New Caledonia travel questions and answers

Have questions about New Caledonia travel? Discover answers to some of your top questions below:

Everyday life/practical tips

  • Do you have to book ahead for activities and meals in the bush or on the islands?

It really depends on the service providers. If your destination is a classic hotel or restaurant, booking ahead is advisable but not compulsory. However, if you’re planning on visiting a home-cooking or local tribal venue, it’s absolutely necessary.

  • What are the opening hours for local stores in New Caledonia?

Retail opening hours are generally around 9 or 10 am to 5 or 6 pm, while stores selling food and groceries are usually open from 8 am to 7 pm.

  • When are meals usually served?

Lunch is generally served from 11.30 am to 1 pm and dinner from 7 to 9 pm. However, some eating-places do have longer meal service hours.

  • Should I leave a tip?

Tipping is not customary in New Caledonia and prices shown are inclusive of tax, apart from a few very rare exceptions.

  • Where can I find public toilets in Nouméa?

Nouméa has around 75 public toilets. If you would like to know exactly where they are, please ask at the local tourism offices.

  • What regulations apply to alcohol sales in New Caledonia?

Local regulatory restrictions apply to takeaway alcohol sales. Takeaway alcohol sales are generally prohibited on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from midday, and also on the eve of public holidays and on public holidays. Only wine retailers are exempt from the ban.

  • What days are markets held?

If you want to know about markets in the bush, the best idea is to check regional tourist offices or local authorities websites. In Nouméa, the municipal market at Port Moselle is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 5 am to 11.30 am.

  • Where are New Caledonia’s tourist offices located?

There are fifteen tourist offices in New Caledonia.

  • Do I need to make a customary gesture if I visit a tribe?

Not always. If it’s a question of someone providing a service in a tribal village or area (a room or home-cooking venue), customary gestures are not a systematic practice. The best thing is to inquire beforehand by simply asking someone on the spot. If you are concerned, take some time to learn about local traditions before your visit.

  • What type of electric plugs and sockets are used in New Caledonia? Where can I find adapters?

Plugs and sockets used in New Caledonia are the same as those found in most European countries, i.e. 220V, 50Hz. Adaptors are on sale at La Tontouta Airport or in shops near the Cruise Ship Terminal.

  • Can I pay in euros or dollars in New Caledonia?

Some service providers and stores, mainly in Nouméa, accept payment in euros or dollars (Australian and New Zealand dollars). It’s a good idea to inquire about rates in advance.

  • Where can I exchange currency in New Caledonia?

You’ll find foreign currency exchange offices and 24 hour currency exchange ATMs at the airport (BCI) and near the Cruise Ship Terminal (BNC). Please note that you will need proof of identity if you decide to exchange your francs at the foreign exchange office. Finally, most banks in Nouméa have foreign exchange counters in their downtown branches, which are open Monday to Friday from 7.30 am to 3.45 pm, except on bank holidays. Some branches also provide exchange services in the bush.

  • Are debit and credit cards accepted everywhere in New Caledonia?

Visa and Mastercard cards are widely accepted in shops and stores. However, you should make sure you have a stock of cash if you’re travelling in the bush (outside Greater Nouméa) or in the islands (Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines). American Express cards are fairly widely accepted in New Caledonia but can’t be used to withdraw cash from an ATM.

 

Formalities/Safety & Security

  • Do I need a visa to travel to New Caledonia?

That depends on your nationality and how long you’re intending to stay. If you’d like more information, learn more on our visa, customs and passports page.

  • Are French National Identity Cards valid in New Caledonia?

French National Identity Card holders can use them to travel on Air Calédonie or Air Loyauté domestic airline routes. However, you will need a passport to travel to New Caledonia because your journey will entail a stopover in Asia or Australia, where a passport will be required.

  • Are there any places or areas I should avoid when I travel to New Caledonia?

Nouméa and its satellite towns (Greater Nouméa) form an urban area with over 150,000 inhabitants. Like everywhere else in the world, some tensions can arise in this spreading urban area. However, there are no “no-go” areas in New Caledonia. It’s simply a good idea to be a little more vigilant after dark, just as you would in any city.

 

Travel/Transport

  • What’s the best way to get to and from La Tontouta International Airport?

You can either rent a car at the airport or board a shuttle, which you should book beforehand.

  • Is it easy to find service stations and garages in the bush?

Overall, New Caledonia has an extensive network of service stations. However, it’s advisable to think ahead if you’re driving in the Deep South or the Far North, or if you’re crossing the mountain range. And finally, not all service stations are open on Sundays and public holidays. Don’t get caught short!

  • How do I book a domestic flight in New Caledonia?

You can make online bookings for domestic flights via the Air Calédonie website.

  • What are driving conditions like in New Caledonia?

We drive on the right (left-hand drive cars). The road system is generally very well maintained but there are very few dual carriageways. Be vigilant and always drive carefully if you’re travelling around New Caledonia at the wheel of a rental or courtesy car.

  • What’s the best way to travel around Nouméa?

There are plenty of different transport options to choose from. You can visit most of the city on foot or by hopping aboard one of the little tourist trains that follow routes taking in all the top sights. If you want to get from one neighbourhood to another, you can either call a taxi, travel on the Karuïa Bus city bus services or rent a moped or a bike.

 

Sports and leisure activities

  • What is the best time of year to travel to New Caledonia?

New Caledonia is an all-year-round holiday destination for the whole family. However, April, May, October and November are the months offering the best balance between heat and rainfall. Learn more about New Caledonia’s climate and weather before you travel to find your perfect time to visit.

  • Are there any signposted hiking trails in New Caledonia?

Yes, there are two stunning long-distance backpacking trails; one in the South and one in the North. In the South Province, you’ll find a host of easily accessible, well-maintained signposted nature trails, including one that makes its way from Prony to Dumbéa.

  • What activities can you do if it rains?

Ask any diving fan - when it’s raining, you can’t get any wetter if you’re underwater! You can definitely go scuba diving when the weather is wet. However, scuba diving is not for all, so a rainy day is also a good opportunity to explore Nouméa’s museums. Going to the cinema, enjoying a spa day or taking part in a game of ten-pin bowling or laser tag are all great options for rainy day activities, no matter what kind of traveller you may be.

  • What time is sunset and sunrise in New Caledonia?

The shortest days in winter fall around 20 June, with the sun rising at 6.30 am and setting at 5.15 pm. The longest days in summer fall around 20 December, when the sun rises at 5 am and sets at 6.30 pm. Generally speaking, the difference between winter and summer daylight hours is less in the tropics than in Europe.

  • Is topless or naturist swimming/sunbathing acceptable in New Caledonia?

Going topless is acceptable on some beaches in Nouméa, but elsewhere it can be seen as offensive since local cultural traditions place a high value on modesty. And apart from an unofficial beach at Nouville, naturism is very much discouraged.