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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Day In Noumea, New Caledonia

The travel bug has been biting at me lately and I've been reminiscing about my last travel adventure - a week long cruise holiday on the Carnival Legend around the South Pacific Islands.

That holiday was 6 months ago and it's another 6 months until my next holiday (my Honeymoon!) so it makes me happy to write about one of the destination from the cruise - Noumea, New Caledonia.

Many of the cruise ships that visit the South Pacific Islands stop at this popular port stop and if you're one of those passengers or travelling to this part of the world and wondering what to do for a day in Noumea then this blog post is for you!

I've been to Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia 3 times on cruise holidays on board the Pacific Jewel, Voyager of the Seas and Carnival Legend.

What is really unusual about this South Pacific island is it has a French influence so you'll find supermarket shelves stocked with French wine and cheese and the local language and culture are a mixture of French and Melanesian. All while having an island vibe surrounded by beaches and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Noumea really is a unique island and should be experienced and appreciated for it's uniqueness!

For some of these adventures you will need to book a tour and for others take a taxi or the local bus and explore yourself.

On a tour you will hear about the history, culture and knowledge a tour guide offers but you will have to deal with a bus load of people and stick to their time schedule for the day.

If you take a taxi you have freedom to do as you please but unless the taxi driver speaks english you may miss out on the interesting facts about Noumea along your travels.

If you have a day in Noumea, here's what you can do ....

First and foremost Noumea is an island surrounded by the ocean so you can do the usual beach things, head to Lemon Bay and go for a swim at Anse Vata beach, take a boat trip or water taxi to other islands, go fishing, snorkeling, etc.

There's a few fancy hotels dotted around the coast line and the posh area Tuband where you can spend a day by the pool sipping on cocktails and chillaxing.

In the area of Lemon Bay you can climb up to Ouen Toro the canon gun lookout, visit St Joseph's Cathedral Noumea's biggest church or spend a few hours looking at the local marine life at the Aquarium des lagons.

Take a tour through the country side which will give you totally different scenery and was one of my favourite days touring the outskirts of Noumea.

Stop at the natural spring in Mt Dore and admire the views of the island from the Church at La Conception.

It's interesting hearing about the neighboring towns and homes and seeing how the Noumea locals live.

Noumea is a busy business port but as for shopping it's mostly supermarkets, souvenir shops and a few boutique stores here and there.

There is great architecture on the buildings in the old town of Noumea and is worth a walk through.

As for the food, if you are into French cuisine then be sure to head to the Boulangerie Marais bakery for a fresh warm pain au chocolat. Go to the supermarket and pack a picnic with French cheese, meats, baguettes and a mini bottle of French wine and head down to the beach or the park to enjoy your French feast.

If you're looking for tours there's plenty of tour companies based in the Passenger Terminal at the port and all are reasonably priced and payable in Australian dollars or French Francs.

The cruise ship tours can be expensive and when there's other options to pick from it's a perfect opportunity to book with a local tour company. Booking direct with the tour company supports local business which is a great way to give back to the places you travel to.

I have done tours with Regent Tours and Noumea Shore Tours which I booked beforehand via email and paid on arrival. Both companies were well organised, great tour guides and drivers, and value for money.

Of all the adventures I've had in Noumea the best was discovering where the locals spent their day at Parc Forrister a beautiful Botanical Garden and Zoo just 4 kms from the city.

It was such a cheap day out and we saw and did so much. We walked into town and caught a taxi to the park which cost about $15 each way and this allowed us the freedom to walk around at our own pace.

When we were ready to head home the operator at the park entry called a taxi to pick us up. It also meant we could stop at the bakery on the way back for some pastries .... you can't do that on a tour bus!

The entry fees to get into the zoo were minimal just a few dollars. There is a small cafe at the entrance but I'd recommend packing some snacks and drinks, there are so many places to stop and have a picnic.

We could have easily spent a whole day here, it was great to walk around in the sunshine through the lush gardens and check out all the animals and birds. Heaps of peacocks roaming freely and I even saw a flock of flamingos, I was so excited I thought I'd have to trek to the Amazon to see them!

Noumea really is a unique island and should be experienced and appreciated for it's uniqueness!

If I have tempted you to travel to the South Pacific and you are looking for some great travel deals check out these awesome sponsors: Travel FactoryQatar AirwaysEtihad Airways and Covermore Insurance  (note purchases from these affiliate advertisers helps to support this blog) thank you!

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  1. This sounds like a wonderful place, I would love to have a picnic with some wine and cheese... such a beautiful view with the gardens and tropical views. ahhh!

    1. There's some great Islands close to Australia, if you ever come this way you'll need to put aside a few days to chillax on an island like this one :)

  2. Beautiful pictures, you make me want to skip right over Spring and get ready for Summer!

    1. It's definatley a place to visit in summer so you can make the most of the beaches!


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