Everybody dreams about going to Hawaii, Tahiti or Bali. However, there is one even more authentic and absolutely gorgeous gem of the Pacific Ocean that waits for you to fall in love with it. New Caledonia is its name and it’s the perfect destination for those that long to visit an island that is unspoiled by hordes of tourists. Your best bet is to fly to New Caledonia from Sydney or Auckland. The trip should not take more than three hours. You will reach the Tontouta International Airport that is less than hour away from Nouméa. Because of its tropical climate, the weather is wonderful throughout the year. However, it is best that you go there between April and November. Once you are there, this is what you can see, do and experience.
Getting Around the Tropical Paris
If there is one place where the French influence is strongest, that is the capital – Nouméa. Boutiques, cafes and its charm make this city resemble Paris in many ways. However, the weather is far nicer and the city is smaller. To understand Nouméa better, start by visiting City of Nouméa Museum and the Maritime History Museum. There, you can learn everything about the history and diversity of this place. Armed with that knowledge, enjoy the Michel Corbasson Zoological and Forest Park that will give you the insight into the wonderful natural wonders around you.
Once the educational part is over, it is time to truly feel the everyday life of people in Nouméa. Head to the local market near rue Clemenceau in the morning. Arts and crafts and busy surrounding will testify about the melting pot of cultures that Nouméa is. Finish your walk at the Waterfront Market and enjoy the French coffee and croissants.
Exploring the Authentic and Genuine Local Culture
Tjibaou Cultural Center is a good place to start learning about the local culture. Inhabitants of New Caledonia call themselves the Kanaks. The population is Melanesian, Polynesian and European. This is a true melting pot of cultures. In the streets of the capital, you will mostly hear the Caledonian version of French and barely any English. Kanaks have a strong tradition and interesting culture and language. Their storytelling tradition is strong and beautiful.
Today, Kanaks speak many French dialects that are unique to this area. Their tribes are ruled by the elders, the yam cultivation is very important and there is no individual ownership. The arts and crafts can be found on the lively markets, but the tribes like their privacy, as well.
Making the Most of Your Time at Loyalty Islands
This is where all of the external influence stops and the true New Caledonia reveals itself. The breathtaking landscapes of the islands Lifou, Mare Ouvea and Tiga are matched only by the authentic culture of the Kanak people that reside here.
Coast of Lifou is dramatic and full of amazing cliffs. This is the island where you will find the remarkable Luengoni Beach, which has a cave with an underground pool. Also, this is where you can stay in a Jokin village bungalow. Ouvéa will steal your heart with its Fayaoue beach, a twenty-five kilometers long stretch of white sand.
Enjoying the Pine Island
The Pine Island is almost always included in all New Caledonia holidays. Once you reach the Pine Island, head directly to the Oro Bay and enjoy its natural pool. Surrounded by tall pine trees, this place is beautiful beyond words. The Pine Island is also where Queen Hortense was said to be hiding during tribal conflicts. You can peek inside the cave that was her hiding place. You would have to hike, climb and dive all day long to explore every aspect of this island. Once the dinner time arrives, try some of the famous snails of the Pine Island.
Besides the natural and cultural treasures, New Caledonia also has some important historical landmarks for you to visit. At the Pine Island you will find the church that commemorates the arrival of the first missionaries. On Ouvéa, you will find a grand memorial to the Kanaks who died for independence. These are just some of the places that mark the rich history of this place.