Unexpected Sophistication with a great mix of relaxation and adrenalin.
Very few westerners could put their finger on the map to point out Nouvelle Caledonie. Like the other French jewels in the South Seas is still run from far away Paris but unlike Tahiti it hasn’t suffered from a run-away tourism industry, littering the shores with brand name hotels.
The old Club Med of the early 1980’s still stands as one of the best in the country…and it is still very, very good. For years the local economy revolved around nickel production and they turned New Caledonia into the world’s biggest Nickel mine. But as resources have dwindled and commodity prices fallen, the focus for most Calladoshe (the 30% of the population of European descent) has returned to hosting visitors to their amazing country.
With Gorgeous beaches, splendid mountain ranges and unsurpassed coral lagoons this area is just like the Whitsundays in Australia or Aruba in the Caribbean, but with a drier, tropical feel.
New Caledonia is the most developed of all the Melanesian countries. French laws, language and infrastructure nurture a sense of sophistication and elegance unique in the South Pacific to New Caledonia. While the rich culture and traditions of the indigenous
Kanak people (approx. 40% of national population) continue to shape the lay of the land here.
And while the cultures are rich and diverse, New Caledonia’s main drawcard for tourists is its abundant natural offerings. This island has one of the highest rates on endemism (native species of flora and fauna) in the world. Ancient birds and reptiles live in primeval forests surrounded by insectivorous plants. Whales, dolphins, manta and turtle abound in New Cal’s oceans, while the Lagoons are teeming with fish (otherwise over exploited in other countries).
New Caledonia is perfect for travellers with older children: it offers options that balance adventure, contemporary culture, night clubs and extremely instagrammable relaxation options.
Direct flights to the International airport, La tontouta come in daily from Australia and weekly or twice weekly from Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji and Papeete. Business Class delivers on quality service and superb food.
There are some great domestic airlines that will get you around Grande Terre and over to the Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines. Charter aircraft and helicopters are also readily available.
Roads are excellent by Pacific standards. They’re easy to get around and well serviced.
There are some excellent boating opportunities in New Caledonia. Anyone with a penchant for the water should definitely get amongst it all. With beautiful islands, unbelievable lagoons and incredible diving, New Caledonia has it all.
New Caledonia has amazing resorts, beautiful ranch stays and gorgeous boutique bungalows. Impressive resorts can be found on the Isle of Pines, in Noumea and further up the coast towards Bourail.
Of all the options, our pick of the accommodation styles are the Ranch Style Houses in Noumea’s ‘cattle country’ in the north. These properties showcase the sumptuous French cuisine in an outback style setting. It’s quite a mix for islands in the South Pacific!
The first peopling of New Caledonia came with the Lapita sea farers about 1500 years ago. The archaeological dig which revealed these Sea faring pioneers occurs at Foue peninsula. The first humans arrived to a land dominated by land roaming crocodiles, Giant land tortoise and huge Gecko’s.
James Cook was the first European to see New Caledonia and gave its name because its North-west coast reminded him of the parts of Scotland. Soon after, the French arrived and decided that New Caledonia was the bomb and stayed.
Seeing how well Australie did with their convict settlers, France replicated the process and sent tens of thousands of criminals and political dissenters to New Caledonia. But unlike Australia, the French convicts found the croissants not to their liking and when their sentences were over they returned to sweet Paris.
World War 2 came to New Caledonia in a big way, the local Caldoche evicted the Vichy supporting Governor (he was in favour of the Nazi’s) to South-east Asia and welcomed the US forces in. It was from Noumea that the US Pacific fleet set sail to begin the Battle of the Coral Sea.
A long prosperity came after the war with everyone riding the nickel boom. Polynesians from Wallis and Fortuna Islands were resettled here after a natural disaster almost wiped out their islands. French Indo Chinese settled to work the mines and mainland French came to claim their slice of paradise.
Tensions rose in the 1980’s when the Kanak leaders called for an uprising to reclaim their land but unlike all other Melanesian Nations they weren’t in a majority, and the Gendarmes soon quelled their spirits.
Today New Caledonia is a huge multi National mix of peoples. It is obviously French, has an outback Australian flavour, great Asian cuisine, excellent kanak cultural experiences and the laid back Polynesian feel throwing back to the Tahiti of 30 years ago.
Pick of things to do in New Caledonia
- Fly in ultralight aircraft over the Heart of Voh and the Blue Hole
- Sea Kayaking around Hienghene
- Botanical walk at Madeleine Falls
- Spot a Cagu at Blue River and dodge a Sea Krait on land at Amedee Island
- Isle of Pines…OMG!
- Cruise the South lagoon in a Catamaran
- Sail by Catamaran from New Caledonia to the Loyalty Islands.
- Go mustering cattle, Caldoche style near Bourail.
- The lunch at Tjibaou Cultural centre.
Even though New Caledonia is wholly within the tropics, it is the driest coolest and most southern of all the Melanesian Countries. It certainly gets hot in summer and the Monsoon and Tropical Cyclones appear from December to March but anytime is a good time visit New Cal.
Visa and currency
Visitors from the following countries need a passport but do not require a Visa to enter New Caledonia:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brunei, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay. Or if you are a resident of any of the following countries: Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, Monaco and Andorra.
The currency of New Caledonia is the South Pacific Franc (CFP or XFP). Not the Euro! Seeing a restaurant bill for the first time in CFP will induce heart palpatations. Even though New Cal is quite expensive the rate is deceiving. The CFP is fixed to the Euro (1 Euro = 119 CFP). The local beers are Number One or Manta and they will cost you around USD$7 per bottle. You can get good exchange rates at Hotels or banks in Noumea.
New Caledonia has first world standard medical and health services. We would recommend most people to ensure their Hep A and Typhoid vaccinations are up to date. The Tap water is safe to drink in most places around New Caledonia.
Ensure you have comprehensive medical insurance when visiting. The hospitals are world class but will charge you a small fortune up front before seeing an injuries you may sustain.
Passport & visa
Overseas visitors entering New Caledonia must hold a current passport. In any event, unless you have opted to travel to New Caledonia by boat (and without docking in any other country!), your flight to “Le Caillou” (the local nickname for New Caledonia) will entail stops in Asia (Tokyo, Osaka), Australia or elsewhere, where you’ll need to have a current passport.
French nationals simply need to be in possession of a current passport. Nationals from other European Union countries need to hold a passport valid for at least 6 months after their date of departure from New Caledonia, and may stay for a maximum of 3 months without a visa.
Visitors from Switzerland, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand can also spend up to 3 months in New Caledonia without having to apply for a visa, provided their passports comply with the specified requirements.
Find more information visit the Consulate General of France in Sydney website – Your destination is Tahiti or New Caledonia – and – Where to apply –
Unless they hold a visa, visitors from Canada, the US and Japan are restricted to a stay of one month maximum in New Caledonia.
If you are from one of the above countries, you will need to obtain a visa if you are intending to stay for longer than the specified periods.
Nationals from countries other than those listed above must be in possession of a visa to enter New Caledonia, however long they intend to stay in the country.
Request an insight into our New Caledonia experiences, here.