Several cables’ length from Poum, Bélep has three main islands and some islets, and is right in the midst of the “Great North Lagoon Area”, part of the New Caledonian lagoon registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Only Art and Pott Islands are inhabited. Far from everything, this little district almost governs itself. This has enabled it to remain authentic and still defend a certain idea of independence. Today, however, it is trying to open up more to the world and break away from this image that sticks to it.
There is no hotel or gîte or restaurant on Bélep. In the past, a mission and then a leper house were set up there at the end of the 19th century. The tribe went into exile at Balade until the leper house was closed nearly 50 years later.
Visitors are rare, whereas Bélep is still a unique district in New Caledonia; as islands attached to a larger island, it lives in a kind of double insularity which gives it its own identity, while turning firmly to the future. If you go there, make sure you take a little custom offering for the tribal chief, as traditions are still much stronger there than elsewhere.
Location and access: 470 km from Noumea, four hours by barge from Poum and 3.5 hours by the Sea Breeze catamaran from Koumac.
Air connections: Flights from Noumea to Koumac (2 hours) from Magenta domestic airport every Tuesday and Thursday (Bélep is 30 minutes from Koumac), tel. 25 14 00; Aircal, tel. 25 21 77 or 47 53 90.
Tourist information: Mairie de Bélep (Town Hall), tel: 47 54 53
Gendarmerie: Sainte Marie, tel. 42 47 87.
Dispensary: Tel: 47 75 80.
Banks: CCP at the post office agency, village, tel. 47 64 82.
Post Office: Post office agency, village, tel. 47 64 82.