Things to do in New Caledonia
Add some culture to your life!
There is nowhere else in the world that shares the culture found in New Caledonia. As an overseas French territory in the heart of the Pacific Islands, travellers can encounter a unique mix of cultures, culinary traditions, languages, and history.
New Caledonia is perfect for families and solo travellers alike. Land and water activities abound, and for those excursions that the smaller members of the family may not be able to participate in, most resorts in New Caledonia are perfect because they offer babysitting services to compliment the kids clubs, so you can sneak out and enjoy a glass of wine in peace!
Luxury for Land Lovers
Let your mind drift to the most exquisite, luxurious surroundings you can imagine. Are you picturing palm-fringed beaches? Turquoise waters? Being waited on hand-and-foot with any amenity you need? Or does your mind wander to sumptuous food, Parisian delicacies, and aged wine? With a holiday to New Caledonia there is no need to choose one or the other—you can have it all!
New Caledonia is an idyllic South Pacific nation with an abundance of French culture, cuisine, and customs. Many designer brands feature here and boutiques sell fashionable French clothes and luxury goods, including perfume, jewellery, footwear, silk scarves, sandals, and handbags. Treat yourself to a day of shopping north of the city centre. Visit Rue Georges Clemenceau, Rue de l’Alma, and Rue Jean Jaures. Famous brands in New Caledonia include Hermés, L’Occitane, Etam, Petit Bateau, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Dior, Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yves Rocher and Aubade.
Arts, crafts, and fresh produce markets are also common. Acquire handmade souvenirs, fabrics, flowers, breads, sweets, and more! The Jeudi du Centre Ville Street Market in Nouméa is on every Thursday and Nouméa Market is best visited on Saturday or Sunday morning. Be sure to plan your shopping when everything is open though. Most stores close for a siesta between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm—head to the beach during these times, or join in the fun and take a well-earned holiday nap!
If shopping and food don’t appeal, there are plenty of art galleries, museums, and theatre performances to enjoy. Take a scenic drive, hike astounding trails, or enjoy the opportunity to learn about the country’s fascinating history and culture. Start at the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre to get your bearings. Learn about New Caledonia’s rich Kanak heritage, enjoy art, live music, and dancing showcases, plus be blown away by incredible architectural masterpieces!
Fun and French with Family
When you think of the perfect family holiday destination in the South Pacific, New Caledonia should be in the front of your mind! Located just a 2.5-hour direct flight from Sydney, you can take your whole family to New Caledonia without any long-haul dramas! There are range of activities to keep kids and adults of all ages occupied, plus there are kids’ clubs and babysitting services available for that occasionally-needed time apart!
A small train runs a loop of Noumea for around AUD$60. The train is a unique mode of transportation which the kids will love and it offers an hour-long overview of the places and history of Noumea. This handy miniature train completes a circuit from Anse Vata beach to the city centre, dropping passengers at some of the main sights around town. The train also heads to Parc Zoologique Forestier where little legs can stretch and eager eyes can get a glimpse of New Caledonia’s flightless national bird (the Cagou), the horned parakeet, monkeys, lizards and fruit bats!
Picnics are a great family activity to enjoy in New Caledonia. Visit the local produce markets for fruit and veggies before picking up the essentials, such as French cheese and baguettes, at a local supermarket. Seek out one of the many playgrounds around and claim your turf. Feast under the shade of coconut trees, join a game of petanque (bowls) to meet the locals, and practice your French while you’re at it!
More opportunities exist for your family to speak French. Grab a Nature & Culture Pass upon arrival and get access to the New Caledonian and Maritime History Museums, the Parc Forestier (mentioned above), the Tjibaou Cultural Centre and the Aquarium. Participate in traditional dances, learn more about the country’s history and culture, plus see some of the outstanding local flora and fauna! Speak French to the staff as you explore—a little effort goes a long way in New Caledonia, so be sure to test your skills wherever you go!
A visit to New Caledonia isn’t all bonjour and French baguettes—this beautiful country is also a great place for water lovers and those seeking new, unique encounters with brightly coloured fish and natural marine beauty! There aren’t many places in New Caledonia that you can’t snorkel or dive. Being situated on one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, the country plays host to hundreds of fish and coral varieties. Snorkel off the shores of Noumea, or take a day trip to one of the many islands. A 5-minute water taxi will take you to Ile aux Canards (Duck Island) which offers the full day island experience without the full day of travel.
Looking to keep your head above water? Choose from a wide range of watercrafts for a day’s enjoyment, including rafts, kayaks, and paddleboats. Stand up paddle boards (SUPs) have also recently been introduced, so if you’re keen to ride the wave of the new trend, take one of these out for a few hours! Jet skis are readily available, plus you can take advantage of the sensational conditions for wind and kite surfing. Several international championship events in both disciplines are held in Noumea each year, bringing adventure seekers together from all over the world!
Travellers are also known to visit New Caledonia to test out the surf. Whether you’re a great surfer or someone just getting started, there is a treasure trove of undiscovered and uncrowded surf breaks waiting for you! Inconsistent swells and monsoon seasons can affect the safety and visibility at some of these sites, so it’s important to note that the ideal surf season, offering south to south-east swells with 1-3 metre waves, occurs between May and October. Friendly locals at New Caledonia’s surf spots are keen to help, rather than run you down—they speak the international language of “surfing” and can get you hangin’ ten in no time!