Top 10 Things to do in New Caledonia
With so much on offer in the gorgeous New Caledonia, it may be difficult to figure out where to begin! The French culture and cuisine mixed with the local, Melanesian culture and history provides foodies, history buffs and water lovers endless possibilities! As a starting point, here are a few “must sees” during your New Caledonia holidays!
Ile des Pins
Dig your toes into some of the finest, whitest, softest sand on the planet. Known affectionately as “The Closest Island to Paradise”, the water is transparent and perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving while history buffs will enjoy visiting the ruins of the penal colony that once stood on the island. Enjoy the cool shade of the pine trees as you plan a way to stay here forever.
Get your haggling hat on and head out in search of the best deals for local produce, meat, fish and souvenirs. Epitomising the market culture with artefacts, jewellery and unique art pieces on offer, the Nouméa markets, located beside the Port Moselle marina, run every morning with their busiest days being Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Go for an early morning stroll and pick up something for an afternoon picnic.
One of the tallest lighthouses in the world is located on one of the most beautiful stretches of reef in the world! Today there are day trips to Amedee Island where guests can visit the lighthouse, take a trip in a glass-bottom boat to witness the magical underwater sea life or go snorkelling with turtles. This is considered a “must visit” during your stay in Nouméa.
Chomp on Chocolate
Who doesn’t like chocolate? Get your tasty fill as you learn about the chocolate-making process in Nouméa at Chocolats Morand. Try them all to determine your favourite and come home bearing gifts – if they make it back uneaten, that is!
Swim, dive or snorkel in the Lagoon
Snorkel and swim through the crystal clear waters of the South Lagoon, surrounded by New Caledonia’s claim to fame: the 2nd longest double-barrier coral reef in the world (second only to the one in Belize, Central America). A picture is worth a thousand words, so go swim for yourself!
Nosh on nem
Save a few bucks and dig into the local street food! Located in shops known simply as “snacks”, you can find anything here, from fancy French food to strongly Asian-influenced menu dishes. An inexpensive and tasty favorite is nem, similar to a fried spring roll stuffed with goodies.
Hide Out in Nature
Grotte de la Reine Hortense is said to be the cave where Queen Hortense, wife of a local chief, hid in 1855 to escape inter-tribal conflict on the island. It is now one of the most visited and best maintained caves, where visitors can learn about the history and shine a light in the dark depths of the interior.
Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple
Considered to be Tahiti’s specialty, New Caledonia offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the unique styles and colours of pearls and even purchase some as souvenirs to take home. Even if you walk in completely clueless about pearls, chances are you’ll be blown away with what you discover in a short visit to Maison de la Perle in Nouméa.
Whether it’s from a whirling helicopter or a floating kite, why not see New Caledonia from a new perspective? Try kite-surfing lessons on Anse Vata beach or book a tour with Helitourisme for a birds-eye view of paradise.
Peer Into the Past
Immerse yourself in history as you step out of the tropical sun and into the cool Tjibaou Cultural Centre, featuring displays of Kanak painting, sculpture and artefacts, as well as live dance performances twice weekly. Also open to visitors and well worth a couple hours is the New Caledonia Museum which provides a thorough introduction to Kanak and regional Pacific Islander culture.