Noumea Travel Guide
Introduction to Noumea
Noumea has a vibe distinctly different from other major centres in the South Pacific. Thanks to its favoured status as an expat hangout and retirement destination, this place has a very westernized feel.
Yet, Noumea (along with much of New Caledonia) remains off-the-radar of most tourists. If you are losing to lose the crowd while keeping many of the modern conveniences which make a holiday great, Noumea is an excellent destination to visit while in Oceania.
Cultural Attractions in Noumea
Shortly after arriving in Noumea, make a trip out to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre. Situated eight kilometres outside of town, this art and cultural centre pays tribute to the indigenous Kanak culture which existed on the islands of New Caledonia before Europeans arrived on the scene.
Mixing modernist styles with traditional Kanak forms, the buildings which comprise this centre are an attraction in and of themselves. Within, you’ll find works made by local artisans, sculptures, a performance space where song and dance are performed on a regular basis. In the open-air courtyard, there are reproductions of traditional Kanak houses, which are composed of a conical thatch roof and a stone base.
Next, learn about the seafaring history of New Caledonia by strolling through the halls of Le Musee Maritime de Nouvelle-Caledonie. From the first contact made by explorers such as James Cook to artifacts recovered from the numerous shipwrecks off its shores, this small space is a treasure trove of history in the middle of Noumea. Even if this sort of place is not usually your thing, this air-conditioned space is a great place to cool off for an hour while you learn something new.
New Caledonia had a central role in the War of the Pacific during the Second World War. If you want to find out what Noumea was like during this period of history, take a tour of the Musée de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale.
Guests are given an audio guide on entry, giving those who speak languages other than French a way to interact with the museum while providing context to the exhibits and artifacts you will see during your time here. Admission is free, so be sure to make time for this attraction.
Other Attractions in Noumea
During your visit to Noumea, you’ll want to take a day trip or two. Make a voyage to Amedee Lighthouse one of them. While it will take up a full day, it will be worth it, as the glass-bottomed boat you will travel in will allow you see the beauty of New Caledonia’s tropical waters as you make your way to your destination.
Upon arrival, you’ll lay eyes on one of the tallest lighthouses in the world at over 180 feet high. Colonial authorities overcame the challenges of building such an ambitious structure by having it constructed back in France.
When it was completed in 1862, it was disassembled piece by piece, and loaded onto an oceangoing ship. Months later, it arrived at Amedee Island, where work crews took almost a year to put it back together.
Operational since 1865, it is still possible to climb, so take the opportunity to do so if you have the chance. Otherwise, you’ll have a great photo op here, and excellent snorkelling grounds in the coral reefs surrounding the island to enjoy.
Ile aux Canards is another great place to go for the day, as it sits atop another reef populated by colourful corals and sea life. Situated five minutes from the mainland, there are sun loungers for rent for when you don’t feel like getting in the water, as well as a restaurant which provides food and drinks. When you do decide to go in the ocean, we recommend reef shoes, as reef rocks sit close to shore, and they can be hard on the feet when stepped upon.
Don’t want to leave Noumea in search of sand and surf? Roll out your towel on Anse Vata Beach. This place is excellent for families, as it is a protected bay. Further out, the winds get high enough on a regular basis that this place has become a hotspot for kite surfers, so if you are looking to link up with local practitioners of the sport, this is the place to go.