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New Caledonia is a dependent overseas territory of France lying in the western Pacific Ocean, in the Coral Sea, to the east of Australia and west of Vanuatu. The territory consists of the main island of Grand Terre, the archipelago of the Loyalty Islands (Iles Loyauté), and numerous small, sparsely populated islands and atolls. New Caledonia offers beaches, mountaintop fondue in chalets, camping, amazing snorkeling and diving, and fabulous French food.
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About New Caledonia
Settled by both Britain and France during the first half of the 19th century, the island became a French possession in 1853. It served as a penal colony for four decades after 1864.
The islands have been an overseas territory of France since 1956.
The 1988 Matignon Accords grant substantial autonomy to the islands; formally under French law. Agitation for independence during the 1980s and early 1990s seems to have dissipated. A referendum on independence was to be held in 1998 but eventually cancelled, as the Noumea accord decided ; a new referendum is scheduled for after 2014.
In New Caledonia, as elsewhere in France, the national holiday is Bastille Day (14 July).
New Caledonia has a semi-tropical climate, modified by southeast trade winds. It is often hot and humid in January and February. The islands are subject to tropical cyclones, most frequent from November to March. During winter (April to August) the daytime temperature is around 22 degrees. The water may still be warm, but it often feels too cool to really want to go swimming.
The main island of New Caledonia is one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean and its terrain consist of coastal plains with interior mountains. The highest point is Mont Panie (1,628 m).
Grand Terre is rich in minerals, and is an important source of many ores, mainly nickel and chromium. There is a mountainous interior green with subtropical foliage. The outlying islands are coral-based, and have stunning white sand, and sport palm trees.
- Snorkeling, diving, windsurfing
- Îlot Canard just outside the Anse Vata is a good place for beginners
- Aguille de Prony is an amazing underwater structure in the Prony bay south of Noumea
- relaxing, tanning, and generally doing nothing
- Baie des Citrons and the Anse Vata are common beaches at the Noumea peninsula
- Îlot Maitre has a resort. This can be reached by taxi boat from the Anse Vata, and by boat from the Baie de Mouselle
- Numerous other tourist resorts can be found throughout the Grande Terre and Île des Pins
- eating French and local cuisine
- hiking, camping
- Parc Rivière Bleu in the Yaté region south of Noumea
- Joining a hiking group is generally a good idea, since you then can really enjoy the great scenery without fear of getting lost, or having to stick with conventional tourist spots
- Bougna, a traditional meal among the native Melanesians, which consists of some form of meat, pork, chicken, fruitbat, crab, etc, along with roots such as yams and sweet potatoes. This is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked under hot rocks heated in a fire.
- Coconut crabs
- All fruits seem to taste very good
Buy food from local markets, which are common to almost every town.
Restaurants are expensive. You can eat quite well for about 10EUR at a couple of eateries opposite the library in town. For travellers on a budget, you'll need to observe what the Kanaks do for the best deals.
French food is (obviously) a specialty, but the range of foods available can be a little limited.
Try kava. You can recognize a Kava bar by a red light outside and dim lighting inside. It is about 100CFP compared to 500CFP for a beer, so about a fifth of the price. You drink the Kava immediately once you've purchased it and then go off to a dark bench to relax.
The cartoon series La Brousse en Folie and Le Sentier Des Hommes by Bernard Berger will give you an insight in the local culture and tradition. The comics are written in French, the former imitating the local accent and grammar (or lack thereof)
Other than that, plenty of conventional souvenirs shops may be found throughout Noumea.
New Caledonia is very expensive, since much of the food needs to be imported. There is no culture of bargaining either and attempting such might cause offense.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article New Caledonia on Wikivoyage.
Cities in New Caledonia
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Noumea is the largest city in and capital of New Caledonia, lying on the main island of Grande Terre. One of the most westernized capitals in the Pacific Islands, it features beautiful beaches and colonial mansions and is not yet a heavily touristed destination. Where metropolitan French will hear a bad ... (read more)
- Place des Cocotiers
- Noumea Harbour
- Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center
- Noumea Zoo and Botanical Gardens
- Noumea Cathedral
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Île des Pins is in New Caledonia.
- Kuto Beach
- Kanumera Beach
Points of Interest in New Caledonia
- Tjibaou Cultural Center, a gift from the French Government. The architect was Renzo Piano, an Italian architect.
- Botanical garden
- Wandering along the waterfront in Noumea - Baie des Citrons and Anse Vata.
Place des Cocotiers - Noumea
Kuto Beach - Isle of Pines
Noumea Harbour - Noumea
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center - Noumea
Kanumera Beach - Isle of Pines
Noumea Zoo and Botanical Gardens - Noumea