New Caledonia Health and Safety
New Caledonia is a relatively low risk destination, in terms of both health hazards and personal safety. You should, however, take a few basic precautions during your stay.
- Check your vaccinations
- Mosquito protection
- Excellent medical facilities
- Useful contact information
- Hazards and precautions you should take
What are the required vaccinations for New Caledonia?
No vaccination is compulsory apart from the vaccine against Covid-19. However, it is recommended to be up to date with the usual vaccinations (DTPP, hepatitis B). Vaccinations against typhoid and hepatitis A are optional.
Are the mosquitoes in New Caledonia dangerous?
Although New Caledonia is free from malaria, other infectious diseases (dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses) can be spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes (particularly Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a known vector of several viruses) are most prevalent from November to April, but never completely disappear from New Caledonia, meaning that you should protect yourself from mosquito bites whatever season you plan to stay in the country.
When purchasing mosquito repellent in your home country, make it clear that you are travelling to a tropical region. Many active ingredients found in products sold in the European Union have no effect whatsoever on local mosquitoes!
What are New Caledonia’s health care facilities like?
If, by any chance, you do need to seek treatment from local medical services, you need not worry. New Caledonia's health care facilities are on a par with those of any developed country.
New Caledonia’s health care centres are state-of-the-art with medical expertise equal to anywhere in the South Pacific region.
With a focus on new technology, the Medipole Grand Nouméa public hospital opened at the end of 2016 and has modern equipment such as coronary angiography, vascular and brain imaging, an oncology centre, decompression chambers (offering a guarantee of safety for all underwater divers) and haemodialysis treatments. Should you need it during your stay, you can be assured of top-quality surgical and medical care provided by qualified medical teams.
Emergency plane or helicopter assistance ensures rapid intervention throughout the whole of the territory.
Apart from the hospitals and clinics located in Greater Nouméa, New Caledonia has a fairly extensive network of rural health centres fully able to provide first aid treatment. It can, however, be a good idea to take out travel insurance to cover health care and possible repatriation costs.
Useful contact information (non-exhaustive list of health centres)
- Noumea Hospitals - Tel 25 66 66
- North Province Hospital Centre, Koumac - Tel 47 22 04
- Bourail (West) - Tel 44 11 64
- La Foa (West) - Tel 44 32 14
- Koné (North-West) - Tel 47 72 50
- Poindimié (North-East) - Tel 42 71 44
- Thio (South-East) - Tel 44 52 22
- Lifou island - Tel 45 12 12 or 45 12 79
- Isle of Pines - Tel 46 11 15
- Medical emergencies - 15
- Sea rescue - 16
- Police - 17
- Fire Brigade - 18
Hazards and precautions you should take
Generally speaking, New Caledonia is a very safe tourist destination. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a few precautions.
You should avoid driving at night, particularly in the bush (outside the Greater Nouméa area).
New Caledonia as a whole enjoys a reputation for law-abiding behaviour, but you should always lock your car before setting out on a walk.
If you’re fond of fresh fish, be careful of what you choose to eat. You can get ciguatera (locally known as “la gratte”) from eating some lagoon fish species. The risk of getting ciguatera if you eat fish in a restaurant is tiny but if you fancy cooking fresh fish bought at the market, it’s best to ask for advice from locals.
Apart from the striped jersey sea snake whose bite can prove fatal (it is extremely rare to be bitten), no deadly venomous species are found in New Caledonia. However, some species of marine life can be dangerous, and cuts and abrasions from corals or shellfish can lead to serious injuries. The best solution is to wear water shoes when walking in the lagoon.
Scuba diving and snorkelling fans should also take care to avoid all contact with a few potentially harmful species, including stonefish, stingrays and lionfish.
As in many tropical travel destinations, humans and sharks coexist together in relative harmony in New Caledonia. Follow the advice provided in this guide to swim safely in the lagoon.
And finally, bear in mind that most land in the bush or in the islands is customary and belongs to local tribes. If you’d like to visit a site located on tribal land, you should always ask a tribal chief (or his representative) for prior permission. Local communities are traditionally extremely hospitable and welcome visitors who show respect for their culture and customs but if you fail to ask for permission to visit, you might encounter some hostility.