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Steve

Travelled to 40 countries / regions

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Visited New Caledonia in December 2017 for 7 days

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Oceania > New Caledonia > Trip Briefs
Updated on Aug 31, 2018 Trip Brief

One week on the beach in New Caledonia

I went to New Caledonia for a week at the end of last year as part of my big Southeast Asia and Australia trip. It only came up because I had a bunch of SPG points to spend and was looking for under-the-radar places with Starwood properties, which I found on the Ile-des-Pins (aka Isle of Pines) in New Caledonia.

My overall thought is that Ile-des-Pins is a fantastic spot for relaxing, with some really beautiful natural spots, but there isn't too much to do other than sitting on the beach and partake in some water activities. Noumea, which is the capital of country, was only so so. It's not a cheap 3rd world country, it's part of France and has a very high standard of living.

User submitted photo of New Caledonia

Ile-des-Pins: looking out to the ocean from Le Meridien


What's in New Caledonia

  • New Caledonia is made up of a big main island where the capital Noumea sits on, and a bunch of tiny islands of which Ile-des-Pins is one
  • Ile-des-Pins was what I went there for. It's a very unique island because it's a hot, tropical island, but with pine trees. It sounds awful but it's really beautiful
  • I really mainly went there to relax on the beach in a not-too-touristy place. In Noumea we walked around in the town a little bit, which doesn't really have a lot of characteristics. On Ile-des-Pins we just chilled on the beach, did some kayaking and paddle boating
  • New Caledonia is definitely a fantastic beach destination to consider because it's not overrun with tourists, but it's not a place packed with many options of activities and experiences


Logistics

  • Noumea is the capital of New Caledonia and where most people fly into (airport code is NOU). Sydney, Australia is probably where most of the flights go to (3 hour flight). There were some flights to New Zealand too
  • We flew to Ile-des-Pins by air from Noumea, which took only 30 minutes
  • In Noumea and Ile-des-Pins, we got to and from the airport with pre-arranged cars provided by my hotels (not free). Other than that we just walked around the beach front area and chilled in bars there
  • In Noumea we stayed at the Hilton La Promenade Residences, which very close to the ocean
  • On Ile-des-Pins we stayed at Le Meridien in one of their bungalows (not over-the-water; they don't have those in any hotel here)
  • We didn't really get around Ile-des-Pins at all. We stayed in the resort most of the time, and I kayaked from the resort to an off-resort point of interest called Piscine Naturelle


Prices

New Caledonia is not a cheap travel destination. It's nowhere as expensive as Hawaii, but it's roughly comparable to cities like Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Berlin, Rome, Barcelona. The prices I can remember:

  • Pre-arranged airport transfer from Noumea airport to Hilton: ~$30USD
  • A night at Hilton in Noumea: $150USD
  • A large pizza in Noumea: $13USD
  • Drinks in Noumea: $4-8USD
  • Le Meridien on Ile-des-Pins was an expensive resort at around $500 per night for the bungalow suite but I used points so didn't pay anything

I don't remember everything else, but this should give you a sense


Language

  • People speak French there as New Caledonia is part of France
  • English proficiency was good. I got around fine with no knowledge of French beyond bonjour and merci


Itinerary

Day 1 - Noumea

  • Arrived from Sydney in the afternoon
  • Didn't really do much, just hung out, walked along the beach, and had pizza for dinner


The waterfront promenade Hilton was on. Not packed with tourist and not that much to do. Just restaurants and bars where and there

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


Day 2-6 - Ile-des-Pins (Isle of Pines)

  • Le Meridien sits on a tiny private island off Ile-des-Pins. It's completely surrounded by shallow ocean, river, lagoon, and forest. You cannot ask for a more relaxing, private setting
  • I mainly read books on the beach, kayaked in the waters surrounding the private island (saw some turtles), paddle boated to some tiny non-inhabited islands with deserted white sand beaches, and did some work


Overview of what I did

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


Jan paddle boating in the shallow water. You can see the pine trees in the background

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


Le Meridien pool and the shallow Oro Bay beyond

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


It rained a bit every day:

User submitted photo of New Caledonia

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


View from the back porch of my bungalow. The river is warm and shallow. Good place for a quick dip in the morning

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


Piscine Naturelle, a 30 minute kayak from Le Meridien. Good place to swim, snorkel (lots of coral and fish), picnic, or sun tan. Like the rest of Ile-des-Pins, not crowded at all

User submitted photo of New Caledonia

User submitted photo of New Caledonia

User submitted photo of New Caledonia

User submitted photo of New Caledonia


Day 7 - Noumea

  • Only stayed the night because we couldn't get a flight from Ile-des-Pins -> Noumea and Noumea -> Sydney on the same day
  • Chilled in the room mostly and watched TV shows