I recently surprised my husband, Joe, with a trip to New Caledonia... yeah, yeah, you've likely never heard of it. What a random little spot that nobody in the States knows anything about! New Caledonia is part of the pacific islands, a territory of France, and made up of some 55 odd islands! There's plenty of reasons of why you should not overlook New Caledonia as a tropical getaway, even if you are just hearing about it, and here's why:
1. IT'S A 2.5 HOUR FLIGHT FROM AUSTRALIA
There's a direct flight from Sydney everyday! If you're already in the pacific or down under, it's just a hop, skip and a jump away, and won't break the bank to get to. From Sydney, it's a direct 2.5 hour flight and about 3 hours direct from Auckland. Proximity to Australia is key, because Australia is FAR from everywhere!
2. YOU CAN STAY IN OVERWATER BUNGALOWS FOR A FRACTION OF THE PRICE YOU'D EXPECT
You see amazing overwater bungalows on all the top instagrammers' feeds in amazing places like the Maldives, Bora Bora, Moorea, etc. - BUT, these bungalows are typically costing anywhere from $1K-$1.5K per night for the average visitor. L'Escapade Island Resort is located on this cute, tiny little island just a 30 minute ferry ride from the mainland of Noumea, and it ranges from $300 to about $600 per night, depending on what season you visit in. If you're looking for a unique overwater bungalow getaway but can't afford to break the bank, this is a great spot! There's not much to do on the island outside of water sports and eating at the one restaurant they have, so it makes the rooms the key attraction, making it a good spot for a romantic getaway. PS: don't be naive like us & leave your deck door open since this region is home to sea snakes... you might get some unwanted visitors!! Luckily, the hotel kindly changed us rooms after this happened...
3. IT'S HOME TO THE 2ND LARGEST DOUBLE BARRIER REEF IN THE WORLD
It's one of the top destinations in the world for scuba diving, which is how we decided to visit in the first place, but unfortunately we didn't get to go since we had a storm when we were there! We'll definitely have to go back. It's also home to the largest lagoon in the world, covering 1.3M square kilometers or 80K square miles!! Outside of scuba diving, there's tons of water activities to do. From snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, kite boarding, boating, etc., there's a water activity for everyone.
4. THE FRENCH FOOD
The food was great on the island. There are lots of options outside of French food, but it's pretty unique to have tropical ingredients prepared into French cuisine, making it a unique culinary city. There's lots of fresh seafood to be made, as you can imagine!
5. DIVERSE ISLAND HOPPING
There are lots of islands to hop around to, if you have the time, and they all are known for such different sceneries and landscapes. Isle of Pines is the most famous, commonly known as 'The Jewel of the Pacific' with some pretty amazing bays and beaches lined with tall pine trees. We didn't get a chance to go here but are eager to go back! Outside of the Isle of Pines, you shouldn't overlook Amèdèe Island, Duck Island, Mare, Ouvèa, and Lifou.
The Urbanite Insight's
NEW CALEDONIA TRAVEL GUIDE
SEE & DO
Loyalty Islands - check out my list above. Isle of Pines is the most popular, and you can get there by ferry or a 20 minute flight from Noumea.
The lagoon & reef - various ways to do so as I mentioned above!
Take a ferry or taxi boat to Amèdèe Island and walk to the famous lighthouse on the island
Visit the aquarium - home to some unique sea life!
Take a hike in Le Parc des Grandes Fougères
Visit the Heart of Voh - a natural heart formation best seen by plane or you can take a 4 hour RT hike to a viewpoint. It's a trek to get to Voh, so plan around this if you do want to see it!
Take a yoga class at Studio Yoga in Noumea - Lola is a fabulous teacher & if you're lucky like us and go midday, you might just get a private class!
EAT & DRINK
Au P'tit Cafè - a local gem with the best french food in Noumea
Bodega del Mar - a casual spot to snag cocktails & tapas over the water
Le Deck - a more upscale dining experience over the water with fresh seafood!
Le Trave - a quiet & laid back cocktail bar with great drinks
Marmite et Tire Bouchon - an amazing vibe and great dinner spot! Opt for the set menu as it's not overly priced by any means & you get to try more food.