New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The country is a large island and several smaller islands. It borders Vanuatu, Fiji and Australia. The capital city is Noumea.
The official language is French, but the locals can also speak Melanesian dialects, English, and Japanese.
The population of New Caledonia is indigenous Melanesian people (or Kanak people), representatives of the community of white people (less Caldoches) and French military people who are serving in New Caledonia. The majority of the population is the Christians.
The climate in New Caledonia is tropical with frequent trade winds. Summer lasts from November to March and winter from April to October. The wet season with tropical storms is from December to March. We recommend planning your travel to New Caledonia from September to March.
The best beaches can be found in the capital city Noumea. They are the Bahia des Citron Beach, Anse Vata Beach and the beaches in the Oro Bay and Couteau Bay. A very small Nokanmue atoll situated to the south from the Ile des Pins Island is believed to be one of the best places for ecological tourism, honeymoons and relax tours.
For those who love out-of-town holidays, New Caledonia can offer excursions to the stunning natural salt-water pool, the Forest Park and hunting grounds in the Bourail village.
In Noumea, anyone can see historical and cultural monuments such as the Cultural Center Tjibaou where the tourists can learn more about the history and modern life of the peoples of Oceania.
The northern part of the country is a true paradise for those who prefers various sports activities. The resort Puandime on the eastern coast is the center of diving and windsurfing. And the Kandu Bay not far from Noumea perfectly suits fro snorkeling. During one-day hiking and biking tours, the travelers will see picturesque rocks and lagoons. Anyone can go for rafting or relax in the Crouen hot springs.
The tourists from EU and CIS countries have to take transit flights to New Caledonia with a transfer in Tokyo or Osaka, Sydney or Seoul. This route includes only one stop in the hub airport of Asia and Oceania.
From the international airport La Tontouta in Noumea, Aircalin offers flights to Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Tokyo and Osaka. Air New Zealand, Air Vanuatu and Quantas offer flights from Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.
The citizens of the European Union countries do not need a visa to travel to the oversea French territories. Visa is required for the citizens of CIS countries and they can apply for a visa to a visa center or the French Consulate.
Visa is not required if:
- a tourist has a multiple entry visa or a residence permit in one of the countries in the Schengen Area;
- a tourist has a French Schengen visa (valid for, at least, a year).
A normal time for processing the documents for a visa is 10 days.
The Customs legislations do not restrict imports and export of any currency. CIS citizens must declare the sum exceeding 10.000 Euro (or the equivalent sum in any other currency).
The travelers can bring in New Caledonia goods and personal belongings the total cost of which does not exceed 30.000 franks for an adult person and 15.000 for underage people.
It is prohibited to import:
- absinthe and anise-flavored liqueurs;
- meat and meat products;
- rare plants and animals;
- fighting breeds of dogs;
- items having historical or cultural value (without a special permit).
To import the medications, a notarized doctor’s prescription is required.
If you bring in the pets, you must have a vaccination and blood test certificate issued not earlier than 3 months before your trip.
In New Caledonia, the tourists can try French, Italian, Indonesian, Africa, Japanese, and Chinese dishes. Local dishes are also offered here.
If you want to know what the traditional cuisine of the Kanak people is, then try Buna, chicken with yams and other vegetables wrapped in banana leaves. Buna is prepared only over the coal or hot stones.
Do not miss a chance to try meat dishes from the animals which can be found only here. You should like roasted sea turtle, flying fox, and a very tender giant bat meat.
The staple food in New Caledonia is seafood. Pacific shrimps, lobsters, oysters and crawfish are offered in the restaurants. We recommend Melanesian salads with raw or marinated fish.
Yum, grains, roots, and juicy tropical fruits make up an everyday diet of the Kanak people.
There are many French alcoholic drinks in New Caledonia. The tourists can choose from many French and Australian wines.
The official currency of this oversea French region is the French Pacific Franc (XPF).
The local franc is pegged to Euro. Additionally to the local currency, New Zealand and Australian dollars are willingly accepted in the stores, hotels and restaurants.
You can exchange currency at the airport or any bank. The cards are used in Noumea but beyond the capital cash is preferred. At the banks in the capital city, one can withdraw the money from the Visa, American Express, Master Card, and Diners Club accounts.
Take the traveler’s checks in Euro. The tourists can cash the checks only at banks in Noumea.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in New Caledonia
The Barrier Reef of New Caledonia and the lagoons are the sites of the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is the third longest barrier reef. It is 1.500 km and it surrounds the largest island of the archipelago and several smaller islands. In the 25 meters lagoons, the tourists can see a great biological variety, endemic plants and animals. The divers often come to the Barrier Reef where they can come across the endangered dugong and rare green turtles.
The crystally clear waters of the Oro Bay and the Morris Bay are good for beginners in diving. This area is a natural reserve.
Experienced divers and fans of snorkeling prefer the calm waters of the Haji Pass on the north of the Île-des-Pins. Here, the tourists will see a steep wall which hides 35 meters down in the water and the Devil’s Grotto. You can get there only through a narrow passage.
The fans of sailing will enjoy the trip from Noumea to the Île-des-Pins in the yacht. We recommend drop anchor close to the Kuto Bay. One can take a boat trip along the coastline of the islands or an excursion to the southernmost tip of New Caledonia the Nakanmue Atoll. The tourists will see the beaches with the scattered the shell of the chambered nautilus and cowrie.
On the Île-des-Pins, anyone can go hiking and biking. You can take a walk to the picturesque Vao village and see the Statue of St. Maurice.
In the Bourail village which is in the center of a large island, the tourists can go hunting reindeer which were brought from Europe. Underwater hunting and fishing in New Caledonia attract many people.
Wonderful Bross Island, Lifou Island, and Ouvea Island offer white sandy beaches, limestone grottoes, and amazingly beautiful lagoons.
Souvenirs in New Caledonia
Traditional souvenirs in New Caledonia the tourists often buy are the jade jewelry and the amulets made by the Kanaki Indians.
In souvenir shops, one can buy crafts from carved bones, corals and sea shells. The locals make the wind instruments from giant shells Charonia tritonis.