Category: Guide

A Traveller’s Guide To New Caledonia

From adventure freaks to history buffs, from those seeking for religious fervor to learning about Kanak culture and traditional diversity –New Caledonia is full of surprises. With a semi-tropical climate and diversified landscapes favoring the growth of the plethora of the flora and fauna –you will definitely seek out the most amazing deals to make the best out of the natural vistas. Know more about the natural scenes of New Caledonia. However, before planning for the itinerary you need to take a few things into consideration such as currency exchange, communication, transportation, accommodation and of course the places to discover.

New Caledonia Transportation

The La Tontouta International Airport is the only airport in New Caledonia, which with a ‘B’ ranking, offers extensive passenger services, great comfort and top-notch infrastructure since its opening in the year 2012. Grande Terre and New Caledonian Islands are well connected with Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia, Osaka and Tokyo in Japan, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Vanuatu and some other regional destinations.

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It is better to rent a car and explore New Caledonia as both Noumea and the airport has a number of rental services providing firms from where you will get cars to travel to Loyalty Islands and beyond. SUVs and trucks are available, but it is better to book in advance.

Karuïa Bus in Greater Noumea and RAI as inter-urban coach services are your local transportation options along with private shuttles which cover 360 stops including the bays, Museum of New Caledonia, Caledonia Maritime Museum, Ouen Toro, Botanical and Wildlife Park, Quai Jules Ferry etc. catamarans are also available to travel by sea to reach Lifou, Mare or Isle of Pines.

What To Keep In Mind While Travelling?

Before your arrival at New Caledonia, keep the essential contacts of airlines, transport companies, tourism offices or your guide, foreign consulates and emergency healthcare centers. Few other things to remember are –

  • Prior booking for visiting local tribal villages or home-cooking venue is necessary. Serving time is 11.30 AM-1 PM for lunch and 7 PM-9 PM for dinner.
  • Food and grocery stores remain open usually from 8AM-7 PM while retail stores remain open from 9 AM-6 PM generally.
  • From Wednesday to Sunday and on holidays, takeaway alcohol is banned
  • Some areas in Noumea accept Dollars and Euros although it is better to take enough Pacific Francs for hassle-free currency transaction. Banks, ATMs and currency exchange offices are there to get currency exchange done.
  • Keep your visa and passport handy as in airports of Australia or Asia will need you to verify your nationality.
  • April, May, September, October and November are the best months to visit New Caledonia for the moderate heat and lesser rainfall –weather remains best for hiking, snorkeling etc.

Thus, being said, you should also be considerate about the local culture and their taboo on naturism as well as their prohibition regarding exploration of certain places. Learning French beforehand will be a great advantage as you will find it hard to communicate with local people as they speak only in their local mother tongue.

What Budget Travellers Should Know About Visiting New Caledonia

No matter whether you are an underwater diving enthusiast or nature explorer, adventure junkie or planning to renew your marital vows on a cruise, for a budget holiday New Caledonia will never fail you. The lagoon of Caledonia being the UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous coral and marine life lurking within will definitely be on your list, so will the Isle Of Pines for the distinct Cook Pines. Apart from being a biodiversity hotspot, Caledonian culture with Kanak community as well as Asian and European inhabitants and migrants from islands of Wallis, Tahiti, Reunion and Futuna make it an ethnic diversity hotspot too.

When you are travelling on a budget, one of the main concerns is booking hotels. Learn more about the best hotels in New Caledonia. Besides, access to healthcare, internet connection, currency exchange centers, eateries will also be your concern.

Let’s check out everything you should know before planning your budget holiday to New Caledonia –

Change Into Local Currency

As Pacific Franc or XPF or CFP is the standard currency in all over New Caledonia, it is better to exchange it with Euros with the fixed rate that is currently 119.3317 XPF for 1 Euro. If you change from other currencies like Sterling or Dollar, there will be applied international exchange rates. Traveler’s cheques are not accepted here but you can get your change from the currency exchange machines set up by the banks like BNC, BCI and BNP. You can either withdraw cash from Bank Of France or other branch ATMs after arrival or from the BCI For-ex office. Although MasterCard, VISA and American Express Card are accepted in the stores, they are not applicable for cash withdrawal from ATMs.

Check The Internet Access Fees

Both mobile and landline or public telephone booths allows you to use the prepaid IZI card which lets you to pay per call. Various retail outlets and OPT branches offer these cards which can be a great save on your budget rather than paying for ISD calls. You can get Liberte Card from the same outlets which will let you access the 3G internet connection –it would cost around 3000 XPF for voice call credits. Various internet packages are available at 1-hour, 4-hours and 24-hours basis, choose yours accordingly.

Cut Down Medical Bills

In order to cut down the additional medical bills, you need to take a few precautions –

  • Carry mosquito repellent spray
  • Avoid cooking any lagoon fish you buy from the market as being affected with ciguatera is common
  • Wear proper water shoes to avoid bites, stings and cuts from sea snakes, corals, shellfish, lionfish and stonefish. It is better to keep safe distance from them while snorkeling.

Consumption And Accommodation Costs

Although the thriving local agricultural and industrial sector shows no n significant inflation in the rates of daily commodities, as most goods are imported, it is better to stick with the fish, shellfish, meat, fuel, Asian food products and the locally grown vegetables and fruits as their prices are cheaper than the major cities.

As for accommodation, living in Noumea or the capital city will cost more than staying in the countryside bush or tribal villages. While the accessibility of general commodities will be better while staying in the main town, living among the tribes will offer you the perfect essence of living in the country.

Spend Wisely On Food And Drink

While travelling to New Caledonia, spending a bit on the artisan French champagnes and wines will never be a wrong choice in your budget travel. Check out Maison Ballande for their collection of Fauchon, Bollinger and Comtesse du Barry which are offered as samples with Lobsters and other delicacies. Golden Caboose, Workshop of Morand and Uncle Jules are some of the prominent chocolate factories you should check out to buy homemade chocolates at cheaper cost. Don’t miss out to Foie Gras or Caviar offered at the local shops or restaurants.

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Additional Guidance On Budget Traveling In New Caledonia

Apart from saving some bucks on food and accommodation while paying with Pacific Francs, you should also consider the following for your budget travelling –

  • For shopping, Noumea is the best option and you can start from Town Center to go easy on your pocket. Once you have got the general idea of the cost of the goods, you can visit the Lemon Bay, Anse Vata Bay and Plaisance Mall to choose the cheapest option

  • In order to avoid paying penalties for violating the tribal laws and decorum, always plan your visit by taking permission from the tribal representative so that you not only get discounts on staying among them or dining with them, but also develop a cordial relationship with them. Also, keep your distance from sacred or prohibited site unless you are granted permission by the tribal authority.

  • Keep your tour simple –you cannot explore all the coasts, islands and main town in one trip. Hence, determine what interests you the most by researching about the places beforehand and plan accordingly.

  • Don’t engage your whole day with activities like swimming, snorkeling, horseback riding etc. If you take up an activity or two in the daytime, leave the night time free so that you can relax and save your fund. If you spend the daytime relaxing on the beaches, the night can be spent exploring the nightclubs, restaurants and other attractions.

  • If you are short on funds, it is better to stay in Loyalty Islands or Isle Of Pines where the accommodation rate is low.

  • Book your buses and rented cars beforehand so that you don’t have to bear the extra cost of booking at rush hours after reaching Noumea.

With all the above discussed topics in mind, you can make your budget holiday memorable with activities, popular attractions and mingling with local inhabitants without burning your pocket. The five regions of New Caledonia have five distinct landscape, lifestyle and biodiversity –travel according to your preference.