Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gay South Pacific Paradise Discovered

IGLTA Ambassador to Australia and the South Pacific Mark Proffit, sent his Rainbow Tourism colleague Dee Farrell to New Caledonia. She discovered a warm gay community and welcoming tourism industry on this seductive island off the coast of Australia.

The terms "South Pacific Islands" and "French Polynesia" usually draw to mind Tahiti, Fiji, and Vanuatu.

Overlooked no more should be the Melanesian island paradise of New Calendonia. Nouvelle Caledonie is the closest international destination to Australia's east coast capital cities and the north island of New Zealand. More and more Kiwis and Aussies are outnumbering European visitors, though Korean and Japanese visitors are a mainstay.

I encountered French and German tourists, of course, but was surprised to learn about Japanese lesbians who favor the romantic resorts that have their own wedding chapel! I arrived by ferry the day before a wedding and preparations were underway in the seaside church, and extra champagne chilling in the restaurant's well stocked cooler. (I was impressed to find an '05 Pinot Noir from Alsace region as well as an extensive range of the real thing from Champagne region. A foodie paradise on a remote marine reserve with gay and lesbian staff, I was in heaven!)

Besides romance and honeymoons, New Caledonia has great appeal for the adrenalin crowd with beaches exclusively for jet ski and kite surfing enthusiasts. It's easy to get away from the commotion by taking a water taxi to one of the many islets and marine reserves that fill the world's largest and most beautiful lagoon. It surrounds Grand Terre, the main island, and is now on the World Heritage list.

Once a property, tour operator, airline or tourism board from New Caledonia joins IGLTA, I will profile the ones I inspected for gay welcome mat.

--Rainbow Tourism Concierge Dee Farrell

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