I’ve just returned from a busy and exciting week in New Caledonia. I toured the north, the south and the Isle of Pines, but this blog is about the things I discovered in capital city Noumea.
New Caledonia is not your typical fly and flop Pacific Island destination.
It’s a place for the experiential traveller. Perfect for the curious. A wonderland for those of us who love a little culture fix, some fine wine and even better food. It’s French. It’s Melanesian. It’s wealthy thanks to nickel, copper, iron and other minerals. It has the world’s newest and largest UNESCO protected lagoon. And you can get a fresh warm pain au chocolat from the bakery for $1.50!
Here’s a wee taste of what I tasted…
Looking over Anse Vata Beach, Noumea
And in the other direction over Baie de Sainte Marie
The beach of Anse Vata, where most of the hotels are located.
Join in with the locals at petanque pits all along Anse Vata beach
My own personal happy hour at the Hilton with gooey French cheese from the supermarket, duck liver pate, prosciutto, a baguette and a bottle of reserve Bordeaux – all for $28 NZ!
There are loads of little supermarkets in Noumea, but this one, Geant, is HUGE with loads of selections of great French food.
A decent slice of gooey cheese – about $6.
Foie gras from about NZ$8 per 100g
Head to the seafood and produce market from 8am – 11am and buy the day’s fresh catch – including this crab! But 1kg of tuna is only $14. Perfect for sashimi in your hotel!
In the produce section you can buy olives for Africa
Outside the fish market is this craft market selling all sorts of tat – and some handmade souvenirs
This architecturally impressive Tjibaou Cultural Centre tells the kanak story of New Caledonia
One of the hottest restaurants in town is Au P’tit Cafe. It’s way more than a cafe! The chef is world renown and this was my delicious seafood lunch. Book at least 24 hours in advance and expect to pay about NZ$30 for a main.
For a special dinner you must dine at Le Roof! This restaurant over the water offers stunning French fusion cuisine and you can watch all the fish that swim underneath. We had a 4-course degustation, an apperitif and a glass of wine and paid about NZ$100 each.
The restaurants and bars of Baie des Citrons (Bay of Lemons)! All the choices you like from pizza and burgers to posh seafood. Pic Flickr/Christophe Robert Hervouet
Duck Island, or Ile aux Canard, is a 10-minute water taxi ride from Anse Vata. Take a picnic or buy lunch over there. Rent a lounger or take your towel. Rent snorkelling gear and spend the day.
My trip was very generously supported by Aircalin NZ and New Caledonia Tourism NZ. Thanks guys!