Noumea

In the port city of Nouméa, the Melanesian culture, Pacific Ocean beauty and French gastronomy combine to give you a totally unique urban experience, island style.

If you love the flair, food and fashion of Paris but also crave a tropical holiday, then Nouméa is the perfect fit. Because it is relatively expensive for a South Pacific destination, Nouméa is not yet spoilt by mass tourism. This is not the kind of place where you stay in your resort all week. It’s where you want to mingle with the locals, try their cuisine and explore the beauty of Grande Terre.

Frequently Asked Questions about Noumea

What are the beaches like in Nouméa?

Nouméa is situated on a hilly peninsula in the south of New Caledonia's Grande Terre. Grey sands, narrow beaches at high tide, frequent southeasterly trade winds and crowds make swimming near the capital somewhat less idyllic than elsewhere in New Caledonia. One of the exceptions is Plage de la Baie des Citrons, which is the prettiest and also most sheltered beach. The bay has soft, yellow sands and shallow water that is ideal for watersports. This beach is about a half-hour walk from the city centre and the hop on/off bus sightseeing stops here too. The largest beach is at Anse Vata, which runs from near the city mall to Rocher à la Voile point. Hot tip: Jump on a water taxi to picturesque Île aux Carnards (Ducks Island), which is just big enough to house a café surrounded by comfy sun lounges. Magenta Beach is closest to the airport and has a park for barbecues and picnics. Looking to get an all-over tan? Head to the nudist beach just south of Kuendu Beach.

What is the food like in Nouméa?

Délicieux (that's French for pretty dang good). Even if French cheeses, wines and pâtés don't get you excited, you should still check out the fine dining scene in New Caledonia. It's now all the rage to serve fusion dishes of Melanesian flavours (coconut, curry, mango, crabs and yams) and French haute cuisine (lobster-and-prawn vol au vent and venison ragoût). Seek out places that are using locally sourced ingredients to come up with menus that change regularly. See it as your cultural duty to splurge in a local restaurant. To save money but still try the local fare, buy your fresh seafood in Port Moselle Harbour, find wine from a local cave à vin (wine shop) and pick up a loaf of crusty bread at a boulangerie for a picnic by the sea. The Melanesian Kanak people of the island have their own cuisine and bring their traditions of 3,000 years to your table. Their 'bougna' earth oven dishes are a must-try during a day trip to the north of Grande Terre and are often part of the tour.

What sort of shopping can I expect in Nouméa?

New Caledonia is generally more expensive than at home because of high tax rates. In fact, many items in the hypermarchés (hyper markets) are imported from Australia and New Zealand, which explains the price hike. Shopping in Nouméa is still worth your while, if only for a cultural experience. Think a mix of French influence, Pacific island artefacts and Melanesian foods and fabrics at the markets. Note that the pharmacies stock many of the beauty products that you'd expect to find in Paris. It's not common to bargain in New Caledonia, as it's considered rude, but you can still politely ask for discounts here and there. If you didn't exchange enough French Pacific Francs (XPF), don't worry. Australian and New Zealand dollars and EFTPOS and credit cards are widely accepted in the more touristy areas, especially downtown where the cruise ships dock. Be aware that most shops are closed at lunch time and on Sundays, with some shops also fermé (closed) on Saturday afternoons or Mondays.