First Timer’s Guide to New Caledonia
I discovered New Caledonia when searching for a perfect honeymoon destination. It was the closest to the image of a perfect tropical paradise I had in my head. It is also heavily influenced by French culture, including cuisine and architecture, so discovering New Caledonia was like Paris, the city of love, only with heavenly beaches and turquoise seas. I could not have imagined a better combination, so that’s where we spent our honeymoon. Naturally, I wanted to make sure we made the best of our experience there, and I’m sharing my tips and insights to help you do the same.
New Caledonia is a dependent overseas French territory in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Australia and Fiji. It consists of the main island called Grande Terre which is the most populated part, four islands called the Loyalty Islands, namely Mare, Tiga, Lifou and Ouvea to the west of the main island, and The Isle of Pines off of the south coast of Grande Terre. These islands are inhabited, but the population is just around a few thousand people. There are also many smaller uninhabited islands.
Visas and Entry Requirements
My husband is an American citizen and I’m from the EU and we were both granted a three month stay without a visa. So, EU, Canadian, US, Australian and NZ citizens are allowed a three month stay, but others, like Japan nationals, are only issued one month visas. You need to make sure your passport is valid for at least three months longer than your intended stay and that you have an onward ticket. It is best to check the latest visa regulations on the government website beforehand.
The currency in New Caledonia is the South Pacific franc marked with the code CPF or XPF, it is not Australian dollar as we initially thought. Some tourist eateries and tourist places do have pricing in AUD but most of them don’t. That is why you are well advised to explore exchange rates before you come to the island since they can be terrible if you convert from AUD to CPF there. Maybe you can take your debit card for cash at an ATM and use your credit card. It is worth looking into, you might save a lot.
The official language spoken is French and neither my husband not I speak any French. We had just assumed English would do, but we were surprised to find out not many people spoke English. We could only use it in our resort, the hotel and nearby facilities, but once we got outside of the capital, we weren’t able to communicate with anyone. This limited our experience for sure, and I wish we’d invested some time and effort into learning basic French and made more contact with the locals. So, my advice is to get at least some French under your belt before you go and bring a simple phrasebook along.
Stay Safe in the Sea
New Caledonia is a safe place and you can pretty much move about freely both during the day and during the night. The only precaution you should take is with the sea. The weather depends on the season, and since these islands are subject to tropical cyclones from November to April, it is best to avoid that time of year. The water is too cool to swim in from April to August when the temperature is around 22C (71F). However, even in the summer, you should be careful and not swim too far out since the ocean’s currents can be strong and drag you in, especially if there are big waves. Another thing to keep in mind are potentially dangerous sea creatures. You can always hang out at the most popular beaches surrounded by restaurant, cafes and hotels, like Anse Vata or Baie de Citrons, which have calm water and white sands. Kuendu Beach is another good option since it is a bay and the waters are tranquil.
Explore Smaller Islands
Grand Terre and the capital Noumea are great and have a metropolitan feel to them, but we wished we had had more time to explore the far reaches of the main island and other smaller islands. We took a cruise trip to the Isle of Pines with New Caledonia travel and simply wanted to stay there forever. It is as pristine and unspoiled as it gets. We then wanted to book some other cruises as well, but we didn’t have enough time. If you can, explore the small islands as well, that is the real taste of paradise.
Try Out Different Accommodations
Since we were on our honeymoon, we of course chose the most luxurious option and stayed at a high-end hotel. However, when we got there, we realized we could have had chosen something cheaper and still have a perfect holiday. There are many accommodation options available for any kind of budget. For example, there are hotels, bungalows, tribal accommodation and camping on offer. Staying with local tribes certainly adds to the experience and you should consider doing this if you are interested in the cultural aspect of your trip. As for the city, Noumea also has a wide range of options starting from hostels for budget travelers to expensive hotels.
New Caledonia is probably the most beautiful place I have even been to and our honeymoon was truly unforgettable. The nature is splendid, the people are friendly and the whole experience is otherworldly. You just need to relax and let this magical place shower you with its beauty.
About The Author: Marie Nieves, student of economics who loves unusual trips and have a plan to travel the whole world. She has always loved to travel, and she loves to talk about her experiences. On her travels she likes to read poetry and prose and loves to surf the Internet. An avid lover of photography and regular author on High Style Life. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and G+.
Photo Souce: Google Commons, Pixabay