If I should try to describe New Caledonia in a simple way it would definitely be: France meets paradise. Today, I’ll try to sum up my experience to these 5 things that you simply shouldn’t miss if you ever decide to visit New Caledonia.
Those who see themselves as travellers, such as myself, surely know that meeting people of different cultural backgrounds is one of the most rewarding aspects of any trip. What makes New Caledonia so unique is its perfect blend of the French and Melanesian culture, as New Caledonia has been a French overseas territory from 1946. The best way to truly experience the culture of the Kanak people is to visit one of the authentic, rural villages on the south coast or even decide on a homestay in the Kanak community. There are also various festivals organized by the locals to celebrate the harvest, which is another great opportunity to immerse yourself in the genuine lifestyle of these friendly people.
Being a well-known food lover, and above anything, a wine enthusiast, I was quite excited to try out some of the amazing specialties in New Caledonia. Having been greatly influenced by the French culture, I was absolutely sure that I’ll have no trouble finding some great wines (and boy was I right!) but the thing that surprised me the most is the amazing quality of coffee! Another thing that I would gladly recommend, especially if you wish to try the unique local cuisine, is ‘table d’hotes’, where you get a chance to eat in the homes of the locals that prepare authentic specialties and delicious meals made of venison, fish and seafood.
Fancy a little trip to the heavens? Well, if you’re not afraid of heights I truly recommend taking a helicopter tour to catch a glimpse of New Caledonia from the air. If seeing the world’s largest lagoon in the world isn’t thrilling enough, perhaps the Heart of Voh might be more to your liking. This mangrove swamp which has naturally grown into a shape of a heart has become a symbol of this place and it’s definitely something that you shouldn’t miss for the world!
Located only 20 minutes from the nation’s capital, there lies the Isle of Pines, or commonly called The Jewel of the Pacific. If you’re anything like me and are in constant search for paradise beaches, colourful corals, tropical fish and azure waters which make snorkelling and scuba diving your favourite pastime activities, then the Isle of Pines is your next to go destination. But this island also has some other, equally amazing sights such as the Cimetière des Déportés near Ouro, the ruins of a penal colony and the water tower of Ouro which was built by prisoners.
Lastly, you definitely don’t want to miss amazing Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. It’s like walking around Paris but surrounded with palm trees and white sand beaches. The capital managed to capture the true essence of the two opposing cultures by creating one cosmopolitan, elegant and yet charming and generally unique entity. The Tjibaou Cultural Centre is definitely something you should visit while here, but Amedee’s towering lighthouse and the Aquarium des Lagons are also musts in Noumea.
Growing up in Norway left me with loads of amazing memories and moments, but also with an enormous desire to get closer to the ocean and experience its hidden depths and vast expanses. There are many places I’ve visited in my life that made a lasting impression on me and New Caledonia is definitely one of them.