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Although New Caledonia shares a Latin name with the fellow island nation of Scotland, you won’t find any cold days or tartan on these sandy shores. Instead, expect deep blue lagoons, quiet islets and fresh seafood. This French territory is home to a diverse mixture of cultures, from the festivals of the indigenous Kanak to French-inspired cathedrals. Accommodation in New Caledonia offers the perfect opportunity to watch your worries float away on the Coral Sea.
If we made an itinerary for New Caledonia holidays, it would go something like this:
Located at the southern end of the main island of Grande Terre, Noumea has heaps of gorgeous architecture. Take a walk through bustling Place Des Cocotiers on your way to the city market. Hope you brought your list of people who wanted souvenirs, because you’ll find just about everything here.
Now, for the “laying on the beach” part. New Caledonia hotels near Baie des Citrons are definitely the place to be for beach bums, but be warned: It’s chockablock with trendy boutiques, delicious restaurants and lively nightclubs, so actually staying on the beach might be harder than you think.
For a little history, visit Le Musee Maritime de Nouvelle-Caledonie and get educated on seafaring exploits with a French twist. If that isn’t your soup du jour, check out the Tjibaou Cultural Centre to browse indigenous Kanak art and participate in demonstrations and events.
Speaking of soup, you’re probably wondering what to eat on this tropical holiday. Well, in New Caledonia you can ignore your parents’ reminders to eat your fruits and veggies. Fill up on the catch of the day (you should hope that it includes lobster) and throw out your low-carb diet to chow down on yams and taro root.
Start your holiday by staring out the window at Saint Vincent Bay; flights to New Caledonia zoom over it en route to La Tontouta International Airport (NOU). You can make the 44km trip to downtown Noumea and see much of Grande Terre using the bus system, but you’ll have to really embrace easygoing “island time”, because stops are infrequent.
Booking your own set of wheels via one of our car hire deals is the best option; traffic is light and there is much to explore. Plus, there’s nothing like rolling the windows down as you leave behind hotels in New Caledonia and cruise along the coastal Route Territoriale 1. Ahh, the freedom of the open road!
If you love a good festival—and who doesn’t, really?—book New Caledonia accommodation on the Loyalty Islands in early September and get ready to party. This year’s Loyalty Islands Fair will be held on Lifou, which just may be the best of the islands, if you ask us. The “Island of Many Faces” has long, pristine beaches, breathtaking cliffs and brightly coloured coral. In fact, it may be hard to pull yourself away long enough to attend the festivities!
Foodies will want to check out the Loyalty Islands, too. The October Seafood Market is a three-day festival dedicated to the bounty of the sea, and in November, the country’s most important root takes centre stage at the Taro Festival. Can you guess what a wajuyu is? It’s the native name for snapper, and it’s also got its own festival in November. Yes, the people of Mare Island sure love to eat!
What about the Big Island? Well, they love to eat, too! Grande Terre has some of the best food in New Caledonia, especially around Christmas time. Markets come alive all over the island, but the village of Farino has one of the best.
Of course, the capital is always bumpin’. Place des Cocotiers will “light” up your holiday, and you can even write a letter to Santa and drop it in his personal mailbox. If you asked him for awesome accommodation in Noumea Harbour, you’re in luck—we’ve got it in spades!
Outdoor escapades on New Caledonia are limited only by your imagination…or how adventurous you’re feeling. Expert trampers must head to the Grande Randonnee, or Great Hiking Trail. It’ll take more than one day in New Caledonia to hike this 120km stretch, but it definitely lives up to its name, crossing through unique peaks and valleys deep in the mining country of the south. You might even be one of the lucky few to catch sight of the rare kagu, a bird that not only barks like a dog, but also has a mohawk. No wonder it’s the national bird of New Caledonia—it’s awesome!
Looking for something that’s in between “extreme bushwalk” and “laying on the beach”? Water sports at Anse Vata Bay in Noumea should fit the bill—or the board.
If you’re in on the international windsurfing circuit, you already know this bay is world-renowned. You’ll also find plenty of shops renting stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and jet skis. Not radical enough? Surf’s up north of Noumea at Roche Percee Beach.
In order to really delve into New Caledonia’s most beautiful spots, you’ll need to shout a hearty “Ahoy matey” and take to the sea. Leave the mainland behind for swimming, snorkelling and snacking at the Amedee Lighthouse, which is located on an island just 24km south of Noumea. Climb to the top for one of the best selfies in the South Pacific.
Keep the island vibes going on Isle of Pines, where the ferry from Noumea drops you directly at one of the best beach spots: Kuto. If you’re feeling more poetic than party-ready, head to secluded Baie d’Oro on the northeast side of the island. Bring your sunnies—you’ve never seen water this blue.
Ready to listen to your holiday self? Wotif has the inside scoop on travel deals and steals so you can mix and match airfares and places to stay in New Caledonia to create the perfect trip. Bring the sun cream and your fanciest beret—you’ve never experienced a getaway like this one!
Hotels in New Caledonia start at AU$126 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.