Panorama of a beach and trees on a New Caledonia island

New CaledoniaTravel Guide

New Caledonia lies about halfway between Brisbane and Fiji, a Melanesian paradise that is also a French territory, with jaw-dropping natural beauty and a delectable influence of France (that’s right: think food). There’s an endless list of things to experience here, from exploring the tiny capital city of Noumea to island-hopping by sail boat, discovering the magnificent Isle of Pines, snorkelling above the pristine coral reefs of Ile aux canards (Island of ducks) and… we could go on.If you’re planning a visit, take a look through our New Caledonia travel guide and find out just what delights are awaiting for you in this special South Pacific paradise. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have all sorts of suggestions for things to do, the best time to travel, where to stay, getting around New Caledonia and more.

New Caledonia quick facts

Language

National language

French

Beverages

Bottle of Coke/Pepsi (330ml)

AUD $3.51

Local time

Thursday

11:43pm

Currency

CFP franc

AUD $1.00 = XPF ₣72.74

Eating out

Restaurant meal (casual dining)

AUD $27.49

Electricity

Plug type: C

2 pins • 220V

Explore New Caledonia

Where to stay in New Caledonia?

Each island of the French archipelago has its own unique charm and character. The sprawling main island of Grand Terre, with its tropical metropolis of Noumea, is a place where French architecture and dining clash spectacularly with native culture. Meanwhile, the intense wild allure of the eastern islands is inexplicable and unforgettable. Lush forests give way to pristine stretches of white sand and crystal-clear waters, creating the most surreal and uninhibited natural beauty. New Caledonia is unlike anything you have ever experienced, and you’ll love your holiday here no matter where you stay.

The gorgeous city of Noumea is a gem of wealth and culture in the South Pacific. New Caledonia's capital city, located on Grand Terre Island, is the true artistic centre of the country. French fashion, dining and sophistication soaks into almost every hotel, restaurant, and bar. Inviting beaches are home to hives of activity and the perfect places to lounge after a day of indulgence.


Located in New Caledonia's south, the Isle of Pines is as close as you can get to paradise on earth. Marvel at the pristine white sands and clear turquoise waters. Trek through the ruins of the first penal colony, which stands hauntingly in the overgrowth of the forests. Then relax in the serene natural seawater swimming pool. The isle is extravagant and effortlessly breathtaking.


The main island of Grand Terre is the absolute encapsulation of everything you are bound to love about New Caledonia. To the east, explore the breathtaking central mountain range and lush rainforests. To the west, discover the sublime World Heritage-listed lagoon and spectacular reef. The ancient earth and waterfalls of the Great South are a dazzling palate of red and blue.


The Loyalty Islands are a place of culture and harmony. The native Kanak tribes that inhabit the island are warm and welcoming. Stay overnight in a traditional tribal village and live as the locals do, in a charming timber bungalow. Feast on local cuisine as you're regaled with tales of myth and legend, handed down for generations. The Loyalty Islands are truly a place of magic.


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  • Beach front with rocks coming out of the sand
    • Distant view of New Caledonia with Noumea Cathedral as focal point
    • Two men sitting on the edge of a sailboat with white lighthouse in the background
  • Beach front with rocks coming out of the sand
    Beach front with rocks coming out of the sand
    Beach front with rocks coming out of the sand
  • Distant view of New Caledonia with Noumea Cathedral as focal point
    Distant view of New Caledonia with Noumea Cathedral as focal point
    Distant view of New Caledonia with Noumea Cathedral as focal point
  • Two men sitting on the edge of a sailboat with white lighthouse in the background
    Two men sitting on the edge of a sailboat with white lighthouse in the background
    Two men sitting on the edge of a sailboat with white lighthouse in the background

Things to do in New Caledonia

The list of things to do in New Caledonia is almost endless. Each island is more beautiful than the next. Explore the tiny capital city of Noumea, or go sailing out to a secluded beach on a surrounding island, such as the Isle of Pines. The striking character of each island, restaurant, market and beach is unmistakable.

Home to one of the world's largest barrier reefs, New Caledonia is a hot-spot for snorkelling and diving. Swim among tropical fish, multi-coloured coral, and shipwrecks at Duck Island or Lifou. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, each reef, bay, inlet, and lagoon holds something splendid beneath its surface. Immerse yourself in the real-life aquarium that is New Caledonia.


Whether it's by sea, land or air, sightseeing New Caledonia is an enriching experience. Take a horseback ride along beautiful white sands, through lush rainforest, and across pastoral plains. Discover the islands on foot as you hike ocean headlands, or take a boat through the inland waterways and travel deep into the heart of the islands. Thrill-seekers, look to the skies – charted flights, helicopter tours, and skydiving are all available.


