Surface area : 18575.0 km2
Population : 245580 inhabitants
Other than the traditional sarongs and basketry, you can take home some wooden statuettes, copies of Melanesian masks, black coral jewels and soapstone sculptures and boxes. If you want to see the workers in action, go to Maison des Artisans, situated on James Cook avenue in Nouméa. As for delicacies, why not try the island's coffee or the banana, guava or coconut jams and confectionery. Get also some niaouli tea tree oil, it is typically Caledonian. Shops are open from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 6:00 pm on week days.
The most renown speciality is bougna, a traditional Melanesian meal. It is meat or fish stew, cooked in banana leaves with coconut milk, yam and taro. The tradition is that everything should simmer in a Kanak oven made out of hot stones buried in the ground. It is recommended to taste it with the tribes of Grande Terre and the islands. Other Caledonian delights are wild pig, shark fillet, grilled lobster, freshwater shrimps and venison, presented in the form of steak, paté or sausage! Tropical fruits come in an amazingly wide range: papayas, lychees, mangos, mountain apples and sugar apples. Wash your meals down with the local beer, which is very good, and savour a cup of the local coffee at the end.
When visiting a tribe, do not forget to adhere to the local customs. This means offering a small gift to the tribe chief as a sign of respect. You can take a sarong, cigarettes or even a bank note. You must also respect the prohibition to venture onto some pathways as they lead to sacred places.
Try and arrange for your holiday to coincide with one of the traditional festivals. This will allow you to discover more easily the many faces of the Caledonian culture.
Go on a pirogue cruise on the lagoon of the Isle of Pines, leave at dawn, because it is the time where you are more likely to see turtles and sea birds. Do not miss out on the natural swimming pool of Oro bay, lined with Cook pines, this miniature lagoon is one of the marvels of the Isle of Pines and one of the most beautiful sites of New Caledonia. Go in the evening so as to enjoy the sunset on the bay. It is also the time when you can see the coconut crabs if you keep walking on the path leading to Upi bay.
Located in one of the most beautiful natural settings of New ...