New Caledonia is a true melting pot of cultures and experiences. Originally settled by the Kanak people over 3000 years ago, this stunning island was annexed to France in 1853. French culture has an obvious influence here, however there is still a strong Melanesian presence.
Other cultures have also flocked to New Caledonia, including groups from Asia (Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam) and other island nations (Tahiti, Wallis and Futuna, and Reunion Island). Each of these communities have made their mark on New Caledonia’s society, bringing with them the culinary and artistic delights of their home nations.
Whether it’s the picturesque landscape or the eternal spring weather, there’s something that appeals to all walks of life in New Caledonia. It really is an island that must be experienced by all!
- Capital: Noumea
- International Airport: La Tontouta International Airport
- Language: French (English and Japanese also widely spoken)
- Currency: CFP Franc
Location and Geography
New Caledonia lies in the subregion of Melanesia, just 2 hours east of Brisbane, south of the Equator, and west of Fiji and Vanuatu. It is about half the size of Taiwan, having a land area of 18,575.5kms, and is made up of three main sections—the mainland, Grand Terre; the coral and limestone Loyalty Islands; and several smaller islands scattered throughout the Coral Sea, including the Isle of Pines.
New Caledonia’s geography is one of its main attractions. Named by Captain Cook because of its apparent similarity to Scotland, this French South Pacific region has it all. A stunning blue-green lagoon surrounds the whole island and contains one of the world’s best natural aquariums. Around 60% of New Caledonia’s lagoon is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the country claims a territorial sea zone of 22km from shore and a 370km exclusive fishing zone.
Grand Terre is dominated by an impressive mountain range. A thick forest and grasslands dotted with paperbark trees decorate this range and act as a refuge to a unique ecosystem. The plant and animal life in New Caledonia is rarely seen anywhere else in the world—this group of islands has been one of the few stable areas in the historically volcanic Melanesian region. Hiking paths and natural reserves showcase and preserve New Caledonia’s fascinating geography—mountain ridges look out toward untamed shorelines so, wherever you travel, you can feast your eyes on the best of both worlds!
What to do in New Caledonia
New Caledonia’s impressive, diverse culture and geography means that there is plenty to do during your stay! Take advantage of the stunning lagoon with a range of water sports, feast on a world of culinary delights, explore artistic fairs and cultural festivals, and hike through outstanding natural landscapes. If all that sounds too much, soak up the brilliant tropical sun by the pool at your luxury resort, or play a round of golf!
The seasons, while relatively similar in temperature, do impact when it’s best to travel for each activity. Water temperatures are best for swimming in February. This month, however, is also the wettest month, so it’s probably not a good time to hike if you want to stay dry! Try instead the winter period—head to the hills on foot or on horseback during the cooler months and watch as whales trace their migratory paths! Read more on New Caledonia’s weather here.
If you’re not sure when you want to travel, but you know that good food and a healthy arts scene is important, you can travel all year round! Sample French delicacies, shop in bustling multicultural market places, or visit galleries, inland fairs, and the Tjibaou Cultural Centre to view stunning architectural exhibits inspired by the country’s history! No matter what you want to get out of your holiday, there’s something for you in New Caledonia. Read more about New Caledonia experiences and things to do, or contact a My New Caledonia consultant now!
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