|Round-trip from||$1,863||From New York to Noumea|
With beautiful beaches, elegant colonial architecture, safe neighbourhoods, gourmet food and chic boutiques, Nouméa is the jewel of the French Pacific.
The city is the capital of France’s New Caledonia province, and Nouméa has the stately charm of a capital city. It also possesses the kind of cultural attractions that a capital should provide, such as the fascinating anthropology exhibits at the Museum of New Caledonia or the engaging Maritime History Museum.
Visitors can also learn all about indigenous Kanaky culture at sites like the Tjibaou Cultural Center where they can experience traditional round houses as well as sumptuous art works made by the Kanaky people (as well as a main building designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano).
However, Nouméa is a seaside town and most of its attractions revolve around the sea. The peaceful waters of the bay are ideal for wind surfing and with gorgeous coral reefs reaching right up to the shoreline, the snorkeling is also spectacular. Further out to sea, visitors can join diving boats as they explore the reefs. These boats can also transport travelers to the tropical paradise of the Isle des Pins – a stunning retreat from the world with secluded beaches aplenty.
The hills and coast around the city are also ideal for hiking – and walkers of all abilities will find a trail that suits them. The more ambitious can even choose to tackle the 74.5 mile long Grande Randonnée, or they can head out in the saddle with expert riders as well.
Another popular way to see the dazzling New Caledonian coast is by sea kayak, and there are some magical sites to visit by paddle. Head to the world’s largest lagoon, where turtles and rays swim (and can be seen with just a snorkel). Or just relax in one of the world’s great tropical tourist destinations.
There are really two seasons in New Caledonia. Between November and March, the weather in Nouméa will be hot (over 80 degrees Fahrenheit every day), and perfect for spending time on the beach, kayaking or snorkelling. However, the “cold” season is still warm, and outdoor activities like hiking will be blissful. So consider a trip around June or July for the best bargains.
The most fun way to get around Nouméa is by the Little Train, a tourist train which visits the main districts. However, there is a good bus service (check for the white pillars and be prepared to have to speak French). There is also a special bus service which covers the main tourist sites in the region around Nouméa, which provides excellent value.