The minute you arrive, it’s easy to see why this is one of New Caledonia’s most sought after resorts. Set on its very own island, surrounded by turquoise sea, this luxury hotel is a destination in itself.
When I first decided to visit New Caledonia, this is precisely what I had in mind. Escapade Îlot Maître boasts quintessential over-water bungalows, pristine beaches and unbeatable snorkelling.
Îlot Maître may be only a short boat ride from the capital city of Nouméa but it feels like a whole other world. The minute you step onto the pier your eyes are drawn to the line of traditional bungalows all seemingly floating on the water.
Once inside, these bungalows do not disappoint with simple, elegant interiors. Each bungalow is complete with its own balcony with steps leading directly into the ocean.
Hotel guests have complimentary snorkel hire – and trust me this is something you don’t want to miss. At high tide, green sea turtles make their way to the resort to feed on the sea grass.
Every so often one sticks its head above the water to get some air. They’re incredibly docile creatures and if you approach them slowly and quietly while snorkelling they’ll happily carry on eating while you watch. There really is nothing quite like swimming alongside a sea turtle for the first time.
Breakfast is included for hotel guests and buffet dinners are provided at an additional cost – and have excellent seafood I might add.
When you’re done with snorkelling and admiring the view, there’s always cocktails by the pool.
What you need to know:
How much does it cost?
An over water bungalow will set you back around 39500F per night ($518AUD, 331€, £290, $390USD). You can double check on their website for your preferred dates here
It’s not cheap but well worth it, if even for just a couple of nights.
If you can’t swing the cost of the over water bungalow, they have other accommodation options too.
How do you get to Îlot Maître
The hotel runs a boat transfer between the island and Noumea at regular intervals throughout the day. The boat is free for hotel guests but if the times don’t suit, you can always take a water taxi. The trip takes about half an hour from Port Moselle.
What wildlife is there?
Expect to see sea turtles at high tide, lots of tropical fish, the odd sea snake (yes, you will almost certainly encounter one at some point) and in the evenings, hundreds of crabs make their way onto the shore.