Experience Paradise in New Caledonia: What To Do When You Visit

If you're looking for Paradise, you'll find it scattered 900 miles east of Australia. New Caledonia is a utopia in the middle of the Pacific, packed with millions of things to see and do. Beaches, mountains, lagoons - you can have it all! We've taken it upon ourselves to pick the best island activities so you don't have to (think, less time searching and scrolling, more time living your best island life).

When we say paradise, we mean paradise. In case you need convincing, hit play on the following video:

Best Things to do in New Caledonia


Island hopping

New Caledonia is not just one island. It's a chocolate box selection of islands, with each islet, island or sea stack more delicious than the one that came before.

Day trips in water taxis, high-speed catamarans to far-flung islands, private boats to the smaller, less explored bays... lots of islands basically means lots of island hopping!

And whatever kind of island-hopping adventure you fancy, it's likely to begin on the main island of Grande Terre (home to the biggest airport and ports).

Unmissable islands include: Isle of Pines. Lifou. Maré and Ouvéa (staying overnight will also allow you to fully explore the unique charms of each island).

Tip: You can book your inter-island transport in advance, but we'd recommend doing this once you are on the ground. This way, you'll find more up to date options and also have the chance to speak to locals and get their recommendations.

Water Sports

When the sea looks that good, you can't just sit and stare at it. You need to fasten your bikini straps, hike-up your board shorts, and get ready to dive in and have some fun!

Water sports are a big thing in New Caledonia. Not just on the sea either. New Caledonia is home to some beautiful rivers, lakes and lagoons where you can kayak and canoe to your heart's content.

The gorgeous sea also makes a stunning backdrop to a spot of kite surfing or paddle boarding.

Diving & Snorkelling

Whether you are a beginner or pro - New Caledonia is a dream diving destination.

Did we mention that it's home to the world's largest lagoon? And the second biggest barrier reef in the world? With an abundance of marine life and colourful corals, the underwater world in New Cal is every bit as stunning as the rest of the islands.

You can even dive down to a spooky, sunken shipwreck; La Dieppoise has been at the bottom of the reef since 1988. Or just snorkel in the shallows and play with the turtles. There is enough variety to keep every kind of diver and snorkeller busy.

Hiking

Spending endless days splayed like a starfish on the white sands might be tempting, but you could be missing out...

Inland, New Caledonia has some beautiful hilly and mountainous regions that make incredible scenes for hiking. We're talking, waterfalls, grassy meadows and more. The  landscapes in the archipelagos are truly stunning and these are our top hikes:

  • Pic Malaoui
  • Pic Nga
  • Mont Dore
  • Cap N'Dua
  • Deva Domain
  • Dogny Plateau

Fact: You won't have to be looking over your shoulder for coyotes or bears during your hikes. New Caledonia has no native land mammals.

Bonus: No venomous snakes either 😆

Learn about Kanak culture

The Kanak people are the indigenous people of New Caledonia. They have made the islands their home for centuries and today, they make up about 40% of the population.

You'll find Kanak culture everywhere on the islands - from the food you'll eat to the huge, wooden totem sculptures you'll see dotted about. To learn more, we recommend visiting Tjibaou Cultural Centre on the main island. The Musee de Nouvelle Caledonie is another place that tells the story of New Caledonia and its settlers.

Rent an electric mini moke and explore Noumea

Noumea is the capital of New Caledonia. The built up glitz and glam you'll find here feels miles away from any rugged coastlines or deserted beaches.

If you do want to explore this city, a fun way to get around - or certainly the most instagrammable way - is by hiring a mini electric golf cart and whizzing around Noumea and the surrounding areas.

Eat cheese and sample local cuisine

Cheese isn't the kind of delicacy you might expect to find on a tropical island, but due to its ties with France, it's cheese galore in New Caledonia. There is even a French cheese festival during June!

Speaking of festivals - another unmissable food event is the Avocado Festival where you'll be able to gorge yourself on avocados the size of your head! The lychees in New Caledonia are also known for being particularly sublime.

And if you want to enjoy traditional Kanak cuisine - Bougna is the dish to go for.

Horse riding

For an island-moment you won't easily forget, saddle up and go horse riding!

Imagine galloping down the beach on a trusty steed...The riding options in New Caledonia are endless and you can explore the Caledonian bush or coastline on various horseback trails.

Fact: New Caledonia is home to lots of wild horses as well as domestic ones.

Visit Amédée lighthouse

Located 40 minutes away by boat from Noumea, is a striking white lighthouse that towers above the ocean and is framed by luscious green palm trees.

It's the place to go to get snap happy and take one picture or 50. Pack a picnic and spend a few hours roaming around this stunning spot.

Take to the skies in an ultralight aircraft

You'll be fighting for the window seat as you come into land in New Caledonia; the views from above are breathtaking. So much so that leisurely flights in tiny ultralight aircrafts have become a thing and must-do activity for visitors.

Cruising the skies and flying just metres away from the baby blue waters means you'll be in for the ride of your life!

Where is New Caledonia?

New Caledonia is located in the southwest Pacific. It's a collection of islands, strewn East of Australia (approximately 1500km / 900miles).

When is the best time to visit New Caledonia?

September through till November are the driest months in New Caledonia. Watch out for the months of December - March which are known for heavy rainfall.

Is New Caledonia Expensive?

Get saving guys. New Caledonia might be among the top 20 most expensive places in the world, but guaranteed to be a trip of a lifetime!

Starting from Skratch? Here Are a Few Tips to Get Started:

https://pickvisa.com/blog/things-to-know-before-going-to-new-caledonia

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-16740838

https://www.skratch.world

New Caledonia - Facts before you go

Language

🇳🇨 No official language - French and Kanak are dominant but 30+ Melanesian languages are also spoken

Currency

💵  Pacific franc (CFP)

Time Zones

UTC +11

Tipping

Not customary

Known for

🗿  Kanak culture

🏝  Incredible islands

🤿 The world's largest lagoon

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Amy Drayton
June 23, 2022

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