Although Anne and I have visited Noumea on several occasions in the past, our most recent visit was courtesy of P&O and the Pacific Sky cruise ship. This was a most enjoyable and hassle free way to travel around the Pacific Islands......except when we ran aground the Isle of Pines and were stranded on a coral Island for 34 hours!!!!!
When considering the cost of airfares, arrival and departure taxes, accommodation, transfers, meals etc etc, a cruise proved the most cost effective, hassle free way to experience all that the South Pacific has to offer.
For a flat fare of 200 XPF, the Noumea city buses are great for getting around.
One covers the main tourist route between the city and Anse Vata, and another will take you out to the Tjibaou Kanak Cultural Centre.
There are others as well, but it's a cheap way to get around. Buses are quite frequent too.
Tontouta international airport is a good 40km or so from Noumea itself, but there are shuttles and buses that meet each flight and pick up passengers for each flight from the hotels.
Fare is 3000 XPF per person. Not cheap, but no real way around it, Noumea is far from a budget destination.
You can just show up and get a seat once you have arrived, but you will need to book a seat to go back out to the airport, your hotel can easily organise this for you.
There's a taxi boat that will take you out to Ile Aux Canards (Duck Island) from Anse Vata beach. The return ride across is 900 XPF, and takes only a few minutes.
Over on Duck Island you can swim, snorkel and generally relax.
Noumea's Tontouta International Airport is 45 kms north of the city.
Of course there are expensive taxis and shuttles to get you between the two, but it is worth knowing that there is also a regular, very fast and comfortable public bus service every hour or so, costing about 400 francs if I remember well.
When walking out of the arrivals hall, you will find the bus stop to the left, right outside the building.
Noumea has plenty of taxis, while buses are the cheaper form of public transport - still not really cheap at 200 francs a ride. More interestingly, there is a little train to get you around the main tourist attractions for a set daily fare of around 1000 francs.
You may have confirmed reservations and tickets, but there is no guarantee you will get to your domestic destination with Air Caledonie. There are frequent strikes by airport personnel (baggage handlers, in particular), and there are strong labour unions in NC. There are stories about tourists who had to stay on nearby islands for a week because of strikes, missing their connecting flights.
Isles des Pins is the most popular destination, and there is a hydrofoil which takes a little over two hour to its destination, leaving at 7am and returning late in the day the same day--three times a week, W,S,S (their email is : email@example.com and www.betico.nc) but they plan to add another one soon so there will have daily transport. Check with the Tourism Information Center (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an update. We had no problem flying to Isle of Pines a couple of years ago, but this past year we came all the way from Atlanta just to visit the Isle, and the closest to it we got was the domestic airport at Noumea where we were informed there was a strike of unknown duration. Good luck if you decide to fly Air Caledonie!
Depending on what your plans are I would suggest hiring a car as even though they have plenty of taxi's, finding one at the right time can prove to be difficult, buses can be even more difficult (especially if you cant speak french). Allthough most of the main attractions arent too far from the city, if you wanted to go out of the city, unless you can speak french or know someone who can, a car would be the easiest option.
When arriving into Noumea, if you haven't pre-arranged your airport transfers... be wary taking a taxi into Noumea from Tontouta International Airport. The airport is located 45 kilometres north of the city.
A cab ride will cost you about $100AUD one way.
A bus ride into the city will cost you 3000CFP or ~ $42 AUD (depending on exchange rate).
To locate the transfer bus .. on arrival to Tontouta International Airport, NC exit the terminal and turn immediately to the right. Follow the path towards the bus parking area. You will see the bus representatives located there. You can purchase a ticket (single or return) on arrival. Buses are always there to meet the arriving flights.
Check out Arc en Ciel for all your travels requirments in Noumea - including airport transfers. http://www.arcenciel-voyages.nc/module/_htm/index.php?lng=en