Don't Miss Places In New Caledonia
New Caledonia, in the southwest Pacific Ocean, is an overseas territory of France. It consists of the island of New Caledonia and several outlying islands, principally the Loyalty Island, the Isle of Pines, and the Belep Islands. The island of New Caledonia, the largest in the group, is circled by one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. Its landscape stretches across the rugged mountains, forests, and open grasslands.
The original inhabitants of New Caledonia were the Kanaks, a group of Melanesian people whose ancestors probably came from the islands of Papua New Guinea. The Melanesians still make up the largest group of people in the territory, but there are also many Europeans. The French claimed the islands of New Caledonia as part of their overseas territory in the mid 1800s. Between 1864 and 1897, the French government used the territory as a penal colony.
Here are the not to be missed places in New Caledonia:
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Amedee Lighthouse Island
This small island with the lighthouse of Amedee in the center is made in all cast iron and sister of another lighthouse that was left in France. It is easily accessible by various tour companies present in Noumea. The organized tours that are programmed for the Amedee Lighthouse Island are very touristy, with sensational and abundant buffet, local dances, and a chance to see from the boat the reef, the bottom with the beautiful marine life, as well as use the bathrooms, swim in clear water and a little time for sunbathing. It is a small green island in the blue ocean where the beautiful lighthouse stands in the center. Here and there, under the palm trees in the shade it is easy to find some tricot (an endemic sea snake that is common in the Caribbean Sea and in New Caledonia) asleep. The important thing is not to take them or touch with your hand or get too close because they are still rather slow and sleeping on the ground, faster at sea but they are not at all aggressive.
The view from the lighthouse and going up and down a long staircase strictly on foot is really fantastic. For those who come to stay in Noumea for a few days and want to stay relaxed, this place is a must. For the more adventurous tour of the island, you can rent a boat trip to snorkel. The lighthouse is positioned in the middle of the island, and it is much cheaper if you get there by the taxi boat. You can follow the path to snorkel which is located a few meters away from the beach.
Le Musee Maritime de Nouvelle-Caledonie
Le Musee Maritime de Nouvelle-Caledonie is a museum that has been restored in less than a year but has now successfully resumed its operations once again. The collections are well distributed and quite rich. The documentation is very well done. In addition, the museum is easily accessible, very educational and knows to keep the visitor's interest even for non-regulars of this kind of place. Through the exhibition, you will have a better understanding of the history of New Caledonia. The exhibit begins from the time of the arrival of the first navigators or the first explorers up to the time of the American presence during the Pacific War. The section on the expedition of La Perouse is very interesting and complete with photographs displayed on the exhibits. You can spend a pleasant 90 minutes or more here, and you will also receive a warm welcome from the lovely staff at the reception followed by some fantastic displays that are all housed in a building built specifically for this purpose.
There is so much to see and admire starting from the wonderful descriptions of European sailors, trips they made, and the fate of their meeting. It shows great memories of ships on an interactive screen where children can also learn a lot about history. You will also learn about some of the first settlers, places like Java, Japan, North Africa, and of course, the French prisoners. The toilets here are fun to use for it is shaped like a vessel. This museum is highly recommended for the whole family, couples with children, or educational tours. It is a Small museum but dense in the variety and amount of things to see. Another interesting section is about the First Pacific browsers coasters through the exhibition on the research of Lapérouse. Truly worth a visit, not to mention the always interesting temporary exhibitions. The entrance fee comes at a very affordable price; do not miss this museum while in New Caledonia.
Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie
If you have a couple of hours take time to visit the Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie despite the small size, you can enjoy a taste of what can be expected from the reef/ lagoon of New Caledonia. It is great for kids, but if you have the chance, put a mask and a pair of fins and everything will be even more exciting! A jump to the Aquarium des Lagons (very well maintained) deserves to see two things, the nautilus (impossible to see in nature and fascinating) and the tricot rayé sea snake. The aquarium has a reasonable diversity along with the corals and tropical fish despite the limited size. There are two sections that will immediately catch your attention; the small leopard shark at the entrance and a special section for the Nautilus, which is the official symbol of the country.
It also serves as a great museum where you can find almost all the animals of the South Pacific. Not to be missed are the feeding of the animals at certain times of the day. The aquariums are very nicely decorated and the explanations are all informative and provided by knowledgeable guides. There are many species of marine wildlife animals and larger fish such as barracuda and sharks. The entry fee is very reasonable, about € 8.
Ile aux Canards Island
For those arriving in Nuomea, the first attempt to snorkel safely can certainly be done at this island, from the beach where there is access to a sea lane to admire the many colors of the reef. The Ile aux Canards Island is accessible by taxi boat at low cost and you can also stay the whole day (there is a restaurant / bar) maybe alternating between sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. For lovers of most tourist trips, it is filled with local dances and rich buffet (more than sea and sun). It is a very pleasant place and really great for snorkeling and all this just a few minutes by boat from the city. A few meters from the shore there are coral reefs and huts.
You can also see an exhibition of wooden sculptures on the beach, watch the birds that nest, and have lunch at a great restaurant where food is served in Melanesian style. It is an excursion that truly deserves to be made when in the islands of New Caledonia! If you are fit, easy crossing can be done by paddle or kayak. The price with the taxi boat is not too high to get there (only a few minutes from Anse Vata) and the underwater fauna is very varied.
