In the islands of Pacific Ocean, one would almost never expect that a mix of French influence and Pacific culture would happen. That is, however, the cultural landscape one will see when visiting New Caledonia, a country of islands lying east of Australia and northwest of New Zealand. The casual yet sophisticated feel of Noumea, the capital, attests to this heritage with its gourmet restaurants, as well as elegant and air-conditioned boutiques.
Those leaving the city will find themselves in a richly varied countryside where one can explore and check out the local wildlife. Travellers out to see nature will be delighted with the beauty of the waterfalls, rainforests, and coastlines which are marvellously undeveloped. Mountains also present plenty of opportunities for hiking, while those interested in marine sights can venture to see the world's largest lagoon. More natural sights can be found in the islands, which make for a thrilling stay in this part of the Pacific.
Where to go
Travellers will find it pleasing to visit Noumea due to its multicultural community. One distinct trace of this particular quality can be attested to the cuisine, where a number of French restaurants vie with the simple eateries of Chinatown. Those out to explore after a delicious, filling meal can start with the La Place des Cocotiers, where one can stroll under the shade of flame trees. From here, the Latin Quarter sits only a distance away, as well as the old districts of the Vallee du Tir and Valle des Colons. These neighbourhoods feature a colonial atmosphere with its old wooden houses, wrought iron furnishings, and flower gardens.
There are also museums and galleries to explore here, such as the Museum of New Caledonia, which holds fine collections of artefacts and Kanak art. There is also the Musee de l'Histoire Maritime to find here, where one can learn about the time of exploration in the region. Other establishments here include the L'aquarium des lagons and the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, which introduce travellers to the local way of life and the marine creatures in the region.
Those exploring the other parts of the islands can venture to the Isle of Pines. Those going here will find a long stretch of beaches shaded by banyan trees and columnar pines. A place one should never miss here includes the area of the Ile des Pins which rises from the lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Loyalty Islands, another attractive nature locale, should also be part of the itinerary due to the blocks of coral reefs and beaches. A local community of the Kanak can also be found here, where tourists can immerse themselves in the culture.
Nadi, more than 2 hours away, makes a pleasing destination after New Caledonia. This capital of Fiji features a variety of attractions starting with Main Street, where one can do some shopping with the latest Hindi or Fijian music playing from the storefronts. The Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple can also be found here, which lets tourists see a great example of Dravidian architecture outside India. Wooden carvings of Hindu deities can be seen here, as well as impressive frescoes on the ceiling. Those looking for adventure, on the other hand, can try scuba diving or snorkelling. Hiking is also highly recommended, while others can check out the local cuisine which features dishes from various nationalities apart from its traditional Fijian delicacies.
Travellers out to go on long-distance flights can visit Tokyo from Noumea. A nine-hour flight or so will let one reach the capital of Japan to view Mt Fuji whose summit is visible from the city. The Tokyo Tower is another popular destination where travellers can look out to view the skyline. There is also Imperial Palace to see where visitors can explore the grounds and other public areas. Those who want to enjoy the nightlife can visit Roppongi, a well-known area for the bars and restaurants. The Science Museum is also a delight with its interactive displays from space development to bikecology, as well as exhibits on the latest scientific advances.
How to get out
Those going out of New Caledonia to visit other destinations can schedule flights at La Tontouta International Airport. Airlines serving here include Air New Zealand, Air Vanuatu, Aircalin, and Qantas which transport passengers to Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Nadi, Osaka-Kansai, Papeete, Port Vila, Sydney, Tokyo-Narita, and Wallis Island.