New Caledonia

New Caledonia Panorama

Cane & Able Travel can organise holiday packages to the South Pacific that include flights, accommodation, transfers and tours. We have the local destination knowledge of New Caledonia, know what is possible for the disabled traveller and we have the most competitive prices as we have negotiated rates directly with the resorts. We are a licensed Australian travel agency and a member of the Travel Compensation Fund.

Bonjour et bienvenue!

Le Meridien New CaledoniaNew Caledonia has a perception of being ‘French and expensive’ and that’s partly true. Around half the population is French (the other half Melanesian) and it can be one of the more expensive Pacific destinations, depending on your own habits. But it is unlike the other destinations because of its infrastructure and sophistication. Think Nice with tropical lagoons for Noumea and there are lots of places with unspoilt beauty.

Another plus is that is so close to Australia and New Zealand (the airfare savings compared to France can allow a bit of a splurge on a few top restaurants or at the casino). Vive la difference!

Apart from the French dimension, NC also has a marvellous mix of Melanesian culture and the magic of the tropics. Most folk speak English but your school French pleasantries are appreciated to break the ice – ‘bonjour’, ‘merci’ ‘au revoir’ etc. And while Noumea might look like a tropical version of the French Riviera, it is very different – yes, there’s the French efficiency, style and elegance but there’s also tropical ‘island time’.

NoumeaUnlike, say, Vanuatu there’s no ‘third world’ feel here (potholes, old trucks blowing diesel fumes etc) – there are sleek motorways, modern vehicles, cosmopolitan shopping and cuisine but, a short explore away from Noumea you find rich Melanesian culture, lush vegetation and unspoilt islands, sandy beaches and lagoons. In fact New Caledonia is surrounded by the world’s largest lagoon.

It’s only 2 hours from Brisbane and 2.5 hours from Auckland and Sydney.  If you are on a budget, consider a self-contained accommodation option so you don’t have to dine out all the time. Supermarket shopping can be fun – and you couldn’t say 50 cents for a freshly baked breadstick or $10 for a six-pack of beer expensive. And, thanks to Melanesian custom, tipping is not expected or encouraged in New Caledonia.

Noumea Cultural Centre (Tjibaou)The climate is pleasantly semi-tropical all year round. In the warm season temperatures range from 25 to 27 and in the cool season 20 to 23. The water is warm year round, too. There are 10 flights a week from Australia and 4 from New Zealand.

The currency is the French Pacific Franc. All major credit cards are accepted and there are ATM’s that accept Australian and NZ debit cards that carry the ‘Plus’ or ‘Cirrus’ logos.

The dress code is a little more upmarket than other Pacific destinations. Shorts, t-shirts and beachwear is fine by day, but think casual elegance in the evenings – this just means no shorts and thongs but light trousers and a collared shirt – you don’t need to pack a tie!

Topless sunbathing is fine on beaches in Noumea (unlike other Pacific destinations) although you should still show modesty when visiting Melanesian villages. Also, if you go to a village, you need permission from the chief or village representative and it is customary to offer a gift (a small amount of money, cigarettes, a souvenir from your own country – but never alcohol).

The electricity outlets are French, so if you take appliances from Australia or New Zealand you will need an adaptor (you can get them at the airport). The tap water is safe to drink and no vaccinations are required (unless you have recently been in an infected country). You should pack sunscreen, insect repellent and a small first aid kit. And, as with any destination, taking out travel insurance is highly recommended (link in the navigation above). Naturally, there are excellent medical facilities in Noumea.

Petanque NoumeaI will be adding some personal observations to the site shortly but available time is short at present as I am away to Vanuatu in a couple of days.  For now, one small story – my son, James was about 12 on our first family trip to NC.  We stayed across from the beach in Anse Vata.  James said the English word for ‘merde’ twice on this trip – the first was when we crossed the road to watch/play petanque with the locals and we also went for a stroll on the beach – walking across the sand I hear, “Shit!” and turn to see James admiring a throng of topless beauties wearing nothing but a thong you could floss with… the second was when we hopped a bus into town on a mission to purchase a nifty little magnet on a rope that the locals use to pick up the boule without bending the back.  We found a sports store and, in entering saw wall-to-wall weaponry – shotguns, high calibre automatic and semi-automatic rifles, pistols and crossbows.  “Shit!” he exclaimed.  I could not but agree.  And they had the little magnet thingy!  The photos right and below are of locals playing petanque – I figured you would know what a topless women looks like.

Noumea Petanque