Anse Vata Beach
Anse Vata Beach is located in the southernmost town of Noumea; it is fairly quiet but well served with the center by a bus service. There are shops and restaurants, the beach is covered with quite fine sand and shady, and the sea is stunning. There is the opportunity to do water sports or go to kite surfing excursions to the atolls of Ilot Maitre and Ile aux Canards or rent the boats that start right from the beach. It is a nice area to stay in Noumea with the opportunity to relax and do a wide selection of water sports activities. The beauty of the site and the tranquility of the passages to other parts of the island and relaxed lifestyle of the inhabitants make this beach one of the most interesting beaches to see in New Caledonia. It is a very nice beach close to many tourist hotels. Many services are available (boat taxi, shops, and a small local market).
It is considered as the largest beach in Noumea since it stretches from the tip of the Meridian at the forefront of the Rock of Sailing. It will satisfy even the most unconvinced because it has lots of various aspects. It is first a small sheltered beach that borders the Alizée Le Méridien - with a spot popular with kite surfers - and Royal Terra, the port of call that is near the Nouméans Royal Castle Beach, in reference to the old name Terra. It is a large sandy beach where a southeast wind blows to the delight of windsurfers. The beach is lined with trees that provide cooling shade to bathers, a popular paved promenade for walkers, and a large number of free parking spaces. During your walk you can spot the bars, cafes, restaurants and shops which are all located along the coast line. The Anse Vata ends with a rocky outcrop facing the aquarium which is very near the Surf and Casino.
Hill Ouen Toro
From the top of the Hill Ouen Toro you will get a magnificent 360° views across the region. It is best to park your car in the nearby small parking lot of full land, halfway up the Ouen Toro – it is quite crowded and difficult if you go around 4:00 pm at which time the Nouméans are walking their dogs. Then circle the platform and admire the view of the city, Anse Vata, the islets and Pointe Magnin. Back in the car park, you can cross the main road and take the shady paths leading to the top of the hill. The last part is steep, but the game is worth it because the view from the top is breathtaking. Do not forget your camera! Go back down to the quay and sit on a bench or on the grass to watch the sunset.
Naysayers will say that this is just a hill, but it is with the esplanade of the FOL, one of the finest views of Nouméa points that are oriented to the western part of the island. It is better to enjoy it in the evening to admire the view of the Anse Vata at sunset. It is a popular meeting place of Nouméans especially the park around the American guns during the 2nd World War. Shortly before the summit, the hill serves as a takeoff point for paragliders.
Plage de la Baie des Citrons (Lemon Bay)
Beautiful bay sheltered from the prevailing winds, the Plage de la Baie des Citrons or the Lemon Bay is one of the prominent beaches in Nouméa. In recent years, the hill is covered with residential buildings while commercial establishments facing the sea and if the bay has gained animation, she lost her relatively wild aspect and thus some of its charm. However, it remains very popular with families during the day and young people who attend the evening with attendance due to the large number of restaurants and clubs. The seaside location is excellent and most restaurants and hotels are located on the bay, very well appointed and un-crowded even during school holidays when it is ideal to spend a few hours or half a lazy day.
The Lemon Bay is easily accessible but gets very busy in the summer season. Swimming is easier in the central part. On the left side there are too many rocks and corals, while on the right beware of snakes. If you feel famished after swimming, just cross the road to drink or eat. It is one of the few open-access beaches of New Caledonia. The recent restoration work has helped to make the place more elegant and classy and the natural part more enhanced. It is one of the two city beaches that is ten minutes from downtown and served by public transport with ample parking, toilets, restaurants, bars and shops nearby.
The Ilot Maitre is a beautiful setting and a change of ambience along with its splendid lagoons. In the morning you can see turtles feeding near the beach. As for the restaurant, the desserts were particularly impressive like the raspberry tarts, chocolate mini-opera, etc. It is a pure treat! The staff is friendly and attentive. The beautiful little island is about 15 minutes away by boat taxi from Noumea.
The island is cute but the beach is very narrow. The hotel is quite nice with a bar in the pool and bungalows on the water. The bungalows are nice and clean, same with the garden. Be careful if you are afraid of birds because every night the gardens are full of big black birds that nest in the sand and emit squeaks like a child crying. A bit creepy but still forms part of the charm of this island.
Parc Zoologique et Forestier
The Parc Zoologique et Forestier is a very nice park that is popular with younger people who never tire of admiring animals. There are several playgrounds and picnic areas in the park, which invite guests to stay there all day. Most of the animals are endemic to New Caledonia and is also very interesting. It also allows everyone to become familiar with the animals that can be seen in the surrounding nature of New Caledonia.
With children or without, it is a perfect ride for a sunny afternoon. Some of the birds are in total freedom. One can see the famous cagou and almost even touch. Tables are available for picnics. Everything is very well thought out so that visitors can enjoy their day without getting bored. The part of the flora with the dry forest is very nice and quiet, with a beautiful view of Noumea at the top. This park is a must for tourists.
Musee de Nouvelle Caledonie
The Musee de Nouvelle Caledonie is a museum that is very informative in relation to the Kanak and also the Melanesian culture. You can also attend a free braiding workshop held under the patio. The museum is located in the center of Noumea and it is a striking building in relation to the environment. The museum has two floors and you will find Melanesian art and Lapita pottery. It is a nice museum that is worth visiting and closes at noon for lunch. There are lots of great pictures and beautiful native catamarans. The museum allows an easy approach to the history of New Caledonia and the Pacific Ocean at a more than reasonable price. The exhibits are very well done and highly recommended.
The best way to enjoy the tour of New Caledonia is to hire a small boat and go around the island and check out all its important points of interest as well as see the coral reefs surrounding the main island. The whole island is stunning and provides lots of opportunities to create great photos. It is the second largest barrier reef of the coral world and second only to the north of Australia. The landscape is magnificent and you must never miss an opportunity to visit and explore it when you are in New Caledonia.