8 Best things to do in New Caledonia

New Caledonia is more than your typical beach destination. It offers hiking, camping, snorkeling, diving, amazing french food, mountain chalets and of course paradisiac beaches… In this article, we will explore all the best things to do in New Caledonia and why it should be your next travel destination.

New Caledonia is an archipelago located in Melanesia, in the Western Pacific Ocean, about 1200 km East of Australia and 2000 km north of New Zealand. It includes Grande Terre (the main island), the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Chesterfield Islands, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets and atolls.

Despite being about 16 000 km from continental France, New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France, speaks French, and has some great French cuisine. Curiously, New Caledonia is the piece of land located furthest from its sovereign country.

Best Things to do in New Caledonia

#1 Explore Noumea

Noumea is the capital city of New Caledonia and a city made to roam and explore. Particularly for those who like to immerse in the local culture and learn about its history and heritage. Besides its own attractiveness, Noumea is the best place to stay if you want to make day trips to the pristine islands, the trails, and other attractions spread through Grande Terre.

In Noumea, you can find several museums, art galleries, and theaters, making it the true artistic core of the country. There are still some colonial houses like Maison Célières, Château Hagen, and the old Nouméa City Hall, which are incredible sights when roaming around the town.

The Promenade, Sebastopol Street, and Alma Street are the 3 principal streets you shouldn’t miss when visiting Noumea. At the same time, Baie des Citrons, Anse Vata Bay, the World War 2 museum, and Ouen Toro are the 4 most prominent tourist attractions in Noumea.

Best things to do in New Caledonia
Noumea capital city of New Caledonia | photo by Zarnell via Depositphotos

#2 Hike to Mont Dore

The summit of Mont-Dore dominates the panorama south of Noumea and provides magnificent views of the town, the islands, and the lagoons.

The hike is about 7 km and is fairly difficult, mostly because it has some steep parts. You should count with about 4 hours to hike this trail. There are several ways up, but the most beautiful is probably the cliff trail.

#3 Discover Mare

It’s difficult to choose the fascinating island in New Caledonia, but Mare is undoubtedly a great contender. Mare offers its visitors incredible views, a vibrant history, and a strong identity.

Despite this, Mare is still a largely wild and untouched island, yet it has many interesting things to do and see. Among Mare’s attractions, we need to highlight a few:

  • The Shabadran terraces are challenging to reach but well worth the time and effort. They are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • Warrior’s leap – a must-see place for anyone going to Mare; these jagged and sharp cliffs are picturesque. The legend says that a warrior jumped these cliffs to escape his enemies. The leap is 5-7 meters wide. It isn’t a good idea to try it yourself…
  • Natural Aquarium – a shallow natural pool with emerald water created by coral walls and supplied with a subterranean source. This large and shallow lake is a refuge for turtles and fish. It’s an astonishing place, but note that swimming is prohibited.

#4 Biking, hiking, and kayking in Blue River Provincial Park

Blue River Park is easily the most popular park in New Caledonia. This provincial park offers great hiking, biking, and kayaking opportunities.

We strongly advise hiring bikes in the park and cycling along the paths. It’s a truly excellent way of getting to know the park. Or, on the other hand, enjoy a paddle in one of the kayaks down the sky-blue waters of the Blue River.

What to do in New Caledonia
New Caledonian barrier reef | photo by wildam via Depositphotos

#5 Go snorkeling on a huge lagoon

The New Caledonian barrier reef is the longest continuous barrier reef in the world and the second largest after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is almost 1500km long and surrounds Grande Terre, Isle of Pines, and a few other smaller ones.

With such a long reef and marvelous beaches, snorkeling opportunities are spread all over New Caledonia. The water in this enormous lagoon holds an incredible variety of fish and other sea animals in a kaleidoscope of colors and forms that will blow your mind.

Snorkeling in New Caledonia
Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in New Caledonia

#6 Day trip to Amédée Island

Amedee island is a unique marine reserve within the 24,000 km² coral reef lagoon of New Caledonia and probably the best day trip from Noumea. The island is home to the Amedee lighthouse, built in 1865 to provide ships with safe passage through a small break in the reef. This is the Boulari passage, which leads to Noumea.

