Currency: The Pacific Franc
Official language: French is the official language, with 30 different Melanesian languages being spoken as well as English and Japanese.
Welcome to the Paris of the Pacific
Also known as France’s most inviting escape, this island paradise boasts some pretty impressive sights, such as the world’s largest lagoon and a massive 1,500km long coral reef, making it the second biggest reef. If you’re serious about diving, then you should get very serious about visiting New Caledonia, as its vast reefs offers some of the most spectacular diving in the world. But New Caledonia isn’t just about the marine life; they’ve got an abundance of land animals as well. There are the famed flying foxes and the vibrant collections of exotic birds to name just two. Other than the natural landscapes and the animal life, New Caledonia also offers an abundance of luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants and plush boutiques that seamlessly blend in with Melanesian tradition and culture. Famous for the Kagu bird, being found by Captain Cook back in 1774 and the fact that it’s such a remarkable island destination are all part of the reason why New Caledonia stands out above the crowd.
Must see places in New Caledonia
This is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world, and was constructed in Paris during the reign of Napoleon III. Climb the 247 steps to the top to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounds.
Isle des Pins
Discovered by Captain Cook in 1774, Isle des Pins lies 70km off Grande Terre. With its stunning white beaches, turquoise lagoons, rainforests and impressive archeological remains, it’s a scenic destination that’s definitely worth stopping by.
The bustling capital city of New Caledonia is home to one of the world’s largest sheltered natural harbors. With its squares and the cathedral, museums and the market, there’s plenty to see and do in the capital city. Explore the old colonial houses and the Aquarium des Lagons, or simply sit back and take in the rich cultural diversity present in everyday life here.
The main reason you would want to visit Hienghéne would have to be its awe inspiring lagoon, surrounded by 120 meter high black cliffs. The entire region is abundant in churches and Malenesian villages, surrounded by forests, coconut palms and the renowned beaches. On offer here is also the village of Yaté, which is best known for the fact that it’s surrounded by lakes, waterfalls and a wooded countryside.
The Southern Lagoon
If you want to see the renowned masses of whales in New Caledonia’s waters, the best place to head out to would have to be the South Lagoon. Humpback whales travel to these waters for mating season which runs from mid-July and they hang around until roughly September.
Get your dicing gear and get ready to be amazed in the watery wonderland of New Caledonia’s marine reserves with its sunken shipwrecks. The bests spots to head out to would have to be the bays of Nouméa, the Amédèe Lighthouse Reserve, La Dieppoise, Ilot Maître and Prony Needle to name but a few.
Just north of Yate lies Côte Oubilée lined with wild, unique and spectacular natural surroundings. Stretching along a reef of deep valleys, flowing rivers and steep cliffs, this destination is well worth exploring if you’ve got the stamina for exploring its secrets.
The best way to explore this region is probably by doing a good old hike. Start out at Prony on the Grande Randonnée trail that leads north to head into some awe inspiring natural scenery and finally finishes up at Dumbéa.
The West Coast Beaches
To get the real island paradise experience, you really don’t want to miss the beaches of the West Coast. On offer here are some of the most pristine white sandy beaches, rainforests and offshore atolls all en-tow. From caves and rock formations at Bourail, to Koné with its ancient Lapita pottery and archeological findings, the beaches of the West Coast have more than just sand and sea on offer.
Blue River National Park
Explore this massive 9,000 hectare protected sanctuary on a scenic hike or bicycle ride. The gigantic 1,000 year old tree is a spectacular landmark to see. The Kaori tree has a trunk has a circumference of 3 meters and is said to be the guardian of the park with its amazing array of fauna and flora.
Nature lovers will fall in love with spectacular views at Mont-Dore surrounded by freshwater springs and forests and beautiful coastal scenery. Only 25km south of Noumea, Mont-Dore (770m) has some great hiking trails and there are stunning lookouts to be enjoyed.
Best time to visit New Caledonia
Tourists visit New Caledonia from September to March
With a general warm and subtropical climate, there’s never really a “bad” time to visit New Caledonia. The coolest time of the year is between April and August, with the hottest months stretching from September through to March. The wet season falls between January and March.
Did you know?
The New Caledonia Lagoon is one of the largest lagoons in the world
New Caledonia is home to the world’s largest species of fern, growing up to the size of a mature palm tree
Bonjour is the standard greeting in French for Hello
- Pacific spiny lobsters, prawns and crabs
- Mangrove oysters
- Salads made with raw fish marinated in lime juice
- Bougna, which is a fish or chicken dish that is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on hot stones covered with sand
- Keep in mind that most attractions and shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so make sure that you have something other than sightseeing or shopping planned for those days.
- Tribal life calls for always greeting passersby, you should always return the favor
- When entering the villages it is essential to dress modestly and not wear revealing clothes
- Before entering ANY tribal areas, always get the permission from the locals before entering the area