For those who love nature, I suggest taking a nice trip to New Caledonia. The French territory boasts its largest lagoon in the world and a 1,500km-long coral reef that feature a unique diversity of species. Find a wide variety of tropical fish, sharks, seabirds, whales and dugongs (or sea cows) among others. Conifers are also common sight on the beaches of New Caledonia, which makes it unique from other beaches in the world.
I collected some tips before you visit New Caledonia. Take a look:
1. The capital is Noumea, which is located on Grande Terre, New Caledonia’s main island. 60% of the population lives in Noumea. Diners will enjoy eating in sophisticated French restaurants while shoppers can find groceries, fruits, vegies, artefacts, snorkelling gears, etc.
2. Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not currently require a visa for a stay as a tourist of up to three months but must hold a passport with six months validity beyond the date of departure from New Caledonia. If you are a non-Australian passport holder, please check your visa requirements with the appropriate Embassy or Consular office.
3. Tipping is always accepted but not required.
4. Head to Geant supermarket in Sainte Marie which offers huge loads of food items.
5. New Caledonia has tropical, hot and humid climate with temperatures above 18°C.
6. Visit the popular late-19th-century stone prison. New Caledonia used to be a penal colony of France. About 22,000 criminals and political prisoners were sent to New Caledonia from 1860s to 1897.
7. The French language is widely spoken though there are about 30 Melanesian dialects spoken throughout the country. You may also notice that almost everyone in New Caledonia speaks French so it would be worthwhile if you learn a little bit of the language before visiting the country.
8. La Tontouta International Airport is the main airport on New Caledonia where most visitors arrive. This is about 30 miles from the capital of Noumea while Aircalin is the international airline of New Caledonia.
9. Food specialties include Bougna, a traditional Kanak dish, coconut crabs all sorts of fruits.
10. The crime rate in New Caledonia is low but petty crimes like pick pocketing and purse-snatching occurs. Always take care of your belongings everywhere you go.