Noumea is the capital and largest city of the French special collectivity of New Caledonia. It lies on a peninsula in the south of the main island of Grande Terre and on a protected deep-water harbour which serves as New Caledonia’s chief port. It is one of Pacific Islands’ most westernised capitals and home to the majority of the European, Polynesian (Wallisians, Futunians, Tahitians), Indonesian, and Vietnamese populations, as well as many Melanesians, Ni-Vanuatu, and Kanaks inhabiting the island. Noumea’s diverse ethnic community, along with its picturesque bays, spectacular beaches, and plenty of scenic spots make it a charming and highly interesting destination.
Note that most of the tourist attractions in Noumea are closed on Mondays (except for the Museum of Caledonia which is closed on Tuesdays) and are open the rest of the week. If you don’t have a definite itinerary yet, a great idea is to have a copy of the "The New Caledonia Weekly," where you can check for the local events and happenings around. Visit the famous Place des Cocotiers, the heart of the city. At the top of the square is the city’s famous landmark, a band rotunda, which dates back to the late 1800s. It’s a great place to relax, stroll, watch concerts, and more. Learn more about Noumea’s history, art, and culture by paying a visit to some of its museums: Musée de la Ville de Nouméa (located in a beautiful old colonial-style town hall; houses temporary and permanent displays on the penitentiary and early settler history of the city) and Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie (a fantastic introduction to traditional Kanak and regional Pacific culture). One of the world’s largest lagoons is found in New Caledonia, which makes it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Enjoy wind surfing in Anse Vata, especially during the afternoons. Rocher a la Voile is a great spot for snorkelling. Explore Noumea’s several islands while on your tour. A climb up Ouen Toro Park at the South of Noumea promises amazing scenic views and spots where you can relax.
How to get around within Noumea
Noumea is served by the Little Train (Le Petit Train), a motorised tour on normal roads. It runs frequently every day although it’s better to check the timetable first. There are eight colour-coded buses that service the city. It’s cheaper to prepay than buy your ticket on board. The bus route includes the "Centre Ville.” Note that most drivers speak only French, so make sure that your French is up to par. The city also offers the "Noumea Explorer" service for tourists, which runs an hourly loop along major tourist sites.
How to get there
There are ways to get in Noumea: by plane or ferry/boat. If you are getting in by plane, there are two airports that serve the city: New Caledonia Airport in Paita (52km northwest of the city) and Noumea-Magenta Airport 4km from the city centre. New Caledonia Airport is currently served by Aircalin, Air New Zealand, and Qantas to and from destinations various Pacific nations (Vanuatu, Fiji, other French possessions), New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, among others. Meanwhile, all domestic flights within New Caledonia operate at Noumea-Magenta Airport from Isle of Pines in the south to Belep Islands in the northern tip of the mainland as well as Koné and Koumac on the west coast and Touho on the east coast. Except for cyclone season, it’s easy for people sailing around the Pacific to go to Noumea. There are also Water Taxis that operate between Anse Vata and nearby small islands.
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