Without a doubt, New Caledonia is one of the most popular exotic travel destinations in the world. But that doesn’t mean that its global fame has unveiled every little secret and interesting fact about the breathtaking archipelago. Among the popular tourist hotspots favored by all generations you will find hidden natural gems, exclusive oases, as well as Noumea’s lesser-known spots frequented by the locals.
Yes this is the place to lose yourself in a real Pacific paradise, a land that boasts a distinct mix of Caledonian and French cultural heritage portrayed in the sights, sounds, and tastes around you. Without further ado, let’s explore Noumea New Caledonia, and show you the spots that bring adventure and leisure to life.
Visit the bustling City Market
Let’s begin our journey with a bustling place in Noumea that holds many secrets in its midst – the City Market. At first glance, this might seem like another bustling beehive of stalls, a tourist attraction intended to lure newcomers with shiny trinkets and some spoils of the sea. But the City Market is so much more than that. This is a place where Noumea’s culture comes to life.
The market opens every day at five in the morning, and closes at midnight – except on Mondays. Once there, you will discover a whole new world, a multicultural setting where French and New Caledonian locals offer everything from pastries and French cheeses, to Caledonian fish caught that very morning. Be wary, though, you will need to get there pretty early if you want to get your hands on the best assortment of local fish.
Here, you will also find a local crafts section, and of course, the souvenir section where all tourists flock. Avoid the crowd and make your way to the handcrafts in the back. Look for the locals who have crafted statues and even jewelry with their own hands to support the local culture and the local artists in their work.
Delve Deep into New Caledonian Culture
Speaking of the local culture, there are many places around the mainland and Noumea itself where you can explore and get to know the history of this vibrant nation. One of the best ways is to simply wander around town in search of heritage buildings, museums, and local landmarks that might give you a hint of city’s rich history. Complement your walking tour with an audio guide (like this one), and you will actually have an amazing time away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
One of the best way to learn about New Caledonian culture in Noumea is to visit the Tjibaou Cultural Centre. This little cultural gem is not something you can just run into by following the crowd around town. You will have to venture outside the city center for this one.
Upon reaching the complex, some 15-minutes from downtown Noumea, you will instantly be greeted by the striking appearance of the museum, as well as the gardens that precede it. You won’t even have to venture inside to learn about the indigenous culture, as the landscaped gardens are dotted with totems, huts, and other points of interest.
Visit the Breathtaking Isle of Pines
New Caledonia, much to the surprise of newcomers, is not just about exploring the capital or the mainland – as its true beauty lies in its archipelago. If you want to get off the beaten track and explore everything this little gem of the Pacific has to offer, you will need to venture to its surrounding islands. Concretely, you should visit the breathtaking Isle of Pines.
This is a natural oasis, a pristine setting that exudes peace and serenity, perfect for couples and even families in search of affordable luxury New Caledonia travel deals to take them away from the hustle and bustle of the modern lifestyle. On the Isle of Pines, you will have no choice but to let yourself be swept away by the rustling of the trees, the shimmer of the ocean, and the smell of the sea that permeates the air. This is a place to cleanse your mind, body, and soul. To experience the island in all its glory, be sure to visit the Piscine Naturelle, a serene saltwater oasis on the eastern fringe of the island.
Sample New Caledonian Food
What would a trip to an exotic getaway destination be if it weren’t for the unique culinary delicacies and the traditional cuisine offered at every corner? New Caledonia is a true haven for all foodie travelers, as it offers an interesting mix of seemingly opposing traditions – French and New Caledonian (Melanesian) cuisine. Even though the country is a French colony, its traditions are celebrated and fused with the modern way of life.
This means that you can sample traditional cuisine with distinct French influences. You can also choose to go completely traditional with the Bougna, a Melanesian dish consisting of chicken, fish, or lobster meat combined with yams and sweet potatoes, wrapped in banana leaves. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, go ahead and do what no other tourist will: taste some stewed bat. That’s right, Civet de Rousette is a dish favored by the locals, and it’s literally marinated bat stew. Yum!
Lose Yourself in Downtown Noumea
While everyone else is enjoying the panoramic views from the top of the Cathédrale de Noumea (an architectural landmark you should visit yourself, by the way), why not take a stroll through downtown Noumea and even tackle the street art and graffiti tours. Noumea might not seem like a graffiti town at first glance, but you would be surprised what kind of street art resides within.
The abandoned FOL Theater is the perfect starting point, as it boasts murals and graffiti paintings created by the most prominent talent in the region. After all, these are solicited artworks, not products of a rebellious youth. Continue down the road to St. Joseph’s Cathedral and then towards Coconut Palm Square to witness the beauty of the historic architecture contrast this modern art form.
New Caledonia is one of those exotic destinations that should rank high on your travel bucket list. But before you book all of the popular sightseeing tours, use these insights to delve deeper into the heart and soul of the nation, and discover the intricacies that make this country a fun and adventurous place to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels she likes to read poetry and prose and to surf the Internet. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.