Ancient Kanak culture and modern French architecture meet in the most extravagant fashion. The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre is home to what many critics consider one of the most fascinating contributions to modern architecture in recent ages. Renzo Piano's awe-inspiring timber structures break the canopy of the coastline, almost appearing as fantastically modernistic skyscrapers. The centre is dedicated in memory of its namesake, the figurehead of the Kanak fight for independence.


The Musee du Nouvelle-Caledonie provides an excellent introduction to Kanak culture. Local exhibits of art, sculpture, and artefacts are on display to the general public. Located in the capital city of Noumea, this museum and gallery is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of this gem of the South Pacific.


Sail from island to island and explore a world of tropical wonder. Travelling either by yourself or with a guide, there's no better way to hop between New Caledonia's islands. Weigh anchor and fish out on the bay, or come ashore to discover another side of the lush archipelago. Between islands, simply soak up the sea air and sunshine in style.


Discover unique environments as you explore the islands on foot. Hiking is where New Caledonia truly reveals itself. Explore the ancient lands up close and marvel at the striking beauty of nature. Parks and nature reserves are best hiked with a guide. Their knowledge of the lands, history, and nature will open your eyes to another side of New Caledonia. Some of the most beautiful hiking spots are in the mountainous Northern Province.


St Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral is a magnificent piece of classic French architecture in the most unorthodox surroundings. Following the construction plans of a former convict of the island, the penitentiary workforce were tasked with constructing the holy church in 1887. The structure took 10 years to complete, and the local timbers and stone used give the cathedral other-worldly sensibilities.


From the native fishermen to European exploration, New Caledonia has a long history of maritime affairs. The Musee Maritime de Nouvelle-Caledonie is an insightful glimpse into a territory that has seen many visitors come to its shores over hundreds of years. Learn about the first European exploration of Captain Cook, French settlement, and World War II combat.


Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

New Caledonia travel tips

Though it’s only a few hours’ flight from the east coast of Australia, this tropical oasis can also feel a world away from home – so having some New Caledonia travel tips can help you feel comfortable on your way to your holiday. While certain aspects of the territory may feel familiar, the French influence over the culture and language brings a touch of Europe to proceedings. It’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to plan ahead, no matter how close to home your destination is. Sufficient planning and preparation will ensure you get the maximum amount of enjoyment possible out of your travels.

Whether travelling by air or sea, all visitors to New Caledonia must hold a valid passport. Visitors from Australia and New Zealand can spend up to three months in New Caledonia without having to apply for a visa, provided your passport is valid for at least six months after your original departure date.


New Caledonian food is a varied mix of fresh seafood, poultry, root vegetables, and fresh fruit. The influence of classic French cuisine means that certain delicacies such as venison, aged cheese, and French wines are also available in certain restaurants and hotels. If you have any special dietary requirements, it's always best to ask your waiter or a member of staff for required amendments to the menu.


Electrical outlets in New Caledonia usually supply electricity at 220 volts, compared to Australia's standard of 240 volts. To enable the use of Australian standard electrical products, you'll need to purchase an appropriate adapter prior to your trip. This will ensure you can keep your phone, laptop, camera, and other gadgets charged each day.


La Tontouta International Airport is the primary airport serving New Caledonia. La Tontouta is located on the main island of Grand Terre, in the Paita commune of Noumea. The airport is approximately a 47km drive from the capital city's centre. New Caledonia enforces strict customs laws, especially in regards to the importation of foodstuffs and flora.


The local currency in New Caledonia is the Central Pacific Franc (CFP). New Caledonia is part of the French monetary area and, as such, the cash you exchange here can also be used in other regions of French Polynesia. Australian and New Zealand dollars are also widely accepted currencies in shops, hotels, and restaurants.


Tipping is not widely practised in New Caledonia. Much like in many European nations, you can round up your bill or leave a tip if you have received exceptional service, at your own discretion. It's also good to note that bartering in markets and shops is not part of the accepted local trade culture.


New Caledonia, as part of the French Republic, uses French as its official language. However, 28 distinct Kanak languages are also spoken across the territory, in addition to Indonesian, Vietnamese, Tahitian, Wallisian, and Chinese. With the territory's relative proximity to Australia and New Zealand, English is also spoken in many hotels, restaurants, shops, and across many guided tours.


