New Caledonia (New Caledonia)

Languages: French

Currencies: XPF · CFP franc (₣)

Capitol: Nouméa

Continents: Oceania

More useful information

Area: 18,575km2

Population: 271,960

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: No

United Nations member: No

IDD Prefix: +687

Timezones: UTC+11:00

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Last updated on July 4, 2024
Best things to do in New Caledonia- Pacific island closest to heaven.

New Caledonia is a very unique destination – it’s home to the world’s largest lagoon and at the same time is still relatively undiscovered by tourists. I didn’t know much about the country before I went. It turned out New Caledonia is pure paradise, where you can enjoy authentic experience free from the crowds and commercialism, across 140 nearby islands, placed in the middle of the world’s second-largest barrier reef. If you want to discover the main island, you will probably need to rent a car. As far as public transport will serve you well in Noumea (the capital city), you will not be able to reach most breathtaking and spots along the main island. After driving around here is my recommendation for best things to do in New Caledonia.

Best things to do in New Caledonia.

New Caledonia is more than just a pretty tropical island. The island is also rich in culture and history, with a fascinating blend of French and Melanesian influences. I highly recommend getting to know more about the Kanak culture, visiting tribal villages and sampling the delicious local cuisine.


Grande Terre is the main island of New Caledonia. It is almost 400 km long and 50 km wide.

New Caledonia Archipelago consists of more than 140 islands.

It’s French oversees territory with French as an official language 

CFP Franc is official currency.

Most beautiful islands are: Isle of Pines, Amedee Island, Signal Island and Loyalty Islands: Ouvéa, Lifou, Tiga and Maré.

Do you need visa for New Caledonia?

Before planning a trip check VISA requirements for New Caledonia. You most likely don’t need visa for stays under 90 days. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months.

For full information on public transport on the island check my Travel Guide to New Caledonia. 

New Caledonia travel recommendations.

New Caledonia is reachable from Brisbane by a 2 hours flight and from Sydney by a 3 hours flight, for best deals check

While public transport outisde of Noumea (bus schedules on the official website is not well developed, there are few buses reaching some of the island’s highlights. But you will not be able to explore the island by public transport. So if you are planning to discover the island you need a car. I booked my car on with Point Rouge (SuperB rated), with pick-up & drop-off at the airport – the ladies are the best I ever had to deal with in rental company!

Get medical insurance, I can highly recommend SafetyWing. 

Is New Caledonia French?

Yeess – it’s very French 😉 Although I had my best meal in a Thai restaurant with Vietnamese chef! Yammi! 

French is an official language but in Noumea people would speak basic English. 

Life pace is LOW. Sunday is a ghost town for Noumea.

Island hopping across the nearby paradise island is the most exotic experience. 

Sea transportation is high standard, including – water taxis, speed boats, yachts and luxury catamarans.

The island is relatively safe & very clean. Crime rate is low. 

Is New Caledonia dangerous?

My general view would be New Caledonia is quate safe for solo traveling. After spending days in Noumea and driving around the island I can honestly say I felt safe. However.. there are number of homeless people in Noumea – from what I observed all of them are indigenous people of the island. It is not uncommon to be asked for money or cigarettes. They were very kind and I didn’t feel under any pressure to respond, but I’m always respond with kindness. 

I stayed in Auberge Jeunesse Noumea backpackers hostel (fabulous place – the view from my room) and we were given an advice to avoid or to be carefull walking at night. I also heard they are asking for crazy money like $100.. 

Best things to do in New Caledonia - Noumea

Is New Caledonia expensive?

YES! New Caledonia is expensive but the good news is the most enjoyable activities like island hooping and snorkeling in New Caledonia are probably among cheapest adventures to organize. 

There are many supermarkets in Noumea (Auchan, Decathlon, etc.), but in general prices are high.

When not to go to New Caledonia.

There is a tropical climate in New Caledonia and the weather is determined by two seasons:

  • hot and rainy season from December to March
  • cold and dry season from June to September.

I was there in March and the weather wasn’t great, it was very rainy! Additionally, the country was getting ready for elections and although main stream media did not share any news about it, the situation was tense. I saw an increase number of French Police and Army forces monitoring Noumea. They were fully armed, stationing on the streets, it was obvious something bigger was going to happen – New Caledonia is currently undergoing a decolonization process.

