Bob Marley and coconuts. Yes, really.
Sometimes when you have no pre-conceptions about an area it’s a good thing – because in my experience more often than not those areas don’t live up to the fantasies you had.
I had never heard of Maré (pronounced Mar-ray) before I read about it on the itinerary of the last-minute P&O Cruise I was on. Being on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (and not really wanting to part with a huge amount of money for on-board internet) I decided to avoid Google and just experience it first-hand.
Since then I’ve been home and checked Google, so I can tell you that Maré is the second-largest of the Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia, it’s 42km wide and 6,900 live on the island. Now that the lesson is over I can tell you what my experience of the place was.
Put simply the beaches of Maré are beautiful. So gut-wrenchingly and eye-wateringly beautiful that it makes you want to make up words just to describe it. Like splendabulous. Or wonderzing.
The main jetty where we were brought in by boat was unassuming but rustic and lovely all the same. A choir of singing locals greeted us in a Hawaii-style way without a lei or a Starbucks in sight. A quick and rustic (very rustic) bus took us to Yejele Beach – if you find yourself on Maré either on purpose or by some sort of Tom Hanks style Castaway moment, make sure you take the shuttle bus to Yejele. It is probably one of the most loveliest beaches I’ve ever set foot on.
Super white sand that’s almost too white meets crystal blue perfection – the beach is quite large and stretches all the way down to rocks. There’s enough room to stretch out and relax and forget about anything that could be troubling you in life. Then there’s the locals, they’re lovely and they really know the value of a tourist.
When walking on to Yejele Beach in Maré, you’ll be greeted by rows of crudely-constructed huts selling everything from grilled meats (which I wasn’t game to try) through to chips and drinks. But the most popular of all the beach offerings are the fresh green coconuts. Peeled and hacked open in front of you, you’ll be handed a coconut and, combined with Bob Marley playing on old school stereo speakers and the vision of unspoilt beaches, water and bright blue sky, the feeling of joy you’ll almost certainly feel is overwhelming.
Can you tell I really loved it? There wasn’t much else to do, or anything at all to do really, but that’s actually the best bit. Maré is one of those places where relaxation is the hardest chore you’ll face all day, and that’s definitely alright with me.