Health & Safety
New Caledonia is a relatively low risk destination, in terms of both health hazards and personal safety during your stay. You should however take a few basic precautions.
- Check your vaccinations
- Mosquito protection
- Excellent medical facilities
- Useful contact information
- Hazards and precautions you should take
No vaccinations are required for a stay in New Caledonia but we recommend you ensure your standard vaccinations are up-to-date (DTP, hepatitis B). Typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines are optional.
Mosquito bites can be 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, so you should protect yourself from mosquito bites whatever season you are staying in the country.
Buy a repellent suited to local conditions!
When purchasing mosquito repellent in your home country, make it clear that you are travelling to a tropical zone. Many active ingredients found in products sold in the European Union have no effect whatever on local mosquitoes!
If you’re fond of fresh fish, you should take care what you 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.
Excellent medical facilities
Apart from the striped jersey sea snake, whose bite (it is extremely rare to be bitten) can prove fatal, 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: Stonefish, Lionfish, etc.
If, by any chance, you do need to seek treatment from local health services, you need have no worries. New Caledonia's medical facilities are on a par with those of any developed country.
New Caledonia has state-of-the-art medical centres which display medical health expertise equal to anywhere in the South Pacific region.
With its focus on new technology, the Medipole Grand Noumea public hospital opened at the end of 2016 and has modern equipment such as coronary angiography, vascular and brain imaging, scanner, radiation oncology center, decompression chambers (offering a guarantee of safety for all underwater divers) and haemodialysis treatments. So 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 Noumea 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.
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.