New Caledonia Travel Guide – Hidden Gem of the Pacific

Image 1, Isle of Pines, Header imageImage via Flickr

When the life of a working person becomes too complicated, the best thing to do is escape everything and go to the edge of the Earth for a bit of a time-out. There is hardly a better place for this than New Caledonia. This modest archipelago of islands is not as famous as some South Pacific hotspots like Tahiti, Bora Bora, Bali or New Zealand, but it offers just as many delights – if not more, considering that there is so much to discover for the newcomers. If you ever feel a yearning to visit this hidden gem of the Pacific, here is a comprehensive New Caledonia travel guide.

Image 2, Noumea AirportImage via Flickr

The adventure begins on the island of Grande Terre

The hub island of the archipelago is a small wonder in and of itself. Being 400 kilometers long and 60 kilometers wide, it is one of the largest islands in the Pacific and it also boasts a captivating coral reef that is second only to the Great Barrier Reef in size. The island itself is filled with bucolic scenery and amazing stretches of landscape through which you can ride on a rented horse like a true adventurer. However, the first location on Grande Terre you’ll most likely see (and the first location most people see of the entire New Caledonia) is the capital – Noumea.

Image 3, Noumea SunriseImage via Flickr

The irresistible charms of Noumea

Most people reach Noumea via a cruise liner or a plane. The capital of the archipelago might be an administrative and urban center of the region but it is by no means a metropolis. With a population of circa 100,000 people within the city limits, it is no bigger than a prominent suburban area in the Western part of the world. However, this does not mean that it is short on delights. As a matter of fact, Noumea represents an eclectic mix of decidedly French charms and Polynesian allure. Its infrastructure is rich and it offers every service a spoiled vacationer can require as well as incredible Noumea accommodation options that look like something out of a tropical dream.

Image 4, Noumea SunsetImage via Flickr 

Come for the rich history

A newcomer who knows nothing about the history of the region will probably scratch their heads once they are faced with a number of locations that have monikers in French. Before you arrive at the archipelago, you should probably know that most of the islands in this part of the world were colonized at one point or another. The rich history of colonialism and independence and a slew of museums that can teach you about the captivating history of the locals await in Noumea and a wider network of museums.

However, Tjibaou Cultural Centre should be singled out as a truly captivating feature of this archipelago – the iconic architectural marvel most people see on New Caledonia postcards. It is home to some of the most interesting items, tools, art pieces and books about Oceanic cultures, and if you are an avid history buff, the place is a real treasure trove of information that will enlighten you in ways you cannot expect.

Image 5, New Caledonian SculptureImage via Flickr

It’s a tropical playground

If you truly want to learn about the history of New Caledonia, you have to get a grip on the richness and heftiness of this tropical playground and visit other fragments of land that occupy the region. Ile des Pins (or Isle of Pines) is a true natural gem in every meaning of the word, Iles Loyaute (the Loyalty Islands) are the three large and prominently populated islands east of Grande Terre and Chesterfield Islands are a destination for true adventurers – the uninhibited and incredibly remote collection of islands that are located about 480 kilometers west of the main cluster. They are hardly more than a group of beaches, but their captivating appearance is akin to something out of a watercolor dream.

Image 6, Isle of PinesImage via Flickr

New Caledonia is one of those destinations that walk the fine line between tourist prestige and slight anonymity – it is a very popular vacationing spot for sure, but it also retains a sense of mystery and magic when compared to some other overhyped destinations. This is what makes it such a perfect spot for an escapade, and once you visit it for the first time, it is bound to steal your heart and woo you quite effortlessly to promise a quick return.

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