Been promising yourself that you’ll learn to scuba dive for years? Fancy yourself as a pro windsurfer? Well, now’s the time to tackle a whole heap of adventurous activities with the added bonus of an island paradise as a backdrop in New Caledonia.

Australia’s closest Pacific neighbour enjoys a year-round sub-tropical climate that sees temperatures of between 25-27ºC during the warm season from September to March. Noumea is a popular destination for Expedia’s Aussie travellers, who spend around 5 days in New Caledonia, most of those in the capital city.

While the mix of French and Melanesian influences make for great cultural explorations and eating experiences, it’s the pristine beaches and sparkling blue-green shores that beckons.

Why not learn a new skill in one of the most stunning locations in the world?

Under the sea – snorkelling, scuba diving and underwater walks

Surrounding the mainland is the largest lagoon in the world; an area of clear, shallow water home to a host of tropical fishes waiting to be discovered. Head to Plages Loisirs beach kiosk at Anse Vata where you can hire everything you need for a day of underwater explorations. Alternatively, most hotels have equipment you can borrow free of charge.

If you want to get up close to the coral reef bordering the lagoon – situated 45km off the island and covering 1600km area – it’s worth getting in touch with one of the many accredited diving operators in Noumea (did you know New Caledonia’s coral reef is actually more accessible than the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland?). It doesn’t matter if you’re taking your first tentative breathes or are an advanced deep-sea diver, you’ll find several excursions for all abilities departing daily. Not only is the warm water great for humans, the 21-28ºC temperatures it makes the ideal home for almost 2000 kinds of tropical fish. Expect to come face-to-face with rays, dugongs and New Caledonia’s indigenous nautilus – a huge marine snail.

For younger adventurers, and those who don’t want to undergo dive training, why not go on an underwater walk with the aid of a breathing helmet – Ile aux Canards offers this unique activity and is just a 10-minute water taxi away from Anse Vata.