Flights to New Caledonia

New Caledonia food and drink

New Caledonia food and drink provides an adventure in gastronomy. Tropical island flavours are served with a sophisticated French twist at over 150 restaurants in Noumea. Homegrown ingredients and fresh seafood are front and centre on the menu, making every dish delicious and indulgent. From tropical fruits, to cured meats and the best in gourmet crustaceans, New Caledonia food markets, such as the Port Moselle Market, offer extraordinary local produce. French cosmopolitan cuisine moves effortlessly between the modern and the traditional in New Caledonia restaurants. The finest French wines and sweets are where the European flavour is at its peak. If you’re after something to quench a thirst, try an island-brewed craft beer in one of the many bars on Promenade Roger Laroque.

Shop like a local in one of New Caledonia's fresh food markets. Head to the Port Moselle Market, where the atmosphere is always lively, and the stalls are overflowing with the best fresh produce the South Pacific has to offer. Juicy tropical fruits, vegetables, prawns, oysters, olives, fresh baguettes, and buttery croissants make the perfect ingredients for a picnic on the beach.


New Caledonia bars and nightlife are bubbling with fun. Why not take a sip in a seaside cocktail bar at Anse Vata Baie or Baie des Citrons and soak in the fantastic island sunset? Your choice of two casinos in Noumea means that the night need not be over so soon. If you're a beer-lover, enjoy an island-brewed beer in the ambience of a local pub


New Caledonia restaurants offer French class and refinement in tropical surroundings. Between the a la carte menus and delicious buffet dining, you'll enjoy the best in European-South Pacific fusion. The finest restaurants are usually found at the higher-end hotels of each island. New Caledonia is heaven for seafood lovers, with fresh prawns, crabs, oysters, and a large variety of fish prepared daily by professional chefs.


Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

New Caledonia through your eyes

Where to shop in New Caledonia?

Designer fashion meets tropical island chic – New Caledonia shopping is quite a unique experience. The city of Noumea is your one-stop shop for all things designer and boutique. Along just two streets you’ll find the latest in French fashion: clothes, jewellery, accessories, perfume, and lingerie. Among the designer stores you can also find beautiful local-made jewellery and accessories. Meanwhile, custom accessory shops and markets, such as the Noumea Morning Market, are filled with local creations – these are great places to pick up a one-of-a-kind gift or keepsake. Make sure to make room in your luggage, because you won't be going home empty-handed.

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to New Caledonia?

The best time to travel here is anytime, thanks to the fabulous weather in New Caledonia. The delightful semi-tropical climate means the islands are home to perfectly metered temperatures and lots of sunshine. Every season is ideal for taking a dip in the crystalline waters of the ocean and lagoons, or doing a spot of sunbathing. New Caledonia guarantees blue skies, with only 20 days of overcast and rain on average for the entire calendar year. The territory also enjoys south-easterly breezes, sure to keep you cool and comfortable.

New Caledonia's warmest months are best enjoyed at the beach. The average summer temperature is around 25°C, with humidity sitting around 77 per cent. Summer can also bring infrequent rainfall, with February typically being the hottest and wettest month on the calendar. Summer is also New Caledonia's most popular tourist season, so make sure to book ahead! Appropriate Clothing: Shorts, a t-shirt, and a hat. Don't Forget: An umbrella, just in case.


In New Caledonia, it's summer every day of the year! With the highest temperatures still sitting around 30°C and the lowest at 17°C, New Caledonia provides the perfect escape from the Australian cold snap. The sunshine hours are also at their highest, meaning you've got more daylight to enjoy than any other time of year. Appropriate Clothing: Light summer attire. Don't Forget: Something warmer for those cooler evenings by the ocean.


In autumn, the peak tourist season may be ending, but the weather is absolutely perfect. With the average autumn temperature sitting around 22°C and humidity of 75 per cent, this is a great time of year to visit the South Pacific. With the rain season over, visibility is at its best for diving and snorkelling. Local festivals and markets are in full swing too. Appropriate Clothing: Swimwear. Don't Forget: Leave some room in your luggage for market goodies.


The tropical beauty of New Caledonia is at its stunning peak during spring. The islands become a patchwork of breathtaking pacific flora, turning every beach, garden, and forest into a postcard-perfect sight. The days are warming up again with highs of 35°C, though the nights are even cooler, with lows of 13°C. Make sure to pack for all occasions. Appropriate Clothing: Something light for the daytime, something warm for the night. Don't Forget: Your camera.


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How to get around New Caledonia

Getting around is simple with so many options for New Caledonia transport readily available. With an inexhaustible list of things to see across so many beaches, towns and islands, getting from one spot to another may not always be achievable using one method of transport. Whether you travel by water taxi, coach, hire car, or simply by walking, New Caledonia is well equipped to cater to all your transport needs. New Caledonia is a place of unparalleled beauty, so luckily getting from A to B is never a dull experience.

