Just a short flight from Australia’s east coast, New Caledonia offers a unique mix of French and cosmopolitan influences, great weather and the world’s largest lagoon. Add to these sandy bays and golden beaches, pulsing nightlife, gourmet and traditional cuisine, and you’ve got the perfect destination for a well-earned break.
Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons - These are Noumea’s two most popular beaches and are perfect spots for lunchtime picnics, swimming and snorkelling. While Anse Vata is a paradise for lovers of water sports, Baie des Citrons is the ‘in’ spot with live music and popular nightclubs.
Tjibaou Cultural Centre - This space is dedicated to the country’s indigenous population, the Kanak people, and is spread over three hectares. A tribute to a pro-independence Kanak leader assassinated in 1989, Tjibaou features an art centre, a museum, performance places and a library.
Place des Cocotiers - This attractive square garden is set right in the heart of the city. Shaded by colourful flame trees, it offers visitors the chance to enjoy pétanque or play on a giant chessboard. On Thursday’s you’ll also experience local arts, crafts, music, dances, food and drinks at the night market.
La Perle d’Eram (Black Pearl) This is a restaurant owned and staffed by Kanaks, where the women all wear their traditional dresses. This hidden gem is run by a group from Mare Island and provides a small window into the local Kanak world.
Here you can try bougna, the famous Melanesian delicacy, which is cooked underground off site and is available with 24 hours notice. Fresh banana leaves are used to wrap chicken, lobster or fish along with soft yams, bananas, sweet potatoes and rich coconut milk. This is then steamed over red-hot stones in an underground oven and slow cooked for around two hours.
This authentic dish can be found in New Caledonian restaurants – most notably on the islands and the east coast – or can be enjoyed with local tribes.
THE GREAT SOUTH
Blue River Provincial Park - This is a spacious, protected reserve for numerous bird species including some 600 of the native cagou. It covers more than 9,000 hectares which can be explored on foot or by bike, discovering fauna and flora of remarkable diversity and richness.
Activities here include kayaking through a drowned forest under a full moon, discovering the Giant Kaori, meeting wild cagou on the main road or spending a night perched up a tree in a tent.
Visitors to the park can also take a family hike to the Palmetum, a former mining camp in the rain forest on the natural palm forest trail, or walk up to the High Blue River and take a dip in its waterfalls. Finally, discover the Maison du Parc, which traces the history of the park.
Amédée Island & Lighthouse - (day trip from Noumea) is surrounded by crystal clear waters, colourful coral and abundant tropical fish. Relax on a white sand beach under swaying palm trees or stroll around the island.
Duck Island - (day trip from Noumea) is a five-minute water taxi trip from Anse Vata beach where you’re able to walk on an underwater path along the ocean floor to get an intimate look at the marine world. Pedal boats, canoes or snorkelling equipment are also available to make the most of this island paradise.