Noumea is the cosmopolitan capital of New Caledonia offering French sophistication in a picturesque island setting, surrounded by gorgeous bays and splendid beaches.
Founded by the French, Noumea sits south of New Caledonia's main Island 'Grand Terre', and is home to a vast multicultural population. Whilst the pristine beaches are a major drawcard for water sports enthusiasts, there is plenty more on offer. Food lovers can eat at stylish French restaurants hidden in the Latin Quarter, music fans can enjoy live music in the many bars and clubs, whilst the museums, theatres and art galleries keep the culture lovers happy.
Apart from the usual island classics, here are some deserving highlights:
- Visit to Tjibauo Cultural Centre Jean Nouvel building that rises from the rainforest
- Eat a traditional Bougna feast in a traditional Melanesian gite (holiday home)
- Snorkel in the emerald waters of the Îles des Pins (Isle of Pines)
- Sea kayak below the black, vertiginous limestone Lindéralique rocks
- Horse trek into the high mountains near Koné for lush vegetation and breathtaking views
- Eat lobster on the white sand beach of Oro Bay.
Surrounded by the largest enclosed lagoon in the world, there is a diverse landscape to explore across the three main islands.
With Noumea as the capital, the biggest island of New Caledonia is surrounded by the world’s largest coral lagoon.
The rugged central mountain range and tropical climate have resulted in extraordinary biodiversity with microclimates that allow endemic species such as the red-legged, flightless cagou to thrive.
Isle of Pines
This small island, a 30 minute flight southeast of Noumea, is named after the distinctive column pines that date from the Triassic and grow to up to 50 metres.
The ultimate eco-tourist destination with its preserved beauty, the island has a network of small trails for easy exploration of the myriad small bays and deserted white sand beaches of the emerald lagoon and for climbing Mount Nga for a panorama of the whole island.
The Loyalty Islands
The Loyalty Islands are composed of six islands, a short 45 minute domestic flight east of Noumea.
Life here is far more relaxed than in Noumea, and is predominantly Kanak (Melanesian), who make up roughly 97% of the population. The islands geology is also distinctive; Maré features former coral reefs that have become dramatic cliffs that rise from the ocean. Lifou is the largest with a rich history and lush tropical forests, dramatic caves and volcanic cliffs. The white sandy beach of the Ouvéa atoll will surprise and delight every beach lover.
The West Coast of the main island, Grand Terre, features stunning landscapes and vibrant scenery.
The rich cultural heritage of the local Kanak (Melanesian) tribes is contrasted by the large cattle farms that stretch out into wide open spaces. Two stunning natural wonders can also be found here; the stunning mangrove feature, the Heart of Voh, and the sublime lenticular reef which is one of the most beautiful stretches of lagoon in New Caledonia.
The central mountain range is a natural boundary overlooking the very different faces of the East and West coasts.
Prominent winds bring humidity that encourages sumptuous flora, creating a blanket of green over the mountains. The population is largely Melanesian, offering an authentic insight into village life. Scuba divers will marvel at the rich seabed featuring pygmy seahorses, orang-utan spiders, manta-rays and extraordinary varieties of coral and anemones.
The Great South is home to the biggest park in New Caledonia, the Blue River Provincial Park, which makes this the green tourism and soft adventure paradise.
The loops of Netcha offer some of the most stunning mountain biking trails in the country, while the Madeleine waterfalls feature stunning botanic trails. The most popular activity by far however is hiking – with all levels catered for. A climb up the 800 metre summit of Mont-Dore offers spectacular views and the GR1 trail offers six stages of trails that criss-cross the region.
Pacific Franc (CFP)
220V / 50 Hz
The climate is tropical with a hot and humid period from November to March with temperatures that average between 27°C and 30°C, and a cooler, drier period from June to August with temperatures between 20°C and 23°C.
From the airport
The international airport is 50 kilometres from Noumea. There are regular flights or fast passenger ferry (three times a week) from Noumea to each of the islands of the Loyalty group as well as to Île des Pins and the other key towns on Grande Terre.
In and around the city
Buses connect every town on Grande Terre with Noumea. There is also an urban bus network in Noumea along with ‘Le Petit Train’ which does a circuit from the city centre to Anse Vata. The local taxi service is reliable, with both car and water taxis available so you can get around town or the islets. While none of the other islands of New Caledonia have bus networks, cars and scooters are available to hire on each of the islands.
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