New Caledonia is a dependent territory of France that lies to the east of Australia, in the Coral Sea in the western Pacific Ocean. The main island of Grand Terre is surrounded by numerous smaller and less populated atolls and islands. The crystal clear waters, heavenly beaches, tranquil climate and peaceful holiday accommodation make New Caledonia a wonderful place to visit. New Caledonia is surrounded by the world's largest enclosed lagoon and is the ideal place to experience the exotic Pacific with a touch of French elegance.
Top Things about New Caledonia
The Southern Province covers the southern part of the main island, La Grande Terre, and is home to the capital of Noumea and the romantic Ile des Pins. Covered in pine trees, this idyllic island with pristine beaches and hidden caves has a wealth of marine treasures waiting for you to discover and a magnificent emerald lagoon. In the capital, you'll find a buzzing mix of French sophistication and Melanesian warmth while strolling around picturesque spots, luxury boutiques, colourful shops and trendy restaurants and clubs. New Caledonia’s main island of Grand Terre is one of the largest islands in the Pacific Ocean. Made up of six regions, New Caledonia is surrounded by barrier reef and extraordinary coral. The region’s landscapes are rich and diverse, making them home to unique ecosystems, karst formations and fossil finds. Astonishing views of mountain ranges and a rough coastline softened by charming beaches near Poum, Malabou and the Bay of Pam dominate the scenery in the Northern Province of New Caledonia. To the south of the province the natural landmark of Bonhomme de Bourail can be found. This enormous and magnificent rock column in the sea, which is said to resemble a man with a hat, is one of the island’s most impressive rock formations. Believe it or not, one of New Caledonia’s other top landmarks is the bog, Coeur de Voh, due to the bog forming a perfect stylised heart. Set amongst four hectares of bog and marshland, the Coeur de Voh has become one of the main island’s most well known attractions. New Caledonia also has many famous man made landmarks, including the tallest metal lighthouse in the world, the Amedee lighthouse, and the Noumea St Joseph Cathedral, which is praised for its incredible architecture and quality interior decor.
Best Cities to Visit
The capital city of New Caledonia is Noumea, and it is the only large city on the entire island. Noumea has the widest range of accommodation choices for those looking to stay in the area. Filled with luxurious boutiques and French Riviera atmosphere, Noumea is, without a doubt, a little piece of French paradise in the Pacific. This expansive city that was founded is 1860 is a blend of culture, heritage, leisure and entertainment. By day Noumea has plenty to offer in the form of water sports along the picturesque coastlines, vibrant neighbourhoods, and various museums housing remarkable artefacts and antiquities. In the heart of the city lies La Place des Cocotiers; the luxurious gardens, and famous bandstand provide an ideal place to take a relaxing stroll. In Downtown Chinatown the array of colourful shops and Asian cuisine offer a surprising contrast to the cities other districts.
By night Noumea transforms into a lively and bustling hub of entertainment, with nightclubs, casinos and concerts. The city’s most popular nightclubs are situated along the beautiful beaches and they play music to suit everyone’s tastes, including reggae, R&B, zouk, disco, techno, drum & bass, and French variety. Both the acclaimed Theatre de l’ile, and the intimate Theatre de Poche also provide superb cultural evening entertainment for music lovers of all kinds.
The idyllic landscape and breathtaking scenery also make Noumea a popular place for weddings and honeymoons. This romantic island is a dream destination unspoilt by mass tourism. The pure white sand, natural light and glistening endless ocean make New Caledonia the number one choice for many. Options for travellers in New Caledonia are endless, from diving on untouched reefs to French-style dining, from trekking in virgin rainforest to partying the night away at one of the clubs in Noumea. Embrace local custom and keep an open mind; a trip to New Caledonia will be unforgettable.
One of New Caledonia’s most celebrated annual events is the Festival of the Yam. This sacred festival is held to mark the beginning of the harvesting of the yams, and it is a highly important event in the Kanak calendar. The festival usually takes place around mid-March, and the yam is treated with a great deal of respect by all of the local communities. When the ancestors declare that the yams are ready, they are dug up and presented to the chief and clansmen, which is the sign that the harvest has begun. The yams are then blessed by a priest and distributed to all of the villagers. To show respect the people of New Caledonia do not cut the yams; they break them like bread.
New Caledonia offers an eclectic mix of French, Asian and Oceanic cuisines, which is a reflection of the diverse population that resides on the island. Restaurants, cafes and bars are abundant in New Caledonia, and the island’s most popular choice of cuisine by far is the delicious French meals. The variety of French meals range from family style to gourmet, representing all the regional specialities of France, such as Basque Country, Brittany, Normandy and Alsace. Quality wine straight from Burgundy and Bordeaux can also be enjoyed in many of the reputable restaurants. The Asian culinary traditions are also deeply rooted in New Caledonia, with a huge assortment of Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese food available to experience. The island’s traditional and sacred yam is another speciality that must be tried whilst visiting the area; a trip to New Caledonia just wouldn’t be the same without it.
A trip to Lifou, Mare or Ouvea, the mystical Loyalty Islands endowed with fabulous natural wealth, will lead you to discover Kanak life in all its authenticity. Deserted beaches, turquoise lagoons, multi-coloured sea life found nowhere else in the world; island life doesn't get any better than on these pearls of the South Pacific. The island’s Kanak culture is based on the exchanging of myths, oral transmission and animist legends. The Kanak traditions are the central axis that governs the social organisation of the culture. The stamp of the Kanak culture can be seen throughout the island and is expressed in various art forms. The main principal of the Kanak tribe focuses on the individual being foremost a member of their tribe, with the elder taking the prominent place. The land is shared by everyone and the cultivation of the sacred yam is what provides the rhythm and purpose to the clan’s life. The expressions of the culture can be witnessed in numerous forms, but the most symbolic and recognised is the wood carving of houp wood. Houp is used to create totem poles, masks and many other sculptures. Basketry is another practice that is also prominent in the Kanak culture.
New Caledonia Hotels
There are plenty of great accommodation options dotted around this beautiful and peaceful land. Due to the vast mixture of contemporary and traditional throughout New Caledonia, the accommodation options range from prestigious five-star hotels to quaint cottages and farm properties. The majority of accommodation can be found in Noumea, as it is the only large city on the island. Wooden huts in the mountains, bungalows aside the lagoons and ecolodges on the beaches are just some of the various options to choose from in New Caledonia.