In Travel Tips on Monday 10th Feb, 2020

All the amazing fun you didn’t realise you can have in New Caledonia

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You may have seen one or two New Caledonian spots on a cruise, but it takes more than just a day trip to get to the heart of what makes this place special.

If you’re a cruise-loving Aussie, you may have stopped for a few hours in New Caledonia, then felt you’ve seen all there is to see in this tropical paradise. If so, you’re missing out! There are so many unexpected fun things to be discovered once you venture beyond the deck of a cruise ship.

Just a short two- or three-hour flight from Brisbane and Sydney, and flights frequently available at great prices, it’s easy and affordable to get to New Caledonia so there’s no reason to not do New Cal properly, even if you’ve visited one or two of its islands before.

Here’s all the surprising delights you could experience if you stay a little longer this gorgeous bit of the world.

Enjoy the French Riviera vibe without flying to France

As a French territory, New Caledonia is heavily influenced by French culture and this is evident in the food and fashion you can find in its capital city, Noumea. (In fact, Noumea is known as the French Riviera of the South Pacific!) French flavours infuse local cuisine and French wines, pastries, chocolates and even luxury foods like foie gras and caviar can be found in many of the city’s restaurants, cafes and delicatessens.

Fashionistas, on the other hand, will love Rue de l’Alma and Rue de Sébastopol, where you can find everything your wardrobe might need, from custom accessories to high-end boutiques to big-name brands. Be sure to also allocate time to if you love chic clothing, cool cafes and charming concept stores.

The gorgeous Anse Vata Bay walkway in New Caledonia’s capital is often compared to Nice’s Promenade des Anglais.

Experience the Wild West without going to the States

America isn’t the only place you can find cowboys living off the land and looking after livestock – the rugged West Coast of New Caledonia’s main island, Grand Terre, is home to stockmen who would love to welcome you to their ranches for a homestay.

Joining a local ranching family means you’ll be treated to bush tucker made from fresh local produce and have an opportunity live the bush life, complete with horse riding, moonlit barbecues and even sustainable hunting, which is permitted in New Caledonia under strict controls.

Tee off beside a World Heritage site

Golf fanatics will relish the chance to visit the exclusive Deva golf course, an 18-hole course nestled between the World Heritage-listed Caledonian lagoon and the mountains of Grand Terre.

Not only does it have a luxurious, high-end feel thanks to the care taken to showcase the local environment (the presence of the five-star Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Resort and Spa helps!) – it is also a challenging course with no less than 117 sand traps.

The Deva golf course was designed by Pete Dye and is said to be the technical golfer’s dream.

Discover the drowned forest

Driving from Noumea to the aptly-named Great South is a nature-lover’s treat, as the landscape changes from laid-back urban cityscapes to dramatic blues, greens and reds.

One of the locals’ most-loved nature parks, the Blue River Park, is in this region and in its heart lies the hauntingly beautiful drowned forest. There’s nothing quite like kayaking past these bleached oak trunks, especially in the moonlight!

Explore the untouched East Coast

Grand Terre’s eastern coast is charmingly authentic and unspoilt. Its most famous attraction is ‘La Poule’ off the coast of Hienghene,  which, as its name suggests, is a hen-shaped limestone structure that looms over sparkling blue waters. Going underwater reveals a trove of marine treasures, from the rare ribbon eels living near Tibarama Islet to Hienghene’s Cathedral (no, it’s not made of bricks – this is a spectacular coral forest), it will definitely be worth your while to get into the water at the site of this natural wonder.

The imposing, 47-metre high La Poule de Hienghene is one of the most unique sights on New Caledonia’s main island, Grand Terre.

Get to the heart of the matter

New Caledonia is probably the only country where you can get right to the ‘heart’ of nature, pun very much intended! Not only will an ultralight flight take you over the famous Heart of Voh, formed naturally by the mangrove plants on Grand Terre’s West Coast, it can also show you the less well-known underwater heart made of corals in Poe Lagoon.

And of course, all the other things you’d expect …

Beyond these unusual and beautiful attractions, New Caledonia offers all of the other drawcards you know and love in any tropical island.

You can swim with turtles in the waters around Noumea and mingle with manta rays in the Loyalty Islands, relax on any number of pristine beaches (Amedee and the Isle of Pines are within easy reach of Noumea if you want a change from Anse Vata Bay or Baie des Citrons, otherwise the idyllic Mouli Beach is just a short flight away) and enjoy a wide variety of water sports such as jet skiing from islet to islet and snorkelling with a wide variety of aquatic species in crystalline seas.

Get back on the blacktop

If you love the idea of taking in these stunning sights at your own pace and in your own time, there’s no better way to do so than on a self-drive holiday. Grand Terre’s roads are well-maintained and its scenery from one coast to the next is so diverse that you’ll feel you’re in a different world without ever leaving the island. You can hire a car on your arrival at La Tontouta International Airport near Noumea or ask your accommodation provider for help.

We recommend spending a few days on a round-trip journey from Noumea up the wild West Coast and down the East Coast, returning via the Great South, so you can discover quaint towns such as Poingam, Poindimié and Sarraméa along the way.

With all of the exciting options on offer and its proximity to Australia’s east coast, New Caledonia is perfect for an easy-going, budget-friendly break. If any of these attractions caught your eye, use this interactive map to see where each of them are located and dream up your ideal French-flavoured island escape!

 

Feel the Pulse of New Cal

Learn more about the French perfect paradise on Australia’s doorstep and discover the unforgettable experiences that make New Caledonia one of the true jewels of the South Pacific.

Plan your trip

Have you visited New Caledonia before? What was your favourite attraction?

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