The East Coast: The new road leads to Hienghene where 120m high black cliffs surround a picturesque lagoon. Further south is Poindimié, the largest city on the east coast. Nearby Touho is surmounted by a 500m high mountain. Numerous churches, forests and beaches make up the varied landscape. At the southernmost point of the coast, Yaté is surrounded by waterfalls, lakes and forests.
With 1150 square kilometers, Lifou is the largest of the three islands, the capital is Chépénétié. The 130 sq km Ouvéa is only in a few places more than 3 or 4 km wide. The lagoon is particularly rich in fish. The population lives almost exclusively in Fayaové.
Located 100km east of New Caledonia, this archipelago offers excellent fishing and diving. The 650 sq km Maré is the southernmost of these islands, most of the population lives in the town of Tadine.
- Top-engineering-schools: Provides detailed population data for major cities of New Caledonia. Also covers geography information including rivers, mountains, lakes, and national borders.
Isle of Pines
White sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and rainforest characterize this beautiful island (70 km southeast of Grande Terre). Remains of 4000 year old settlements have been found here. In the 19th century it served as a convict colony – today only ruins remain of the prison. Numerous beach lodges offer basic accommodation. Day trips from Nouméa to Vao, the largest town Ile des Pins, are popular.
Noumea (Grande Terre)
The capital, Nouméa, overlooks one of the largest protected natural harbors in the world. Minibuses are probably the best way to see the city and suburbs. The bus station in the Baie de la Moselle is the hub of all bus lines. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the Berheim Library and the old colonial buildings should be seen on a stroll through the city. The Aquarium is one of the leading marine research centers in the world. The South Pacific Commission Building exhibits arts and crafts from across the South Seas. Local handicrafts are on display in the New Caledonia Museum. The Botanical Park is located 4 km from the capital, which is home to over 700 animal species.
18 km from Nouméa, on a coral reef, stands the Amedée lighthouse. The lagoon is great for swimming and diving. To the east of the capital, in a beautiful coastal landscape, lies Mont-Doré. On the way to the mountain you pass the Melanesian village of St. Louis.
The Coast (Grande Terre)
The west coast: 170 km from Nouméa, Bourail has numerous caves and rocks carved by the Pacific surf. In the settlement of Koné further north, 2000-year-old earthenware was found. A new road winds around the tip of the island from Koumac. The landscape is made up of small atolls and white sandy beaches bordered by dense rainforest. The giant fern national park Parc des Grandes Fougères extends over the three municipalities of Farino, Sarraméa and Moindou and offers countless plant species worth seeing such as giant ferns, palm trees, conifers and orchids on an area of 4,535 hectares.
Seashell curios, woodcarvings, ceramics, hand-painted fabrics, aloha shirts, tapa fabrics and Polynesian music records. In some duty-free shops you can get a discount if the purchase exceeds 2000 CFP. Shop opening hours: Mon-Fri 07.30-11.00 and 14.00-18.00, Sat 07.30-11.00.
There are numerous nightclubs and the only casino in the South Pacific on Anse Vata Beach. The nightclubs in Nouméa offer European and local entertainment. Cinemas show French language films.
The choice of restaurants and the quality of the food on offer is excellent. Specialties such as Pacific spiny lobster, crab, crab or mangrove oysters, raw fish salads (marinated in lemon juice) and rousette (edible flying fish in red wine sauce) are highly recommended. The national dish is bougna — roast pork, fish or chicken wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on hot stones and under sand.
Most hotels are small and cozy, with prices ranging from moderate to expensive. There are modern hotels in Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons, as well as bungalows in the more remote parts of the main island and on the more distant islands. For more information, contact Union de l’Hôtellerie Touristique de Nouvelle Caledonie (UHTNC), c/o Kuendu Beach Motel, BP 404, NC-Nouméa (tel: 23 40 00) (small and medium-sized hotels), or Association of International Hotel Chains ( ACHI), c/o Le Meridien Hotel, PO Box 1915, NC-Noumea (Tel: 26 50 00).
You should ask the property owner for permission to camp.
Other accommodation options
Outside the capital is a cheap hostel with dormitories and shared facilities. Youth hostel card not absolutely necessary. Information from the Association des Auberges de Jeunesse de Nouvelle Calédonie, 51 bis rue Pasteur Marcel Ariege, PO Box 767, NC-98845 Nouméa. Tel: 27 58 79 (Internet: http://www.hihostels.com/dba/country-NC.fr.htm). Information from Chambre d’Agriculture de Nouvelle Calédonie (Chamber of Agriculture), Antenne de Bourail, BP 847, NC -98870 Bourail. Tel: 44 23 48 (Web: http://www.gouv.nc/).
60% Catholic, 30% Protestant and others.
Social Rules of Conduct
The atmosphere is casual. Casual attire is appropriate, but smarter attire is expected in some restaurants. In the evening, men should wear long trousers in restaurants and clubs. A jacket and tie must be worn in the casino. Tipping is not expected.
Best travel time
Warm, subtropical climate moderated by trade winds. Main rainy season between January and March. Cooler temperatures April to August, warm September to March.
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