Mare Island Map
Like neighbouring Lifou, Mare is an uplifted atoll with high coastal cliffs, blue holes, limestone caves, and other Karst features. This was the first island of what is today New Caledonia to be visited by Christian missionaries. Protestants from the London Missionary Society arrived on Mare in 1841, followed by French Catholics in 1866. A religious war ensued and most of the Catholics were exiled to the Isle of Pines in 1871.
As on the other Loyalty Islands, the 8,000 inhabitants of Mare are almost all Melanesian thanks to the declaration of an "indigenous reserve" here by the French colonial authorities in 1899. The people of Mare speak a language called Nengone.
Massive stone walls surround the Catholic mission at La Roche and the adjacent limestone cliff offers great views for those able to climb it. The administration offices and largest stores are at Tadine, where the ferry from Noumea ties up to a wharf. Nece village has a number of monuments to early Protestant missionaries.
Mare's greatest attraction for visitors is the excellent beach at Cengeite in the south. Most of the island's pensions and resorts are along this beach, although it's all very low key. Don't expect the flashy highrise hotels you'll find in Noumea as resorts in the Loyalty Islands are build in the Melanesian style and blend nicely into the environment. Nearby Wabao Point is an exceptional hiking area.
Mare is easily accessible from Noumea's Magenta Airport with several flights a day. Three or four times a week there's a connection to Lifou. The highspeed catamaran between Noumea and Lifou calls at Mare several times a week, a lovely scenic cruise.