Best things to do in New Caledonia - Noumea.

New Caledonia cuisine.

You have to try local specialties such as bougna, a traditional Melanesian dish made with chicken, yams, and coconut milk, or try the island’s famous seafood, which includes everything from lobster and crab to prawns and oysters. From freshly caught seafood to exotic tropical fruits the local cuisine is a delightful discovery!

Island hopping in New Caledonia.

Once you book your ticket you and land on the island, local tour operators will make sure your adventurous itinerary will be memorable for life! Water sports, golf attractions or simply enjoying soft white sand beaches & incredible wildlife.

You can book tours online or choose one of the options onsite, you’ll find vendors in the main port of Noumea, but make sure you go there and book early in the morning (you won’t find them every day).

Island hopping is among best things to do in New Caledonia. There are endless opportunities for exploring a diverse landscapes and unspoiled beauty of the islands from boat trips to snorkeling, diving and water activities. Most amazing destinations are: Amedee Island (the lighthouse), Isle of Pines, Lifou Island, Signal Island and Ouvea, reachable with most popular trips from Tripadvisor:

Best things to do in New Caledonia - Amedee Island

Snorkeling in New Caledonia.

No surprise one of the remote islands – Ouvéa, was called ” The Island Closest to Heaven” after shooting a movie in 1984 with the same title. 

One of the best tour options to Amedee Island with hotel pick up and drop off, including welcome drinks and lunch buffet: Amedee Lighthouse full-day excursion.

If you are seeking for a private tour, there isn’t a better option than top rated Amedee Island and Outer Reef Half-Day Private Water Taxi Tour from Noumea.

Escape to tropical paradise of New Caledonia – What to do in Amedee Island, the snake island.

Traditional Kanak culture.

For a glimpse into the indigenous culture (Kanak) of New Caledonia visit the Tjibaou Cultural Center. I have to say this architectual centre is very impressive. It was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano. The cultural centre is one of the most popular things to do in New Caledonia, it is well promoted and beautifully showcases the heritage and traditions of the island and Kanak culture. 

Getting there: Line N2 (Tanéo)/public bus.

Entry fee: 2,000 XPF (adults).

Best things to do in New Caledonia - Noumea

Attractions in New Caledonia.

Driving around the island is easy, road infrastructure is quite good and safe. The more you travel north the less traffic you’ll witness. The island is covered by dense tropical forest and it’s very green. This is an extremely pleasant and relaxing landscape. 

On the way I stopped to visit Parc Soury-Lavergne (the entry is only available from 6am to 6pm).

Bourail region.

Bourail region is one of the most beautiful to visit on the island. It’s located 170 kilometres from the main Noumea city north direction, 2 hours drive. 

Plage de la Roche Percee is the most recognizable spot of the island, it’s a unique rock formation located on a stunning beach. 

Best things to do in New Caledonia - Bourail, Plage de la Roche Percee.

Bourail - the rock formation.

Plage de la Roche Percee  also know as Bonhomme de Bourail (rock formation) can be admired from both sides. There is a convenient parking near a huge camping area, where you can leave your car just 30 metres from a long sandy beach.

Bourail viewing point.

Just near the Plage de la Roche Percee there is a lovely viewing point along with a pleasant hiking trail. It’s located on the top of the cliff but you can easily drive up. The loop will lead you along an amazing tiny coastal route. 

Reserve Naturelle de la Roche Percee.

Reserve Neturelle de la Roche Percee is one of the most pleasant things to do in the area. You can easily park the car at the end of the road to take a small walk along a magnificent tropical forest with palms and coco trees. The beach should not be approached with dogs, due to turtle reserve. It’s a protected area with a lovely hidden beach. 

Hiking Mont Dore.

Mont Dore is an amazing hike and one of the best things to do in New Caledonia. The mountain offers stunning views of Noumea-the port city. The peak can be approached through the south or east trail, both are well marked from the main road, with a tiny space to leave your car. The starting point can be also accessed by bus.

Mont Dore height: 772 metres.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Although the peak is only 772 metres high, I wouldn’t underestimate the trail which takes about 4.30-5h to accomplish. I would also check the weather forecast, in case of rain the red soil trails becomes extremely slippery. 

Mont Dore trail: 7.3 kilometres

Hiking time: 4.5-5h

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Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!