Bienvenue en Nouvelle Caledonie - Welcome to New Caledonia
Located only a short two-hour flight away from Brisbane, New Caledonia offers a little slice of French paradise to anyone who wishes to brush up on their High School French. But don't be fooled, although New Caledonia is a French territory, don't expect to see berets and striped shirts, as Kanak, French, Wallisians and Futunians, Indonesians, Tahitians, Ni-Vanuatu, Vietnamese and many more all make up the melting pot of cultures that is New Caledonia. However, you can expect to eat the best baguettes and pastries - that's a promise!
So, if you are feeling that travel itch and decide to put New Caledonia to the top of your vacation destination list, here are the top five things to do in New Caledonia:
1. Eat, eat, eat - Bon Appétit
With more than ten different ethnic groups dicing and spicing up a feast, you will be sampling food from all over the world while visiting this small island nation. From Vietnamese to Tahitian, and of course French and Kanak, you will be able to find a meal to satisfy every palate.
For the adventurous foodie, New Caledonia does not disappoint. With local delicacies such as Civet de Rousette (bat stew) and Escargot de L'Ile Des Pine (Isle of Pines Snails) on the menu, you will definitely have an interesting food-based story to tell your friends back home. For those who want to dial the food adventure back a touch, New Caledonia is also famous for its Venison, Mangrove Oysters and Crab, Coconut Crab, New Caledonian Blue Prawns and its all-year-round buffet of seafood and fish.
2. Life's a beach in Noumea
With so many islands, isles and islets dotted in the lagoon of New Caledonia, experts have given up trying to counting them - so you can only imagine the variety of stunning beaches you have to choose from. If you don't want to stray too far from the capital city, you have a number of glorious beaches to enjoy at your doorstop. For those who fancy a bit of lounging and luxury, Le Fare du Palm Beach (located right next to Palm Beach shopping centre) is ideal for a beachside breakfast, daytime soak in the sun or a romantic sunset cocktail (or three).
If you're more of the active type, then head over to Anse Vata for windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding, with several providers on the beach offering introductory courses and equipment for hire. Finally, if you are looking for a fun activity for the whole family, you can head to the Aquarium of the Lagoons, nestled between Baie des Citrons and Anse Vata Bay. This new aquarium faces the sea, allowing visitors to discover all the richness of the New Caledonian lagoon, as well as a hall of fluorescent corals and an outdoor pool with turtles.
3. Shop Noumea
Being New Caledonia's capital, Noumea is the biggest city by size and population, being home to 35% of New Caledonia's population. Noumea is also the country's shopping capital, from local boutiques and souvenir shops, to bigger brands like Kookai, Camaieu and beyond. Try visiting one of the popular markets in Noumea, such as the Port Moselle Market - New Caledonia's largest market, located next to the Port Moselle marina.
4. Go island hopping: Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines
With the islands of Lifou, Mare and Ouvea in the East, and the Isle of Pines in the South, there is a variety of unique scenery and experiences you can discover.
Ouvéa attempts to rival Queensland's Whitevaven Beach with a fabulous beach of white sand stretching for almost 25km, majestic coconut plantations and extraordinary diving sites, especially around the Pléïades Reef. Lifou is a photographers paradise, with its variety of scenery, combining immaculate beaches, steep cliffs, deep forests and impressive caves. Maré introduces its visitors to the Mareans and their deep connection with nature, which has given this island its own unique identity.
Isle of Pines, accessible by boat and plane, is one of New Caledonia's most beloved tourist sights, but is appreciated in such a way that it doesn't compromise the soul or authenticity of the area. The Kuto, Oro, Upi, Kanumera Bays make up the Isle of Pines where you can live your day like a celebrity, and bask in your own remote island resort experience amongst this collection of New Caledonian islands.
5. Explore Bourail
Located within a picturesque two-hour drive from Noumea is New Caledonia's second largest city, Bourail. Boasting the newly crafted 18-hole Exclusiv Golf Deva golf course for those who wish to spend a day on the green. Surfing enthusiasts may also find Bourail their new utopia with Roche Percée beach, a little-known destination that invites you and your surfboard to a nice swell, four-foot waves, and clear, warm water - just be cautious of submerged rocks. Finally, for those who want to sit back and relax, Bourail is perfect for a spot of glamping, complete with safari-style tents and bungalows.
PLAN YOUR TRAVEL
BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT
It may have been a while since you last flew overseas. It's a fantastic time to remember the basics of international travel as well as learn about what's changed.
- We know it feels like a domestic flight, but remember you will need a valid passport to travel to New Caledonia. And check the expiry date! It's easy to lose track of these things when you've had your feet on Aussie soil for so long.
- It's been a while between flights - remember volume limits apply on powders, liquids, aerosols and gels when travelling on international flights.
- The fantastic retailers, bars and cafes that you know and love at the International terminal are trading at reduced hours. Check what's open at International for the most up to date news.
- For the latest info about travelling overseas in one spot, check out our International Departures Guide.
We can’t wait to welcome you back to Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal, see you soon!
- Feature image: Noumea from atop the Ouen Toro | Photo by Aymeric LeLeizour
- Read more: New Caledonia Tourism Website