You can take a private boat or go as part of a day tour on the island, with plenty of things to do – look at turtles from the glass-bottomed boat, visit the reef break, swim, snorkel, and so on…

However, most importantly, you should climb the lighthouse for great views across the lagoon. At 56 meters high, this famous landmark is an imposing attraction, but those views are breathtaking…

Best attractions of New Caledonia
Amédée Island in New Caledonia | photo by Matpix via Depositphotos

#7 Relax in Isle of Pines

It’s difficult to picture a more dreamy place than the Isle of Pines… It has everything you expect from a paradisiac island, snow-white sand beaches, palm trees, turquoise lagoons, a coral reef booming with life… and the exotic bonus of pine trees in a tropical island…

The Isle of Pines is very popular as a romantic getaway and sometimes viewed as a honeymoon destination. Let’s face it, it is… but it’s more than that. For us, Isle of Pines is a place where you have time to relax, as a couple or not…

It’s not that you don’t have plenty of things to do… You can go snorkeling or diving in the reefs, hiking in the island’s interior, kayaking, swimming in the bays, sunbathing on the beach, and so on… But it’s the slow pace of the island lifestyle that will make you unwind.

What to do in New Caledonia
Where to go in New Caledonia- The Isle of Pines | photo by khellon via Depositphotos

#8 Enjoy the local food

Despite being on the other part of the planet, New Caledonia is part of France, and it’s been part of France for many years now. France’s influence on the cuisine is evident everywhere. It’s reasonably easy to find French and French-influenced food like croissants, cheeses, chocolates, and wines.

Yet, you can also find traditional Polynesian food, which is pretty exotic but delicious. When it comes to local food, you should try the Bougna, a dish that combines chicken and fish with bananas, sweet potatoes, yams, and coconut milk, all wrapped in banana leaves.

However, we believe you’ll find it way more interesting to taste the food that mixes the French technique (and quality) with the exotic touch of South Pacific cuisine and heritage while making the most of local ingredients. Things like: Unicorn fish poached in Malibu and white wine served with mashed potatoes and saffron-scented mussels, asparagus, and broad beans sound pretty good, right?

Best time to visit New Caledonia

New Caledonia has a nice semi-tropical climate, a hot and rainy season, and a cooler and drier season. The average temperatures go as low as 20º average in cooler months and 28º in the hottest. The Summers are hot and humid and go between December and March, while winters are cooler and drier between June and September.

You should be aware that cyclones are possible in New Caledonia, usually from November to May, though they are most likely from late December to early April.

The best time to visit New Caledonia is probably during October and November. During this time, temperatures are already rising, and there’s little rain yet. During the colder months it may be chilly for sunbathing and swimming and during summers there’s a higher probability of rain…

Best activities in New Caledonia
Where to go in New Caledonia – Island of Noumea | photo by wildam via Depositphotos

What to pack when traveling to New Caledonia

When it comes to clothing, it really depends on your activities, mostly when traveling to New Caledonia. In the winter (from June to August) you should bring light clothes for the day, but don’t forget long sleeve clothes and possibly a light jacket for the evening; a light raincoat will also be needed. In the summer (from December to February): bring tropics-friendly, loose-fitting clothing, a sun hat, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and even a light raincoat

Other items you really shouldn’t forget to bring to New Caledonia include:

  • waterproof phone cover – You are always close to the water in New Caledonia, so additional protection for your phone is a good idea.
  • Good Power bank – While traveling, you may end up without electricity for long periods, so a power bank will help you ensure you always have your phone and camera working.
  • Neck pillow – Let’s be honest, New Caledonia is pretty amazing but it’s far from everything, even Australia and New Zealand. Your flight will be long, or very long… Check here our full neck pillows buying guides.
  • Go Pro – You’ll visit beautiful New Caledonia places and do some adventure activities. A Go-Pro is easily the best way to save those moments forever.
  • Waterproof dry bag – If you are into snorkeling, diving, kayaking, or any water activity, you should take a waterproof dry bag. Tip: if you get a bigger one, you may occasionally use it as a day pack.
  • Snorkeling gear – As you already know by now, New Caledonia has some serious snorkeling spots, and sometimes they are just off the beach. If you take your own gear, you won’t need to rent every time you want to snorkel. You’ll save a ton, and it’s much more hygienic.
  • Rubber-soled water shoes – the reefs are sharp and will cut your feet… it’s so much easier and safer to take water shoes, and don’t worry about it anymore…
  • Light daypack – New Caledonia has fantastic day trips, hiking trips, full-day tours, and so on. We strongly advise taking a small, light backpack on these trips. It’s also beneficial if you go to the smaller islands for the day…

This is a sponsored post written by travel drafts and brought to you by New Caledonia and Air Cailin.

Interesting things of New Caledonia
Pines Island in New Caledonia | photo by Matpix via Depositphotos

Sharing is caring!