Located southwest of Vanuatu, New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France which includes the main island of Grand Terre and an atoll of small, sparsely populated islands - including the Loyalty Islands and the Isle of Pines. From 1864 onwards the European and Polynesian population steadily increased until peaking around the nickel boom of 1969. The Noumea Accord was signed in 1998, outlining a 20-year transitional period that will see power transferred to the local government.
- Currency - Cour de Franc Pacifique (CFP)
- Population - approx. 258,000
- Language - the official language of New Caledonia is French, with 33 Melanesian and Polynesian dialects also used throughout the islands.
- Time Zone - UTC+11
Did you know..?
Measuring a vast 24,000 square kilometres, New Caledonia is home to the world’s largest lagoon. It also boasts the world’s second longest barrier reef – an impressive 1,600 kilometres in length – making it a haven for divers.
Who goes there?
Cruise passengers can visit New Caledonia all year round on Princess Cruises, P&O Australia and Carnival Cruise Line Australia. From September through to May, itineraries with the likes of Royal Caribbean, Cunard and Holland American Line are also available.
Best time to go?
Visitors looking to lounge around on the beach should avoid New Caledonia’s cold season between June and August, as water temperatures sit around 21 degrees Celsius and air temperatures hover between a brisk 15 degrees and a more temperate 24 degrees Celsius. Generally speaking, September through to December offers a more comfortable climate.
Conversely, dedicated hikers can find the cooler months more pleasant as during the hot season from November and April, average temperatures rise to between 26 degrees and 30 degrees Celsius. Cyclones are also a frequent occurrence during the warmer months, often skirting the islands from January to March.
Things to See and Do
For many visitors, New Caledonia’s beaches, lagoon and reefs are the star attractions. However, the islands are also home to several other noteworthy sights.
- Noumea Cathedral is a landmark of the city which has stood on its current site since 1890
- Noumea Market in Port Moselle is well known for its delicious local produce and freshly baked delicacies, as well as for being a great place to pick up some authentic souvenirs
- Amedee Lighthouse boasts panoramic views over New Caledonia’s beautiful coral reefs, for those brave enough to climb the all 247 stairs to the top!