New Caledonia - South Pacific’s Picturesque Palm-Lined Paradise
One of the jewels of South Pacific is the French-speaking nation of New Caledonia. First visited by a British explorer in 1774, it remains to be a breathtaking paradise in the 21st century. Foreign tourists from across the world explore its crystal blue waters and lush forests.
Jane RestureOct 18, 202242 Shares792 Views
New Caledoniain Melanesia, is an oasis in the South Pacific, a land of contrast, splendor and excitement.
Whether you are wanting unspoiled, deserted beaches, the bright lights of nightclubs and casinos or cuisine unlike any you have experienced, you will find it all here.
Venture to the biggest lagoon in the world with its breathtaking coral and marine life. Or hit the shops for designer labels and chick fashions.
In harmony with the Melanesian culture, the French have brought European style and elegance to New Caledonia.
The “French ambience” is described by many as the taste of France in the South Pacific.
On September 4, 1774, Captain James Cook discovered New Caledonia, which he named because the mountains in the Balade area where he anchored reminded him of Scotland.
Eighteen years later French explorer Antoine Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, while searching for the missing navigator La Perouse, stopped at Balade and the Isle of Pines.
The Loyalty Islands were explored in 1827 by Jules Dumont d’Urville, who mapped the archipelago in 1840.
The first settlers here were English missionaries, and in 1843, the French missionaries settled at Balade where, on September 24, 1853, Admiral Auguste Febvrier-Despointes took official possession of New Caledonia by order of Napoleon III.
In 1862, Admiral Charles Guillain became governor and established penal settlement for convicts and political prisoners.
In 1957, New Caledonia became a French Overseas Territory.
The animal life consists of many species, some of which are not found elsewhere.
The Cagou (a flightless bird which is New Caledonia’s symbol), the green pigeon, the Crested Parrot, and the flying fox are in abundance, as well as wild pigs and deer which inhabited the bush and mountains.
The coast is bordered by beaches of golden sands with occasional stretches of mangrove forests.
On the eastern coast are coconut palms and luxuriant vegetation, abundant flowers, numerous streams and waterfalls. On the west, the majestic gum tree savannah and the valleys are coated with dense forests.
There is a sharp contrast in vegetation in the south for it has an abundance of high pine trees known as Cook pines.
In the north, there are vast areas of flat plains. More than three thousand species of plants have been classified, many of which are endemic to the territory.
The eucalyptus is unique to the area and widespread throughout the main island, as are the kaoris, bougainvilleas and banyans.
A long stretch of blue waters running between two islands covered with coconut trees and other foliage
At the center of the city in Noumea, an attractive gardened square surrounded by numerous streets, with interesting shops and one of the highlights of any visit to New Caledonia, is the new Tjibaou Cultural Center.
There is also the Parc Forestier (botanical and zoological garden) and the Noumea Aquarium, world renowned for its tropical fish, fluorescent corals and nautilus.
Discover the markets or lunch in an outdoor cafe.
The long beaches at Baie des Citrons or Anse Vata are great places to relax, and go windsurfing, snorkeling or diving.
Enjoy a game of golf at Tina International 18-hole golf course situated only ten minutes from Anse Vata.
A good way to start your holiday is to take a short city tour by coach or tourist train.
Just a short drive away and in total contrast, you can explore the unspoiled bushlands and other sights, such as the Provincial Park of the Blue River or the Mont Koghi rainforest.
The mainland is divided by the central mountain range creating a tropical east and a dry west. A land of stockman and rodeos, where extensive stock farming is predominant.
This is a surprising province with its Farino market, treks in Mount Koghi, Bourail with its museum, Turtle Bay and the Pierced rock, the beach of Poe and excursions on horse-back organised at La Foa, Boulouparis, Kone and Koumac.
There are fascinating diving tours from Bourail, Nepoui and Malabou.
The east coast is the tropical adventure, with its abundance vegetation, wide rivers, spectacular waterfalls, coconut groves and coffee plantation.
Don’t miss a visit to Hienghene from where some excursions are recommended such as diving tours, kayaking and horse riding.
A range of accommodation is available throughout the territory from serviced apartments and one to five-star hotels/resorts, to rural or tribal lodgings (called “gites”) within a Melanesian village or property, where camping is permitted.
Cuisine plays a vital part in the way of life in New Caledonia.
Where else in the South Pacific but Noumea would you find more than 130 restaurants, serving a variety of styles including French provincial, Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, French traditional, Mexican, Japanese, plus seafood specialties? Only in New Caledonia.
For those who like sports, you can windsurf, scuba dive, snorkel, jet ski, sail and surf. Facilities include an Olympic pool, tennis court, squash clubs, bowling, golf courses and playing fields for rugby, cricket and soccer.