12 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in New Caledonia
When your think of New Caledonia, you might picture the archipelago’s spectacular beaches and beautiful landscapes, but there’s more to this gorgeous corner of the globe than first meets the eye. Before you set out on your next adventure, check out the top 10 things you didn’t know you could do in New Caledonia!
Dine on delicious French cuisine
Thanks to its location in the heart of the South Pacific, French cuisine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New Caledonia. As a French territory, however, New Caledonia’s dining scene is punctuated with French flavours, classic dishes and incredible gastronomic delights. Combining the traditions of French cuisine with a touch of South Pacific flair, a visit to the restaurants and cafes scattered throughout Nouméa are a must. Start your day with rich, buttery croissant, grab a baguette for lunch or settle in for a meal that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Stay with a local family for a night or two
A great way to get to know more about traditional life in New Caledonia, a stay with a local family is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Sleep in a traditional Melanesian hut, delight your senses with flavoursome regional dishes, learn about customs that have been passed down through the generations, and revel in the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities, from fishing and bird watching to storytelling. While there’s plenty to learn about Kanak culture at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Nouméa, there’s nothing quite like living like the locals do.
Take a dip in crystal clear waters
Sheltered from ocean currents and surrounded by spectacular white sands, the crystal clear waters of Oro Bay are nothing short of breathtaking. Referred to by some as a ‘natural aquarium’, the translucent waters are home to schools of colourful fish who can be seen swimming around the coral that lines the bay. Slip on a snorkel and spend some time watching on as these eye catching creatures go about their day. Take care not to step on any coral, though - this incredible ecosystem is very fragile.
Go island hopping
Surrounded by a seemingly countless number of islets, there are so many adventures to be had island hopping across New Caledonia. Discover what makes each of the main islands, including Grand Terre, Ouvéa, Lifou, Maré, Tiga and the Isle of Pines, so special, or take the time exploring smaller gems, such as Duck Island and Amédée Island, at your leisure. Spend the day relaxing at the foot of Amédée Lighthouse on Amédée Island, or embrace the opportunity to see a variety of fish and corals in their natural habitat along Duck Island’s underwater trail. Take a water taxi to the unspoilt beaches of Goéland, Larégnère, Signal, Duck and Escapade islands or set up camp for the night on an uninhabited islet for an experience to remember.
See the Heart of Voh
A striking feature of the New Caledonian landscape known and loved across the globe, the Heart of Voh is a natural phenomenon that continues to amaze visitors to the archipelago. Made famous by a French photographer in the 1990s, the almost perfect heart shape was formed by a natural clearing in a forest of mangroves, close to the commune of Voh. Schedule a microlight flight, pack your camera and see for yourself what makes this iconic sight so unmissable.
Snorkel in the world’s largest lagoon
Home to the world’s largest lagoon, no visit to New Caledonia would be complete without discovering some of the incredible marine species that call its waters home. From manta rays and turtles to colourful schools of fish and fascinating coral formations, there’s so much to see beneath the surface. Pack your own snorkel or hire one on arrival and see just how diverse New Caledonia’s marine life is.
Play a round of golf with a view
While you might associate New Caledonia with its beautiful beaches and stunning natural attractions, the archipelago also happens to be home to a number of scenic golf courses. The landscapes at Dumbéa and Boulouparis are great in their own right, but its the ocean views from the courses at Déva and Tina that really make a round of golf in New Caledonia one to remember. Challenge yourself with a full 18 holes or choose to complete a leisurely nine holes instead.
Go horseback riding
There’s nothing quite like a classic horseback adventure, and New Caledonia certainly doesn’t disappoint on that front. From captivating mountain trails to beautiful beachside rides, the diverse landscapes found across the archipelago provide the perfect backdrop for an outdoor adventure unlike any other. Join a tour led by an experienced guide to learn more about the land you cross, from the native flora and fauna to the people who have called it home through the years.
Tackle the GR® NC1
Similar to the long distance walking trails that crisscross Europe, New Caledonia’s GR® NC1 trail offers an outdoor adventure that will delight even the most seasoned of hiking enthusiasts. Stretching from the village of Prony to the Dumbéa River, the trail, which traverses the southern end of Grand Terre, makes its way across red earth, over rivers and through lush forest. Made up of seven different stages, there’s plenty to see, do and discover along the way.
Soak up the serenity of the New Caledonian bush
Although the archipelago’s coastal regions may get most of the attention, the New Caledonian bush offers some diverse experiences that definitely won’t be forgotten any time soon. Set out on a ranch tour and see working farms in action, learn about the rich history that peppers the region, or simply take some time to soak up the serenity. From wide open grasslands to rugged peaks and hidden valleys, it’s a side of New Caledonia that is well worth exploring.
Go whale watching
Between July and September each year, hundreds of humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of New Caledonia to rest, breed and give birth. Several companies run whale watching cruises throughout the archipelago, ranging from short day trips to weekend charters, providing ample opportunity to see the mesmerising creatures in the wild. It’s best to join a guided tour if you’re interested in a spot of whale watching to ensure you’re able to enjoy the region’s best vantage spots without disturbing the majestic creatures.
Discover the archipelago’s incredible nature reserves
When you first think of the New Caledonian archipelago, the first images that come to mind are likely to be untouched beaches and turquoise waters, but there’s so much more to New Caledonia than first meets the eye. Nature reserves scattered across the islands house areas of lush tropical forest, ethereal waterfalls, rugged gorges and so much more. If you’re interested in getting back to nature, consider a visit to some of the beautiful scenic spots, such as Blue River Park, Giant Fern Park, Dumbéa River, Yaté Lake and Tao Waterfall, that are found right across New Caledonia.