New Caledonia Overview
New Caledonia is a tropical paradise that offers the traveller a multitude of options to relax, explore, and for the adventurist, engage in outdoor pursuits throughout the year. The area possesses the world’s largest sea lagoon, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The country has a unique mix of French and Melanesian culture.
This French protectorate consists of three main areas. Grande Terre is the five hundred kilometre long main island, home to the bulk of the population, with its capital Noumea in the South. This long thin island has a mountain range that follows its length, separating the east and west coasts, and is surrounded by the world’s second longest barrier reef. The Isle de Pins, a stunning tropical island with pine trees, lies to the south of Grande Terre, and the third area is the Loyalty Islands off the east coast.
The population of 300,000, half of which are located in Noumea, consists of the indigenous Kanak Melanesians, some Polynesians, and those of European French descent.
There are two seasons. The more tropical season is between November and April, where the average daytime temperatures are between 27 and 29 degrees, and the average water temperature 26 degrees. The cooler season between May and October has average daytime temperatures between 23 and 25 degrees, with a water temperature around 22 degrees. The wetter season occurs between December and May, June to December being the driest.
Visitors can also explore the rugged north east coast of Grande Terre which has lush rainforests and waterfalls, and visit the Kanak villages to experience the indigenous cultures of the island.
New Caledonia is relatively cheap to fly to from many destinations and also offers some very affordable accommodation options. However, food and eating out can be a little expensive due to the high import duty on imported foodstuffs.
- The people of New Caledonia are a blend of Kanak, French, Polynesian, Vietnamese and Indonesian culture.
- The Kanak Tjibaou Cultural Centre
- Rodeo shows in the middle of August
- Colonial architecture in Noumea.
- French restaurants
- French bakeries
- Traditional kanak food dish – Bougna
- Noumea Nightlife
- Incredible flat-water windsurfing and kitesurfing
Sailing Locations in New Caledonia
There is really only one sailing location in New Caledonia for windsurfing and kitesurfing and that is Noumea where you will be blessed with some of the finest flat-water blasting conditions in the world as well as long distance cruising to other nearby islands.
The horse-shoe shaped Ansa Varta Bay forms a spectacular lagoon with crystal-clear, turquoise blue water and is blessed with South Easterly trade winds that blow across the lagoon from left to right.
This prevailing wind direction points the sailor in the direction of Duck island, which lies a kilometre away. Three kilometres further on is the island of Ilot de Maitre, a 600m long island surrounded by a vast and shallow lagoon, ideal for long speed runs.
Adjacent to Ansa Varta Bay you will find a choice of hotels within a short walk to the launching areas along the beach and/or you have the choice of sailing to or launching from the small 600m long island of Ilot de Maitre.
Best Sailing Season
Although New Caledonia provides year round sailing, the winds are most consistent between October and April during the summer months, with an average air temperature of 27 to 29 degrees, and a water temperature of 26 degrees.
Types of Sailing
Noumea is all about going fast on flat water. There is no wave sailing in this location so if that is your thing then this is probably not the destination for you.
New Caledonia is ideal for any level of windsurfer and kitesurfer from first-timers through to advanced speed freeks.
Getting to New Caledonia
The gateway to New Caledonia is its International Airport, La Tontouta (NOU), which is located one hours drive (50km) north of the capital city Noumea.
New Caledonia's national airline is Air Calin, which operates direct flights from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
New Caledonia Activities & Culture
In addition to the incredible sailing in New Caledonia, there are some fabulous sightseeing and activities for down-days or for non-sailing family members.
In fact New Caledonia is a magnificent destination to visit for a holiday with or without the sailing element so everyone in your party whether a sailor or not has plenty to do and see.
Some of New Caledonia's top tourist highlights include:
- the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre
- the aquarium featuring a wide variety of tropical fish, a live nautilus & an outdoor turtle pond
- the zoo featuring a botanical garden & a sanctuary with birds, reptiles & small mammals
- the Noumea cathedral
- the Maritime Museum & numerous other museums
- visit tropical rain-forests & waterfalls
- snorkeling at one of the many beaches or nearby islands
Other activities include:
- Scuba diving
- Yacht Sailing
- Bike riding
- General sight seeing
- Wine tasting & craft beer
- Water skiing
- Motor bike
- Wildlife tours
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New Caledonia Travel Tips
To verify the latest visa requirements, check the French government website for New Caledonia: www.nouvelle-caledonie.gouv.fr.
- EU, Canadian, US, Australian and NZ citizens are allowed entry into New Caledonia for three months without a visa.
- Some visitors, including citizens of Japan, are allowed entry for one month without a visa.
- Nationals of other countries not listed above are should contact the French government website listed above.
- Make sure your passport is valid for at least three months longer than your intended stay and that you have an onward ticket.
New Caledonia offers a wide range of efficient medical services in both public and private hospitals, as well as an adequate selection of chemists. Hotels can generally recommend an English speaking doctor or dentist. Health insurance is very much advised.
Vaccinations required for visitors to new Caledonia:
- Malaria – No
- Rabies – No
- Yellow Fever – No (unless arriving from an infected area)
- Hepatitis A – Yes
- Typhoid - Yes
All New Caledonia’s administrative areas have mobile 3G coverage which can be accessed from most phones.
To access mobile Internet services:
Your phone must be unlocked so it will work with any network provider.
You then need to buy a Liberté card from an OPT (Post and Telecommunications Office)branch or an approved retail outlet. You can get a local phone number, and the option of taking out a mobile Internet package.
Hotels provide WiFi which is accessible from the rooms. There is usually no extra charge. Many bars and restaurants now also provide guest Wi-Fi services good enough for you to check messages and emails or download/upload documents.
Electrical device compatibility
In New Caledonia the power sockets are of the two pin type F. A power plug converter will be required to plug in your device if it has a different socket. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Appliances that have voltages ranging from 220V to 240V will be cmpatible.
There is car rental available from Tontouta Airport, as well as various locations in Noumea.
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The official language of new Caledonia is French. However, English is widely spoken as a foreign language. There are also about thirty different indigenous languages spoken amongst the Kanak people.
The best season to visit is the tropical season between October and April, when the temperatures are the warmest, and the trade winds the most consistent.
Transporting gear to/and domestically
Windsurfing and kiting gear can be taken on a number of airlines including Air Calin, Qantas and Air New Zealand to La Tontouta International Airport. From the airport, gear can be put on the shuttle coach to your hotel in Noumea.
Check the airlines to find their latest terms and conditions for the carriage of water sports equipment.
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