Located in the south-west Pacific Ocean, to the south of Vanuatu and east of Australia, New Caledonia is a French colony governed under the Nouméa Accord. A combination of French flair and Melanesian hospitality, travellers can indulge in French delicatessens in Nouméa, frolic on the white sand beaches and emerald lagoons of Il des Pins or experience the rugged hinterland of Bourail.
Nouméa, New Caledonia
Only a three-hour flight from Sydney, New Caledonia’s capital is in the south of Grande Terre, the main island. Nouméa is known for its beaches and mix of French and native Kanak influences, as well as being the home of the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, which showcases Kanak heritage.
Surrounded by a natural marine reserve and white sand beach is L’Escapade Island Resort Nouméa, the only resort with overwater bungalows in New Caledonia.
The Le Meridien Nouméa Resort & Spa, situated on the beachfront and overlooking the famous Anse Vata Bay, is a chic hotel with tropical gardens, outdoor pool, sauna and tennis court. The Le Meridien recently underwent a A$31million refurbishment of their Nouméa property, which welcomed a new lobby bar named Latitude 22, and a deep nature spa.
The Hilton Nouméa La Promenade Residences features 154 self-catering apartments, with views over the UNESCO World Heritage lagoon, heated swimming pool, La Terrasse restaurant serving Pacific rim cuisine and a glass-walled chapel with panoramic views over Anse Vata Bay. The Hilton Nouméa La Promenade Residences is the first Hilton property to open in New Caledonia.
Restaurant Le 1881 is a beachside restaurant located in the grounds of the former penal settlement dating back to the late 19th century. It is one of Nouméa’s most exciting restaurants with a Sydney-trained mixologist behind the bar and a former Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen. The restaurant serves modern French–Pacific cuisine and has an extensive wine list.
Another highlight is the Chai de l’Hippodrome, a French restaurant located within the grounds of the aforementioned Le Meridien Nouméa Resort & Spa Nouméa. For a coffee fix, travellers can visit the Australian-inspired coffee shop Lemon Bay Café or Néa Bowls, a vegetarian café known for its fresh produce and locally inspired dishes.
Located just 10 minutes away from Nouméa’s city centre in an 80-hectare park is Tina Golf with 72 courses. Otherwise, guests can travel around the island in an eco-friendly manner with Nouméa Beach Car which offers a fleet of 100% electric Mini Moke cars.
About a 45-minute drive south of Nouméa is The Blue River Provincial Park. The park features 9,000 hectares of wilderness, plant life, rivers, swimming sites, waterfalls and freshwater lakes. New Caledonia’s landscape is a haven for naturalists, photographers and adventurers.
L’Île-des-Pins (Isle of Pines)
Renowned for intense blue waters and ancient pine tree groves spread throughout the island, l’Île-des-Pins can be reached by a boat or plane from Nouméa. Guests will be able to enjoy activities ranging from snorkelling, diving, sailing, hiking and forest walks.
Le Meridien Ile des Pins has recently undergone a A$2.8 million soft refurbishment to transform its deluxe rooms, bungalow suites, restaurant, bar and public areas, and has also added a new cardio fitness centre.
Facing the waters of Oro Bay, La Pirogue – Le Meridien Ile des Pins is open for all-day dining offering fresh seafood and French cuisine. Travellers also have the option to experience the Tour of Ilot Brosse with NC Voyages. This water adventure will see you swimming with turtles, encountering manta rays and snorkelling on the reef behind Ilot Brosse, all followed by lunch served on the island.
Sail on a traditional outrigger on Upi Bay’s blue lagoon with Outrigger Canoe Tour and Natural Pool of Oro Bay or opt for the diving option with New Caledonia Voyages for a half-day diving adventure in a natural aquarium with hundreds of tropical fish. There are two types of dives – introduction and exploration.
Visit the colonial town of Bourail, known for the ocean-sculpted rock formation Bonhomme – named for its likeness to a man wearing a hat. This quieter area beckons to explorers with deer farms, museums, waterfalls and nature reserves. It’s also home to Roche Percée beach – the only surfing beach in New Caledonia – where board riders share the waters with a turtle breeding ground.
Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa & Golf Resort features a beachfront location on the west coast of New Caledonia. The 180-room resort has 60 bungalows, an 18-hole golf course, a health club and a spa. There are plenty of ways to get active in the water; diving, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, water skiing, wakeboarding and kite surfing are all on offer. For those who prefer dry land, there’s also tennis, squash, cricket, cycling, and horse riding in the mountains.
Enjoy a mountain-top picnic watching the sunset over the Bouraillais after a picturesque walking tour with Gecko Evasion. Guests of the Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa and Golf Resort can enjoy a cocktail at the hotel’s Creek Bar while delighting in tapas and the various flavours of homemade rum.
The Exclusiv Golf Deva is Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa and Golf Resort very own 18-hole international championship course, which features a 30-box driving range plus a 6,677 metre-long 72 par course. Players have access to multilingual French PGA golf pros, individual and group lessons, family packages for all levels and skills, and multi-duration packages.
Other activities include taking an ultralight flight over the famous Heart of Voh. Guests can also take a helicopter flight over the top of Mount Katépei, enjoying views of the lagoon, reef and surrounding mountain range.
If visiting in August, don’t miss Bourail’s biggest annual event, the Foire de Bourail. This farming and crafts fair features a daredevil rodeo, fair rides, livestock contests and locally made foods.