The Weekly Getaway: New Caledonia, a French paradise in the South Pacific
Could anything be more perfect than the spirit of the classic French Riviera, but located in the exotic realm of the South Pacific? This unparalleled unity of culture, history, beauty, and tropical serenity makes New Caledonia a dream-come-true for travel enthusiasts who are craving for a destination that blends the best of both worlds.
As the capital city of New Caledonia, this is a must for all first-time visitors to the region, since it is the epitome of that unique blend of European heritage and native roots. Located on Grande Terre, the city has a distinctly international essence, as you’ll be hanging around lots of people from Europe, mingling with the Kanak people, and dining in some of their finest Moroccan, Italian, or French restaurants.
On one end, you’ll stroll among its colonial buildings that resonate with the region’s past, and end up basking in the sun of some of their renowned beaches. The Magenta beach is a known picnic location where the locals love to gather during weekends.
l'Île des Pins
Dubbed the island that is the closest to paradise, people flock here just for the sake of its natural beauty. Located 110 km southeast of the capital, this little oasis is filled with crisp-white beaches, and although not much else, its stunning scenery makes up for the lack of entertainment, so to speak.
Even though you cannot expect to spend your evenings partying away or restaurant-hopping, make sure you try their escargots (snails), which are considered a local specialty. If you plan to spend most of your time in this little cocoon of bliss, then try to time it during their annual fair, which is typically organized in May or June.
- The Heart of Voh – you’ve seen it on people’s wallpaper and postcards all over the world, so take the helicopter ride and enjoy the view in person!
- Aquarium of the Lagoons – if you’re not a huge fan of snorkeling, even though this particular destination might help change your mind, you should definitely head to this aquarium to learn about the local marine life.
- Mwâ Ka – located in the square just across the Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie, this majestic 12-meter totem pole represents the Kanak culture and heritage of the region.
- The Piscine Naturelle – this stunning natural pool is located on l'Île des Pins, and make for a perfect escape of sunbathing, swimming, and relaxation.
- The reefs in Dumbéa Pass – for those who are happy to dive into the hypnotizingly beautiful waves of the ocean, the coral reef on the coast of this town will get you up-close and personal with the local turtles, exotic fish, and manta rays.
- The Sheraton New Caledonia Resort – a perfect pick on the west coast of Grande Terre, where you can enjoy their selection of spa treatments, vast golf courses, and a view of the barrier reef. The accessibility of Sheraton hotel to the people with reduced mobility is definitely a plus!
- Le Méridien Ile des Pins – if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the main island, then this pine-laden paradise is the best way to go, as their bungalows are as dreamy as they can possibly be.
- Hotel Beaurivage – conveniently close to the beach and equally well-connected to the heart of Noumea, an affordable stay that keeps you in the vicinity of all the best amenities on the island.
- Hilton Noumea La Promenade Residences – with a view of the Anse Vata Bay and rooms to match the reputation of the hotel chain, you’ll have access to a variety of restaurants nearby and the main spots in the city are very accessible from the hotel.
- Le Roof – this is an authentic spot with locally-inspired food (this is the perfect choice for those snails), and its overwater location makes it a dreamy pick to view dolphins swimming by.
- O'kafika – located in the Hanawa village, this hidden eatery is ideal for anyone who is on the road to explore the island, and they serve excellent sandwiches.
- Chez Toto – another perfect foodie hotspot in Noumea, this place will take you right back to France with their exquisite menu.
- Le Faré du Palm Beach – another top pick in Noumea, in addition to their signature banana waffles with hot chocolate, you can try a range of cocktails to match the tropical scenery.