If your idea of paradise includes remote beaches, tropical landscapes and a vibrant culture (whose doesn't?!) then New Caledonia is the answer to your daydreams.
If "New Caledonia, hunh?" is your immediate thought, that's okay, because New Caledonia is one of Oceania's best kept secrets. This collection of French islands in the South Pacific boasts pristine backdrops that would trump any screensaver. It's the type of place that makes a person want to eschew their routine to play castaway for a lifetime.
If the photos aren’t temptation enough, we have even more reasons you’ll want to escape to New Caledonia.
On any island hideaway, you’re sure to expect ivory coastlines and azure waters, but the landscapes of New Caledonia are more colourful and diverse than you can imagine.
The lush green mangroves that line the west coast of Grande Terre contrast with the bright red earth in the south and the blue hues of the world's largest lagoon. A jaw-dropping mountain range runs the spine of the country’s main island, while the bright marine waters play host to the second largest reef in the world.
Between a verdant forest canopy and coral carpeted depths, there's more to this mysterious Pacific island than what meets the eye.
While beach bums will be content to soak up the sunshine, there is no shortage of adventure for the active traveller. Eating fresh seafood is twice as rewarding after a day of fishing with a local guide. Swap your workout for some stand-up paddle boarding or learn to kite surf. And the list is just as long for adventure on land. Play a round of golf before your sunset horseback ride or plan the ultimate road trip complete with 4x4 trails and camping under the stars.
Not all tropical beach destinations can satisfy the avid foodie but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bland buffet in all of New Caledonia. In addition to pulled-fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, you can count on French-inspired dishes, fresh baguettes, flaky pastries, good coffee and a great selection of wines.
Those looking to explore traditional foods can try bougna, a casserole-style Kanak dish that is wrapped in banana leaf before being cooked in an underground oven. If you fancy a drink to end the day, you can bet you’ll feel even more relaxed after a cup of kava.
timango - Fotolia
This tropical paradise isn't just a pretty face; it has a rich history and several opportunities for travellers to venture into the soul of New Caledonia. The country is best experienced when you immerse yourself in the culture and learn about local traditions of the Kanak inhabitants. Throughout the year, festivals are held to celebrate the harvest with singing, dancing and a guaranteed a good time. Book a table d’hotes for a memorable experience where locals welcome you into their homes, prepare authentic meals and shower you with the genuine hospitality of New Caledonia.
Rare Flora & Fauna
The flora and fauna of New Caledonia are among the most distinctive in the world. Because of the isolation, location and climate of these islands, New Caledonia is home to many unusual plants and animals making it a hotspot destination for nature lovers. Especially popular with birdwatchers, the nature and eco tours offered on the islands allow you to learn about and admire this remarkable diversity. The wildlife is so unique that you’ll find dozens of species of birds, fish and even butterflies in New Caledonia that you won’t see anywhere else in the world.
New Caledonia is in the South Pacific, just east of Australia. International flights land at the Tontouta International Airport near the capital city of Nouméa. Aircalin is New Caledonia's international carrier and Canadians can reach New Caledonia by transiting through Los Angeles.
Have you played castaway on New Caledonia?
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