New Caledonia Museum
The "national" museum of New Caledonia is easily the best museum in the whole South Pacific. Its first floor houses a comprehensive array of traditional Kanak artefacts, complete with whole traditional houses and boats, while the second floor has good collections from the wider South Pacific region.
Not to be missed!
Let the locals entertain you.
Every day when the cruise ships are docked at the cruise terminal, local villagers come to the waterfront (in front of the ship) and perform traditional dances. This proves a master stroke by them as the constant drum beat and chanting draws the crowds to watch. While this is happening the ladies set up stalls and begin to sell drinks and local wares. This is a great experience and will entertain you while disembarking.
A day trip that i truly enjoyed was taking a bus to the lookouts on the hills surrounding Noumea. The give some wonderful views of the port and the city as well as some of the picturesque beaches and small islands that litter the sea near the port. In my opinion it is definately a must.
Noumea..what a dump
"Sorry but once is enough"
I've been to Noumea twice. Once was enough...perhaps once was too much. It should have plenty going for it. Beautiful views, beautiful waters, lovely coastline, french influence, a regular cruise port...so why don't I like it?
When you depart from the ship you head straight into the city centre. The main centre is dirty and run down, full of crumbling concrete buildings. It reminded me of Cuba from what I've seen in photos and on film....but without any of the character. The shopping is expensive and the shop keepers rude. Perhaps the locals are simply over tourists but they make no effort whatsoever to even pretend they are pleased to see you. Funny attitude when they rely so much on the tourist dollar.
Sure there are some moderately interesting tours to go further out but as a port Noumea leaves me uninspired. Shame that every cruise stops here.
"Head for the lookouts"
An hour long bus tour takes you to the back of the island and up to the lookouts. The best thing Noumea has going for it are the views.
Noumea: The Paris of the South Pacific
The capital of New Caledonia is easily the most European, and quite possibly the most beautiful city in the South Pacific. In fact, it feels and looks much more like a typical French city along the Mediterranean than a Melanesian capital - if you come here from another Pacific nation, be prepared for a bit of a culture shock!
Not only is the architecture very French, so is the population. French, many of them recent immigrants, easily make up the majority here, though the visible presence of the native Kanaks, as well as Francophone Asian and Polynesian immigrant communities still give Noumea a bit of a cosmopolitan air. What is conspiciously missing is the usual large number of English-speaking tourists - even on Australian cruise-ship days, the city just seems to absorb them all, and the most visible non-French visitors are actually young Japanese homeymooners!
It is easy to feel a bit out of place here, but then it is very easy to enjoy the city as well.
It is clean, safe and modern, full of fine pieces of architecture and green parks, has beautiful beaches right in town, and the food is brilliant.
As usual with French teritories, it is somewhat expensive, but there are ways to limit the damage, and budget travellers can in fact live more cheaply, and certainly more nicely, in Noumea than in grotty capitals of the region like Honiara or Port Moresby.