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Overview

New Caledonia is farther south than the other main South Pacific destinations and is thus noticeably cooler. This old fashioned French colony is also culturally distinct from the other mostly English-speaking countries and territories. The capital Nouméa is almost a little piece of southern France. Yet elsewhere on the main island of Grande Terre and on all the outer islands, Melanesian Kanak life and culture predominates. The Loyalty Islands of Maré, Lifou, and Ouvéa are scenically superb with good snorkeling and scuba diving. The Isle of Pines southeast of Grande Terre also has beautiful beaches and the remains of a 19th ...

New Caledonia is farther south than the other main South Pacific destinations and is thus noticeably cooler. This old fashioned French colony is also culturally distinct from the other mostly English-speaking countries and territories. The capital Nouméa is almost a little piece of southern France. Yet elsewhere on the main island of Grande Terre and on all the outer islands, Melanesian Kanak life and culture predominates. The Loyalty Islands of Maré, Lifou, and Ouvéa are scenically superb with good snorkeling and scuba diving. The Isle of Pines southeast of Grande Terre also has beautiful beaches and the remains of a 19th century French penal colony. Frequent planes and ferries link these islands to Nouméa. It's possible to drive around Grande Terre in a week visiting towns and tribes, rivers and beaches, and ever-changing coastlines. The main island is 250 miles long and 30 miles wide, the largest island in the South Pacific outside Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

David Stanley
About the Expert

David Stanley is the author of the Moon guidebooks Fiji, Tahiti, and South Pacific. He has been writing about the Pacific since 1979.

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David Stanley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in the region of Melanesia in the southwest Pacific.
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Pacific Franc
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    The best months are April to November when it's cooler and drier.