The north of Grand Terre and the Loyalty Islands represent the survival of a fragile world, one untouched by mass tourism where the indigenous Melanesians treat nature with care and respect.
Melanesian cultureVoir plus
Discovering these areas is above all, about meeting its people and learning about their traditional way of life. A homestay in a tribal hut accommodation is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Kanak culture and have an authentic New Caledonian experience.
Kanaks are the largest cultural group in New Caledonia, making up 44.1% of the population. They are Melanesians, the group of people who inhabit many of the islands in the south-western pacific. They are warm people filled with natural good humour. The large majority of Kanak live in clan communities inland or along Grande Terre’s east coast and on the Loyalty Islands, where they make up to 98% of the population.
Traditional way of life
Staying in a Kanak community offers an otherwise rare insight into Melanesian culture, while at the same time contributing to the economic development of local communities that still largely subsist on hunting and small-scale farming. In most tribes, you will meet locals who are eager to share their lifestyles and welcome you in their traditional huts. Here, they will invite you to participate in their everyday activities and introduce you to their customs.
If invited into a home, visitors should make a small offering, often referred to as a “customary gesture”. This action (rather than the gift itself) shows that you respect your hosts, and potentially provides the opportunity to learn more about their tribe or visit specific clan sites such as secret caves, cliffs, beaches or lakes.
Stay in a tribe
In the past few years many of New Caledonia's remote indigenous communities have opened their doors to tourists, providing a fascinating - and affordable - sleeping option. In tribal accommodation, guests generally sleep in typical Melanesian huts set slightly apart from the family house. The clay or cement floor huts have mats for sleeping and a traditional hearth in the centre. Cooking and showering facilities are housed in separate buildings.
In the Loyalty Islands, the “Accueil en tribu des îles” label, created in 2011, enables visitors to stay in tribal huts alongside local inhabitants in the island’s tribal areas (terre coutumière). Accommodation is divided into three categories with a frangipane flower ratings system and the network covers approximately 30 tribal hut properties.
The majority of the community will join you on a massive outdoor bench for a huge, drawn-out feast, often involving a ‘bougna’, the traditional Kanak meal with meat, fish and vegetables wrapped in coconut leaves and slowly cooked on hot rocks.
You can also taste other local cuisine like deer, fox or wild pig hunted in the night, shrimp caught in the creek of the tribe, lagoon fish, yams, taros, potatoes or breeds harvested in the traditional fields... and if you're really lucky, the ultimate Kanak delicacy might be on the menu du jour - flying fox.
Other highlights of a Kanak community homestay include nature walks, fishing, bird watching and traditional storytelling.