In 1774, Captain James Cook stumbled upon a beautiful island while cruising the south of the Pacific. Here, he encountered a new culture, that of Kanak people. He named the island New Caledonia because it reminded him of Scotland. Later, this island and a few surrounding ones came to be the formal possession of the French, with the capital of Noumea, previously called Port-de-France. New Caledonia has been known as the “jewel of the South Pacific” for its incredible beauty. The breeze from the Pacific coast and beautiful sandy beaches with a scent of France in the air make New Caledonia one the most picturesque must-visit destinations for your holiday. When planning your visit, these are some of the aspects to consider.
Whichever place you choose to stay at, you are almost definitely in for a beautiful view of the sea. Strategically, it is best to search for Noumea accommodation, since here you can find most of the information you need to have the best experience of New Caledonia. Also, being the island centre, it is well-connected to all the other places you might want to visit.
When it comes to food, don’t miss out on the Noumea central market. Markets are a great place to visit since they are a delight for all senses. The sound of the locals chatting, the smell of pineapple, mango and papaya and the colours of all the fruity and vegetable delights will make you fall in love with Noumea instantly. But the tastes here really give a special experience of the place. The most interesting part is the combination of the local Kanak and French cuisine.
Exploring and visiting local islands is a great way to grant yourself with a trip to remember. Kuto and Mare islands are close by and you can plan a cruise to visit them. Other special places to visit in Noumea are Lemon Bay, where you can enjoy both a wind-sheltered swim and a picnic by day and a party atmosphere at night, Anse Vata Beach for lunch or kite surfing on a windy day, and Duck Island for many hours of snorkelling on the island’s snorkel trail. A short taxi boat ride from the city centre is all it takes.
To get a special feeling of the local history, visit the Coconut Tree Square (Place des Cocotiers). This park is located in the very center of the city but dates from the 19th century. It is a great place to bring children, just sit and relax or meet some locals to tell you more about the jewel of the South Pacific. If you are willing to embrace the culture, even more, you can enjoy a game of “pétanque”. Pétanque is a French bowling game suitable for all ages. Here, you can find the oldest bakery in the area as well with special French baguettes and macarons to try.
Visiting the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is a must-have experience to fully enjoy the local culture. It is located a bit further from the city center but is worth the trip. This museum was designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, which gives it a special post-modern look. In it, you can find totems, huts and other Kanak artifacts which are salvaged from the colonization times. There is also a half-day tour you can book in order to get the most out of the experience.
Besides enjoying the beautiful beaches, cafes, and restaurants, don’t forget to walk around the city. Noumea has very interesting street art to view, and many other hidden places to discover. Embrace your explorer spirit while visiting Noumea and you will surely want to come back for more.