A little piece of France in the South Pacific, New Caledonia offers the perfect combination of tropical island escape and Gallic sophistication. The main island, Grand Terre, is home to the capital Noumea, a charming seaside city with leafy boulevards, colonial architecture and bijou cafes – and surrounded by the world’s largest enclosed lagoon, meaning you can spend your days frolicking in a natural aquarium. Take a dip at Anse Vata, the island’s most popular beach, the family-friendly Bai des Citrons or the secluded Oro Bay. The Isle of Pines (L’Iles des Pins) is a little piece of paradise just off the southern tip of Grand Terre known for its powdery white beaches and gin clear water.
Who goes there: Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, Ponant, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
Cruisers like: There’s nowhere in the world quite like New Caledonia with its cosmopolitan French flair matched with a laid-back, island vibe. You’ll find the French influence everywhere from the language to the currency, music, fashion and, of course, the food. Visitors to Noumea should include the colonial-style Musee de la Ville de Noumea, the fisherman’s wharf (Le Marché) and the magnificent Tjibaou Cultural Centre on their shore based itinerary. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the cultural centre contains a wealth of Kanak cultural material such as sculptures, paintings and photographs – and hosts performances by dancers and musicians.
Best for: Couples, families with young children, older cruisers, food lovers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.
Getting around: Noumea has a hop on, hop off bus for tourists that departs from the cruise terminal and does a loop around the main points of interest for a flat fee of A$15. The public bus system is also excellent and easy to use, and will take you to beaches outside of the capital.