For an unforgettable stay in New Caledonia, check out our list of 15 must-do experiences when you visit the archipelago! Whether it's hiking on Grande Terre, diving in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed lagoon, recharging your batteries on the islands’ most beautiful beaches or sharing a special moment with a Kanak tribe, New Caledonia offers unique experiences that will touch your heart. There is a wide variety of land- and sea-based activities to choose from, and the following are not to be missed!
1. Skydive in Poé, West Coast
2. Enjoy a tribal welcome and feast on bougna, The Islands
3. Kayak around the Rocks and the Poule de Hienghène, East Coast
4. Sail on a traditional outrigger in Upi bay, The Islands
5. Swin in the natural pool of Oro Bay, The Islands
6. Go whale watching on a catamaran, Great South
7. Visit the Tjibaou Cultural Center, Nouméa
8. Spend a relaxing day at the Amédée Lighthouse, Nouméa
9. Enjoy a gourmet French meal
10. Swim in the turquoise waters of Mouli Beach, The Islands
11. Walk along the Lékiny cliffs, The Islands
12. Dance with manta rays, Nouméa / The Islands
13. Go diving on the Poindimié coral reef, East Coast
14. Fly over the heart of Voh in a microlight, West Coast
15. Paddle between the trees of the drowned forest, Great South
1. SKYDIVE IN POÉ
The adrenaline rush of skydiving is rivalled only by the sight of the largest lagoon in the world from the air. The experience of jumping from over 4000 metres and free-falling at more than 200 km/h is truly indescribable. Not to mention the memorable minutes spent suspended in mid-air once the parachute has deployed!
2. ENJOY A TRIBAL WELCOME AND FEAST ON BOUGNA
To immerse yourself in the rich Kanak culture, dating back thousands of years, you must experience a tribal welcome. On top of the welcome ceremony, known as "faire la coutume", you can also sleep in a hut and sample some tasty bougna (a dish of tubers steamed in coconut milk). There are countless traditions to share with the indigenous people of New Caledonia!
3. KAYAK AROUND THE ROCKS AND THE POULE DE HIENGHÈNE
It's impossible to miss the imposing black limestone rock that looms out of the waters of Hienghène Bay. Known as "La Poule" because of its striking resemblance to a hen, it has even influenced the legends of the local tribes, who made it the ancestral guardian of the region and one of the symbols of their country. To get a closer look and navigate around the surrounding Lindéralique rocks, a kayak is the way to go!
4. SAIL ON A TRADITIONAL OUTRIGGER IN UPI BAY
You cannot leave New Caledonia without sailing around Upi Bay in a traditional dugout canoe. Follow the current to the stunning Isle of Pines, concealed between huge coral rocks that seem to float on the turquoise lagoon. In terms of wildlife, keep a lookout for turtles, rays and dolphins!
5. SWIM IN THE NATURAL POOL OF ORO BAY
The Oro Bay swimming pool is a natural aquarium, with translucent water and schools of multicoloured fish. This coral basin is sheltered from the currents, surrounded by New Caledonia pines and a beautiful white sand beach. It is easily accessible via a trail to the north of the Isle of Pines or from Upi Bay by dugout canoe.
6. GO WHALE WATCHING ON A CATAMARAN
From July to September, humpback whales come to give birth in the warm waters of the New Caledonian lagoon. Seeing these giants emerge from the waters is a truly extraordinary experience! The best way to witness these special moments is to take a catamaran from Prony Bay in the Great South or from Nouméa.
7. VISIT THE TJIBAOU CULTURAL CENTER
In the outskirts of Nouméa stands the majestic Tjibaou Cultural Centre. A beacon of Kanak culture, designed by the celebrated architect Renzo Piano, this imposing building is a must-visit destination to understand and immerse yourself in the Melanesian world. The centre combines national history, traditional sites and exhibitions of contemporary artists.
8. SPEND A RELAXING DAY AT THE AMÉDÉE LIGHTHOUSE
No-one should leave Nouméa without visiting Amédée, the capital's most famous islet. It is home to an impressive 19th century metal lighthouse and a natural marine reserve known for its tropical fish and turtles. If you want to take a break from swimming and relaxing, the climb to the lighthouse offers an incredible 360° panorama over the lagoon and the coral reef!
9. ENJOY A GOURMET FRENCH MEAL
If you want to capture the essence of New Caledonia, dinner is a good place to start! A French island in the Pacific Ocean, its cuisine combines French gastronomy with Oceanic recipes to create an explosion of flavour. To enjoy this unique culinary experience, head to the restaurants and hotels that line the bays of Nouméa. Bon appétit!
10. SWIM IN THE TURQUOISE WATERS OF MOULI BEACH
Ouvéa, known as the island closest to paradise, is home to one of the country's most beautiful beaches: Mouli. A picture-postcard destination with white sand and crystal clear water, it is the perfect place to just relax. Mouli Bridge, the only bridge between the south and north of the island, is also worth a visit!
11. WALK ALONG THE LÉKINY CLIFFS
For New Caledonians, the Lékiny cliffs are Ouvéa's crowning glory. These imposing limestone formations are scattered with caves and can be visited on foot or by glass-bottom boat. To end your outing on a high note, you can also go snorkelling in the translucent water at the foot of the cliffs.
12. DANCE WITH MANTA RAYS
NOUMÉA / THE ISLANDS
The New Caledonian lagoons are full of underwater wonders, including manta rays. These mysterious devilfish are often found around the Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands, where they can be observed by snorkellers, as well as on scuba dive trips throughout the whole territory. A truly unforgettable encounter!
13. GO DIVING ON THE POINDIMIÉ CORAL REEF
The archipelago is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, and Poindimié is one of the best places to see it up close thanks to its beautiful dive spots! Under the water, a spectacular garden of coral and multicoloured fish unfurls before your eyes.
14. FLY OVER THE HEART OF VOH IN A MICROLIGHT
Immortalised by the famous photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, this striking feature has been shared around the world. The Heart of Voh was formed naturally by the surrounding mangrove. Best seen from the air, a microlight is the ultimate way to take in this memorable sight!
15. PADDLE BETWEEN THE TREES OF THE DROWNED FOREST
In the heart of the Blue River Provincial Park, the Drowned Forest is famous for the hundreds of bleached gum oak trunks that have emerged from the lake since the creation of a huge dam. It is accessible during the day, but nothing compares to kayaking through this ghostly setting in the moonlight!