New Caledonia is a taste of France in the South Pacific. The main island Grande Terre is where the capital Noumea lies. This city is where Melanesian tradition and French chic combine to create a casual, relaxing, and even cosmopolitan town with good shopping, dining, and cafes. Outside Noumea the culture becomes more Melanesian and the scenery changes to steep mountains, lush valleys, rainforests, waterfalls, and a coastline surrounded in the world's largest lagoon.
South of Grande Terre is the beautiful Isle of Pines (Île des Pins) an island that early explorer James Cook dubbed, “The Jewel of the Pacific”. That title is still true today. With a lagoon, coral gardens, stunning white beaches, palms, and huge needle shaped pine trees, this island is a true tropical paradise.
In the east, the Loyalty Islands including Maré, Lifou, and Ouvea are rich in the native Melanesian culture where the Kanak people have had much less French influence. These islands also have great beaches and diving opportunites.
Top 5 places to visit
Noumeathe capital city has a strong French culture blended with the native Kanak culture. By far the biggest city/town it offers the comforts and services of a city, but also has great landscapes and beaches such as Baie des Citrons.
Amedee Island is just minutes by boat from Noumea. It is a marine reserve located in the biggest lagoon in the world within the New Caledonia barrier reef. The island offers beautiful beaches and crystal clear water.
Isle of Pines is an absolute gem. This stunning island paradise has some of the finest beaches and lagoons you will see anywhere. Visit wide sweeping Kuto Bay and its pure white sand to the coral colours of Kanuméra Bay just around the corner.
Lifou in the Loyalty Islands is a great way to see and experience the Kanak culture first hand, and still enjoy isolated beaches, caves, and trekking amongst the lush vegetation inland.
Bourail is a scenic commune (town) on the main island Grande Terre to the north of Noumea. It has mountains, long sandy beaches, surf, and several rivers.