New Caledonia taxis are largely confined to the capital city of Noumea and the larger surrounding towns on Grand Terre. Taxis on Grand Terre Island are operated by Radio Taxis de Noumea, with the main taxi rank located on Rue Anatole France. Taxis are also available at the international airport, though trips can be quite pricey.


Walking New Caledonia is the best way to soak in your surroundings and experience the rich local culture first-hand. The capital city of Noumea is very pedestrian-friendly, especially around its major shopping and dining precincts. Hiking trails, whether from beach to forest or along stunning mountain ridges, give you a chance to explore regions less travelled.


New Caledonia has two major public bus services: Karuia Bus, servicing the greater Noumea urban area, and RAI, which services the interurban coach routes. Both service approximately 360 stops throughout New Caledonia. Karuia operates along two routes and is specifically designed to cater for visitors. The RAI network consists of 40 long-distance touring coaches, perfect for travelling further afield on the main island.


Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in New Caledonia?

Immaculate white sands and crystal blue waters – New Caledonia beaches are the epitome of perfection. Journey out of the wilderness to discover the most strikingly beautiful stretches of sands in the South Pacific. There’s a reason the native Kanak culture is considered so peaceful and welcoming: island living is an exercise in relaxation. Lounge in the white sands, or take to the water and experience absolute revitalisation. New Caledonia is home to so many beaches, and they’re all waiting for you to discover them. From city-side fun in the sun to deserted coves, find your holiday haven in the South Pacific.

Kuto Bay lies in the breathtaking Isle of Pines, a veritable paradise of the South Pacific. This is the perfect spot to relax in a deckchair or go for a swim while the sun is out. Then, by night, there's a stunning waterfront restaurant where you can enjoy the finest in fresh seafood caught within the bay. Kuto Bay is unspoiled natural beauty at its peak.


Be greeted by the lovely locals of Mare Island on Yejele Beach. The protected sands are home to calm waters and genuine native hospitality. Yejele Beach is also the perfect spot for snorkelling. Just a short swim from the shore, you'll find stunning coral reefs. Back on the shore, enjoy a freshly baked French baguette over a picnic in the shade of tropical trees.


Hang out where the locals do – on Noumea's Kuendu Beach. Located at the furthermost tip of the Nouville Peninsula, Kuendu is an attractive and popular spot. The locals spend most of their weekends here playing in the sands and taking a dip in the clear blue waters. The waves lap charming bungalows and shacks along the lovely cove.


In the capital city of Noumea, Anse Vata Beach offers relaxation on the doorstep of New Caledonia's primary shopping district. Anse Vata is the island's longest beach, most popular with paddle boarders. Sit back on the sand with a book and a drink while you watch yachts and local fishermen sail out past the unobstructed horizon.


Located on the picturesque main Island of Grand Terre, Poe Beach looks like it was lifted from a holiday postcard. Perfect blue and white waves crash against stunning rocky headlands, and the forest gives way to large uninhabited coves. The fragrance of the ocean breeze and pine forests is wonderfully intoxicating. Don't forget your camera!


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New Caledonia Frequently asked questions

When you're packing for a trip to New Caledonia, don't forget the essentials like your passport, visa, phone, chargers, camera, sunblock, some CFP Francs and the correct power adaptor. From there, we recommend packing a towel, plenty of bathing suits, insect repellent, a hat, flip flops, some walking shoes and a great book to enjoy as you relax by the water.


New Caledonia's island archipelago is the perfect place to enjoy idyllic ocean life and a unique mix of European and Melanesian culture. During your stay, experience the French island city of Noumea, go snorkeling and surfing in Bourail and head inland to enjoy river hikes and adventures in Dumbea.


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The best time to dive into postcard-perfect weather and enjoy calm ocean waters in New Caledonia is between September and November. Just keep in mind that everyone loves coming at this time, so those keen to avoid crowds may prefer to visit between February and July. 


Spend your days in New Caledonia hitting the reset button and submitting to life in the slow lane. Nature lovers can live their best life snorkelling, hiking, paddle boarding, diving and enjoying a bevvy of water and land-based activities. Beyond that, foodies will delight at the fusion of French and Melanesian cuisine, while history lovers can explore museums and architecture to learn more about Kanak culture. 


With years of experience under our belts, and a decent tan to show from our time spent relaxing on tropical beaches, the Flight Centre Travel Experts are the perfect people to ask about your holiday package to New Caledonia. From family holidays to adventure trips, cruise stopovers and romantic stays, we can easily curate a New Caledonian holiday package to meet your needs.  


The current requirements for travelling to New Caledonia

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