Surprising Things You May Not Know About New Caledonia

Imagine flying for as little as two hours and landing in a unique tropical paradise, where you can float in calm lagoon waters, sink your toes into pure white sand beaches, and dine on flawless French cuisine. All of this and more is possible in New Caledonia, the South Pacific’s best-kept secret.

While many Australians have at least heard of New Caledonia, we bet there’s a lot you don’t know about this stunning archipelago. To get you up to speed before you visit, here are six surprising things you may not know about New Caledonia.

New Caledonia is Australia’s closest neighbour

Did you know that New Caledonia is the closest Pacific Island to Australia? Getting here couldn’t be easier, with direct flights from Australia’s east coast. Flights take approximately two hours from Brisbane and three hours from Sydney and depart regularly from both cities. These short flight times make New Caledonia the perfect destination for a family holiday or even a short weekend break!

New Caledonia is surrounded by the world’s largest lagoon

New Caledonia is home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most famous of which is the lagoon. Surrounding the entire archipelago, the lagoon of New Caledonia is the largest in the world and covers a total surface area of approximately 24,000 square kilometres!

However, the world records don’t stop here. The lagoon of New Caledonia is surrounded by the extraordinary New Caledonia Barrier Reef, which is the world’s longest continuous barrier reef and second only to our own Great Barrier Reef in overall size. Plus, it’s home to more than 350 species of coral and almost 1,600 species of fish, making New Caledonia a snorkeller and divers’ dream.


The lagoon of New Caledonia is the largest in the world, and is surrounded by the extraordinary New Caledonia Barrier Reef.

New Caledonia is a territory of France

Despite its location in the South Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia is actually a territory of France. This sun-soaked archipelago was first discovered by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1774 and became a French colony in 1853 and a French Overseas Territory in 1946.

Because of this, New Caledonia offers travellers a slice of France in the middle of the South Pacific. With the exception of the tribal traditions of the native Kanak people, New Caledonia’s way of life is very similar to that of France. This is particularly evident in the capital city of Noumea, where you can browse fascinating art galleries, shop the latest French fashion trends and savour exquisite French food and wine.


New Caledonia is a territory of France, offering travellers a slice of France in the middle of the South Pacific, particularly in the capital city of Noumea.

New Caledonia is home to a melting pot of cultures

New Caledonia was first settled by the Melanesian Kanak people over 3,000 years ago, who still make up over 42% of the population today. Living in tribes across Grande Terre, Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands, consider visiting a local village for a taste of traditional life.

The remaining population is a melting pot of different people and cultures, including European, Tahitian, Indonesian, Vietnamese and more. These influences combined have created a fascinating fusion of traditions, languages and gastronomy, truly unlike anywhere else in the South Pacific.

New Caledonia has over 140 islands to explore

While it looks tiny on a map, New Caledonia is bigger than you may think. Encompassing over 140 different islands, the New Caledonia archipelago spans approximately 18,500 square kilometres. The main island, Grand Terre, is home to more than half of New Caledonia’s population and is made up of four distinct regions: Noumea, the East Coast, the North and West Coast, and the Great South. Other notable destinations in New Caledonia include the Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands, which are comprised of Ouvéa, Lifou, Tiga and Maré. Each region of New Caledonia offers something unique, so visitors will never run out of places to explore.


New Caledonia is bigger than you may think, encompassing over 140 different islands.

New Caledonia offers countless outdoor adventures

When you think of New Caledonia, images of the archipelago’s pristine tropical beaches and sparkling lagoon waters likely come to mind. However, this destination has so much more to offer. The West Coast region of New Caledonia’s mainland shows off a great variety of scenery, including rich forests, towering mountains and expansive spaces perfect for cattle farming.

In particular, the rural town of Bourail is known for its outdoor adventures. Set to become one of the top tourist spots in New Caledonia, popular activities here include hiking, mountain biking and ziplining. However, it’s often said that horse riding is the best way to explore the West Coast’s diverse landscapes.


Horse riding is one of the best ways to explore New Caledonia.

Get closer to paradise in New Caledonia

Paradise is closer than you think. Handcrafted by the My New Caledonia Experts, our perfectly packaged holidays are bursting with exclusive inclusions, like flights, resort transfers, local experiences and so much more.

Say bonjour to New Caledonia and browse our exclusive holiday packages today.