10 best things to do in New Caledonia

Whether you’re planning a holiday or visiting on a cruise, New Caledonia offers stunning attractions and great things to do.

New Caledonia is a popular destination for cruise ships from Australia, with ports of call at Noumea, the Isle of Pines, Lifou and Maré Island. So find some affordable accommodation in New Caledonia with Skyscanner and go snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing or just enjoy some of the world’s best beaches.

1. Climb the lighthouse on Amedee Island
Standing at 56 metres high, the iron Amedee Lighthouse was erected by French engineers in 1862 after being built in Paris. From the top, you get amazing views of the bush and coral sand of the island and out across the emerald green reef lagoon to the ocean beyond. The tiny island is a tropical paradise and is a short trip by boat from Noumea‘s harbour. Don’t taunt the sea snakes that come to bask on the chalky-white sand; they are otherwise harmless. Amedee Island is a popular shore excursion if you are cruising on a cruise ship from Australia.

Amedee Lighthouse, Amedee Island, New Caledonia

Amedee Lighthouse, Amedee Island, New Caledonia
2. Go snorkelling at Grande Terre
Grande Terre is the largest island in New Caledonia and it’s where you will find the capital, Noumea. It’s surrounded by the second biggest reef in the world, after our very own Great Barrier Reef of course. It forms the world’s largest lagoon though. If you don’t fancy getting wet, hang around on a cruise boat with a beer in hand and watch everyone else splash around amongst the brilliant-coloured sea life.

snorkelling in New Caledonia

snorkelling in New Caledonia
3. Swim in a giant natural aquarium
The Piscine Naturelle on the Isle of Pines is a popular cruise ship tour, and no wonder! This natural underwater rock pool wonderland teems with thousands of fish in a kaleidoscope of colours. The giant clams are impressive too.

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
4. Dive right on in
There are hundreds of dive sites around New Caledonia, which accounts for why it has been voted one of the best diving spots in the world. Popular options include the reefs in Dumbéa Pass, the giant underwater stalagmite called the Needle of Prony, and the Rift of Bayes around the Isle of Pines.

Diving in New Caledonia

Diving in New Caledonia
5. Enjoy the local cuisine
Thanks to the culinary influence of France, which claimed the islands in 1853, there are plenty of opportunities to secure a good baguette or a glass of Bordeaux. If you want to be a bit more adventurous though then track down the traditional Melanesian dish called Bougna, a combination of chicken and fish with bananas, yams, sweet potatoes and coconut milk all wrapped in banana leaves. It’s then steamed in an earth oven heated by piping hot stones.

French foods on Noumea, New Caledonia

French foods on Noumea, New Caledonia
6. Set up tent at Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue
Ditch that sun lounger, say goodbye to the burger bars and get back to basics at the Blue River National Park, located two hours by car from Noumea. Look out for the endemic Kagu bird while you’re at it. Nice picnic spots and good hiking trails make it a good option for a day trip too.

Crested gecko, New caledonia

Crested gecko, New caledonia
7. Fall in love with the Heart of Voh
It hardly seems believable that a beautiful tropical swamp in the middle of a mangrove forest could be shaped like a love heart, but it is. You can find this romantic feature on the west coast of the main island, but the only real way to see it is by helicopter. Your pilot will point out dugongs and giant manta rays in the sea below too.

Mangrove swamps, New Caledonia.

Mangrove swamps, New Caledonia.
8. Make things ship shape
Whilst the islands of New Caledonia might be relatively small, the coastline stretches for 2,254 km, and that makes for a lot of exploring. You can join a group or head out on a private charter, but either way bring your snorkelling gear and plenty of sun block.

Sailing, New Caledonia.

Sailing, New Caledonia.
9. Relax! Take the Tchou Tchou Train
This little yellow train with wheels might look like a tourist trap, but there’s no better way to explore Noumea on a hot day – and most days are pretty sticky around here. You explore the town itself and head up to the hills for some photo stops, with some good historical commentary along the way.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Noumea, New Caledonia
10. Just do nothing!
The best thing about this part of the world is that you get to live on “island time”. And that means doing things leisurely. And the best way to laze around? Just head to one of the countless white sand beaches with a book and your swimmers. Bring it on!

Beach in New Caledonia.

Beach in New Caledonia.