New Caledonia’s East Coast - Splendours of the North
While many visitors to New Caledonia plan trips to Nouméa and the archipelago’s incredible island groups, there are countless captivating things to see and do across Grand Terre. If you’re wanting to explore more of this spectacular corner of the globe, there’s no better place to start than the northern splendours of New Caledonia’s East Coast.
What is this part of New Caledonia’s East Coast known for?
Just like the rest of New Caledonia, the East Coast is abundant in incredible natural beauty. Lined with amazing coastal regions, peppered with fantastic diving spots and home to rich valleys perfect for hiking, it’s a corner of the archipelago that looks spectacular at any time of the year.
Much more than just a pretty face, the northern reaches of the East Coast also offer an opportunity to encounter and embrace the local Kanak culture. Enjoy an introduction to the arts and traditions of the Kanak people, visit a local village or delight your senses with the sights and sounds of a traditional show.
What are the top things to do in this part of New Caledonia?
If you’re looking for the perfect balance of breathtaking natural beauty and captivating culture, there’s no better place to start than Hienghène. Black-stone cliffs add a sense of drama to the landscape, while lush vegetation and the sparkling waters of the lagoon offer the perfect backdrop for swimming, snorkelling, hiking and a host of other activities.
Around 5 hours from Nouméa by car, the attractions and experiences found in this corner of Grand Terre make the journey well worth the effort.
Kayak around the Hen and Sphinx
Situated in Hienghène Bay, the Hen and Sphinx are just two of the many black-stone rock formations scattered throughout the bay. Known locally as La Poule, the Hen earns its name from it’s chicken-like shape and a fascinating local legend, while the Sphinx’s resemblance to its Egyptian namesake is certainly hard to deny! While these intriguing rock formations are great to view from the shore, hiring a kayak and seeing them up close is another experience altogether. Paddle around these imposing natural figures and marvel in their sheer scale, with some rocks towering 60 metres above the waters below.
See the beautiful Tao Waterfall
For those looking for the perfect excuse to cool down, soak up some great views and enjoy a touch of ethereal natural beauty, Tao Waterfall is just the ticket. Following a short drive north of Hienghène Village and a ferry crossing of the Ouaième River, an easy hiking trail (taking around 40 minutes to complete) will lead you from the main road to the waterfall. Enjoy a well earned dip on a warm sunny day or simply take some time to revel in the beauty of this incredible natural phenomenon. For your safety, it’s recommended that you avoid walking the trail during or after heavy rain as it may be slippery. The path leading to the falls is maintained by the local Tao tribe, with a small entrance fee applying to visitors.
Ride the Ouaième ferry
The last of its kind in New Caledonia, the Ouaième ferry acts as a link between the towns of Pouébo and Hienghène. Without a bridge to take vehicles to the opposing bank, cars and coaches are loaded on to a steel ferry and carried across the short stretch of water. Although the ferry ride may be quite short, the crossing offers some fantastic views of the native plantlife that lines the banks of the Ouaième River and out towards the lagoon. The ferry service is free to use and operates daily.
Explore Hienga Islet
Situated just 15 minutes off the coast, a visit to Hienga Islet is sure to leave you feeling worlds away from the daily grind. Currently uninhabited, the small island is surrounded by soft white sands and beautifully clear waters. Join a guided tour that takes you along the island’s underwater snorkelling trail and see the diverse marine species that call the area home, enjoy a stroll along the coast or simply take some time to sit back, relax and soak up the incredible scenery.
Looking for more great things to see and do in Hienghene? Check out our Hienghene attraction guide and find your next adventure.
A little over 4 hours from Nouméa by car, and around an hour southeast of Hienghène, Poindimié is perhaps best known for its spectacular location, set between mountains and the sea. Perfectly positioned, the town offers visitors a multitude of things to see, do and discover, making it a great addition to any northern itinerary. Get ready to chase waterfalls, embrace your inner adventurer and learn something new with the top things to see and do across the Poindimié region.
Visit Tibarama Islet
Said to be one of the most beautiful islands in New Caledonia, beyond its captivating scenery, Tibarama Islet is perhaps best known for its fantastic snorkelling. Covered with towering pine trees, it’s the waters surrounding the island that attract visitors from across the globe. Join a guided tour and spend time exploring the interesting world that lies beneath the water’s surface or enjoy the opportunity to take part in a host of fun activities, from traditional-style cooking to cast net fishing.
Visit the Napoémien Valley
Home to around 20 different tribes, the Napoémien Valley is a great place to head if you’re wanting to experience the local Kanak culture and enjoy an incredible introduction to the region’s natural beauty. Spend some time with the locals, learning about the medicinal plants found throughout the rainforest or sharing a hearty traditional bougna (a dish of yams, sweet potatoes, meat and coconut milk wrapped in banana leaves and baked over hot stones). Set out on a hike, visiting pretty waterfalls and soaking up amazing views of the ocean and beyond, or see the valley’s mysterious petroglyphs during a guided tour.
Go diving or snorkelling
Boasting more than 50 great diving sites, if you happen to have an interest in diving and snorkelling, Poindimié is one part of New Caledonia that shouldn’t be missed. Beneath the region’s sparkling waters lay interesting natural rock formations, brightly coloured corals and so much more. Home to an incredibly diverse array of marine life, Poindimié’s diving spots are a true delight for snorkellers, divers and photographers alike. Stop by the Tiéti Diving centre in Poindimié for great snorkelling and scuba diving tours.
Need more inspiration for your next Poindimié escape? Find your next adventure with our Poindimié attraction guide.