Like Lifou (and some other islands), the New Caledonian island of Ouvéa is part of the Iles Loyauté which lie in the south Pacific east of Grande Terre. It shares many of their characterics such as the origin of an atoll based on corals, a very flat relief and plenty of access to the sea.
For someone who likes landscape photography (like myself), these islands provide surprisingly few photo opportunities. It may partly be a question of mobility, though – without a vehicle of my own, I had to rely on ‘doing the thumb’ (= hitchhiking). And although that went usually very smoothly, it does restrict one’s flexibility and the accessibility of potential photo spots.
The above image shows a typical stretch of coastline on Ouvéa – at least in its central part, which is where I was based. The beautiful sea (here the shallow turquoise waters of the lagoon which lies to the west of the island), a narrow strip of sandy beach, and then some scrubby vegetation. Hm.
I found it really difficult to find a decent foreground for some nice images. So mostly I concentrated on capturing the ‘seascape’.
Sometimes there will be a ‘spontaneous’ foreground, when you least expect it…
Or you simply make do with what is there.
One thing that is available in abundance is rubbish. Perhaps a little bit less so on Ouvéa and on Lifou than on Grande Terre, but still… So annoying!
The following images show the famous Pont de Mouli, the bridge that connects the mainland with the small island of Mouli.
When you look down from the bridge into the water of the strait, you can often see small sharks, rays, sea turtles etc. I did that several times, and I was hardly ever alone.
The area around the bridge is more varied than elsewhere, so I went there on several occasions.
When I had my tele lens with me, I was able to photograph the cliffs at the far end of Baie de Lékiny. The bay itself is a so-called réserve coutumière, an area with restricted access according to the local tribal laws. For instance, swimming and diving are not allowed there.
The falaises de Lékiny can be visited by low tide with a local guide. But that didn’t really interest me. They are impressive, yes, but not a ‘must see’ in my opinion.
One day I joined a boat trip into the lagoon. The main aim was snorkeling (which was fantastic), but we also managed to get close views of other cliffs at the Pléiades du Sud, a chain of small and mostly uninhabited islets surrounding the lagoon.
By now you might be asking yourselves, but isn’t there anything else besides beaches and rocks and the sea (and rubbish)? Well, not much, really. That said, there are the tribal villages, of course.
There are gardens (more about that later), and there is plenty of woodland and scrubland, as the following aerial shot clearly shows (taken from the plane back to the main island):
But frankly, I was most impressed by the sea and the sky in all their different appearances.
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