New Caledonia is a Melanesian nation in the eastern region of the South Pacific Islands. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu roughly 300km to the north and the central Queensland coast of Australia, about 1,000km to the east.
Compared to other South Pacific Islands, New Caledonia is a relatively expensive destination as like French Polynesia, the country is a dependency of France. Annual tourists visiting New Caledonia number less than 100,000 with the majority being French speaking holiday-makers from Europe. The main island of Grand Terre has a large expatriate community and these locally based tourists usually fill hotel beds during school holidays, particularly in July/August and December/January, so if possible plan to visit outside of these months.
New Caledonia Holidays Overview
New Caledonia is a French collectivity lying midway between Brisbane and Fiji and appeals mostly to French-speaking holiday-makers especially those from mainland France who arrive in search of a lifestyle change. Despite the language barrier, the islands are slowly being discovered by Australians and New Zealanders, particularly the former being less than a two hour flight from Brisbane or Sydney. Apart from the stunning beaches in the outer islands which appeal to couples and those on a honeymoon, Noumea is a popular tourist town and offers a sophisticated holiday ambience similar to being in the Mediterranean. The islands are slightly more affordable to visit than Tahiti although prices for many goods and services remain high so it wont appeal to budget minded holiday-makers.
For a simple New Caledonia holiday break to unwind from life's daily routine, the Isle of Pines offers the perfect relaxing environment with breathtaking beaches, few crowds and lazy days lounging under a coconut tree or sipping a tropical cocktail. The Loyalty Islands are a tourism gem awaiting to be discovered with a mix of Kanak culture and blinding white sand beaches and have an incredibly laid back ambience. These islands are all a short hop by plane from Noumea making a multi-island visit an excellent option for those who prefer a change in scenery every few days.
If you're looking for a bit more excitement, the capital town of Noumea has excellent restaurants, a casino and the lively Promenade which meanders along the city's coast full of strollers out and about for fresh air and a casual conversation. Alternatively, for a mix of relaxation and excitement, head to the small offshore islands and beautiful lagoon on a day cruise or stay at Escapade Island Resort which is just 20-minutes by resort boat from downtown Noumea and offers round the clock complimentary transfers.
What to do on Holiday in New Caledonia
New Caledonia offers a lot of activities whilst on holiday. There's a range of sailing options around the largest lagoon in the world, and many of the mooring sites are virtually untouched. Kite-surfing and windsurfing is exceptional off Noumea. There is a wealth of coral islands and islets to explore, many of which are typically deserted. Scuba divers will float silently with a myriad of sea creatures, including sea turtles, grouper, reef sharks, lobsters, and endangered dugongs, a marine herbivore similar to the manatee or sea cow. Crystal clear waters, a kaleidoscope of colourful coral and fish, and some very interesting sea creatures makes this a must-do dive spot. Search for the Nautilus, a species of living fossil that's been around since the dinosaurs, and the vagrant fur seal.
When you're ready to stay dry for awhile, try one or all of New Caledonia's three 18-hole golf courses, all of which are open to the public. Hike, bike, or ride through the almost-primeval rainforests, along the silky beaches, and across ancient woodlands, and get lost in the solitude. Then wake yourself up with skydiving, paragliding, or a family favourite – accrobranche, a tree-top adventure where you can zip line, Tarzan jump, and forget you're an adult for awhile in the Caledonian rainforests.
New Caledonia Tourist Information
Getting to New Caledonia is very straightforward with regular direct flights between Australia and USA connecting through to France as well as to several of its South Pacific neighbours including New Zealand, Vanuatu and Fiji.