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Top things to do in New Caledonia

See all 9 things to do in New Caledonia

Things to Do in New Caledonia

New Caledonia is best known for its dazzling beaches and sprawling lagoon, which is home to the New Caledonia Barrier Reef. The archipelago, an overseas territory of France, consists of Grand Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep Archipelago, and the Isle of Pines among other unpopulated islets. Visit New Caledonia for its exquisite range of flora and fauna both on land in the water, as well as its charming cities rich in a multitude of cultures. Filled with an abundance of things to do, see, and eat, New Caledonia is a hidden gem of the South Pacific.

Areas & Neighborhoods

Each of the islands of New Caledonia boasts its own character worth exploring. From the main island of Grand Terre to the reef-bordered and uninhabited Chesterfield Islands, take your time discovering the charms of the beautiful archipelago.

Grande Terre - Referred to as "Le Caillou" by locals, Grande Terre is the largest island in the archipelago and the main island of New Caledonia. The island is surrounded by the enormous New Caledonia Barrier Reef, the second-largest double-barrier coral reef in the world. The lagoon is dotted with scuba diving spots like the Prony Needle and the Shark Pit, which allows you to get up-close to a variety of marine creatures, including sharks, green sea turtles, and endangered dugongs.

Noumea - Noumea is the capital of Grande Terre and New Caledonia. The seaside city is lined with stunning white-sand beaches in Baie des Citrons and Anse Veta, as well as lookout points with amazing views. A mixture of European, Polynesian, and Asian influences gives Noumea a unique culture that can be explored through museums, markets, galleries, and restaurants.

Loyalty Islands - 62 miles (100 km) away from Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands are composed of 6 inhabited islands and several uninhabited islets. The island Lifou is a popular cruise port, with Jinek Bay and Jokin Bay being natural marine reserves ideal for snorkeling and swimming. The people of the Loyalty Islands are of mixed Melanesian and Polynesian ancestry, making the culture of the islands unique from that of Grand Terre.

What to See in New Caledonia

Noumea puts New Caledonia's diverse heritage on display through its colonial architecture. See the style epitomized in structures like Hagen Castle and the Higginson House as well as the Paita Museum, which details the lives of colonial settlers on the island from the 19th century onward. New Caledonia is also lauded for its nickel resources, and you can learn about the mining industry in the Thio Museum and Tiebaghi, a chrome and nickel mining village in the early 20th century.

Things to do, Landmarks & Attractions

The rich nature of New Caledonia is one of its biggest draws, with the New Caledonia Barrier Reef and pristine beaches beckoning visitors to its shores. The central mountain range of Grand Terre boasts an incredible range of biodiversity in its many niches and landforms that create micro-climates, and New Caledonia is home to many bird and plant species that can only be found on its islands. Stop by the Zoological and Botanical Gardens in Noumea to encounter endemic animals like the flightless cagou and red-crowned parakeet. Join a scuba diving tour in the New Caledonia Barrier Reef, or learn about regional marine life with a visit to the Aquarium des Lagons. The islands of the archipelago celebrate their local culture through festivals and events, such as the agricultural and craft fair in Bourail or the local fairs on Lifou or Mare that highlight their indigenous groups. Discover more about the Kanak people—the original inhabitants of New Caledonia—at the Tjibaou Cultural Center, where Kanak art and traditions are on display. Take advantage of the French influence on the islands by indulging in sumptuous cuisine, which blends together the best flavors of the South Pacific with fine French techniques.