New Caledonia

Nouméa is the capital and only city on the main island of New Caledonia, a French territory in the southwest Pacific. The city lies on a peninsula at the island’s southern tip, sandwiched between low hills and a protected deepwater harbour. Founded in 1854 as Nouméa, Nouméa remains dominated by French language and culture. The local economy is based on nickel smelting and tourism.

Nouméa is often referred to as the "Paris of the Pacific" because it possesses a cosmopolitan atmosphere, fine French restaurants, and chic boutiques. Tourists come here to visit the city's many beaches, and to windsurf and sail. Between the two main tourism areas of the town, Ansa Vata Beach and Baie des Citron , a cigar-shaped peninsula juts out into the South Pacific at Nouméa.

Nouméa is located on a protected harbour in the southwestern part of the island of New Caledonia. It is the territory's capital, chief port, and principal administrative and economic centre. Tourism, and the mining and refinement of nickel-ore are both important to the town's economy. The National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts and the Bernheim Library are situated here.

List of Highlights 

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  • The Place des Cocotiers: Shadowed by centenary flame trees, Place des Cocotiers is a very popular gathering place right in the heart of the city. Four different areas have been designed to provide a soothing environment for city dwellers to enjoy. The most ancient area, the "Place Feuillet", has been landscaped around an authentic old time music kiosk, the "Place Courbet" and its monumental "Céleste" fountain, the "Place de la Marne" with its open market and live entertainment and finally the "Olry Square " where sitting at a café terrace overlooking a refreshing ornamental lake is a pleasurable experience
  • TheTjibaou Cultural Centre: Discover the unique architectural embodiment of an age-old identity. Located on the Tina peninsula, in Nouméa, 10 minutes from the town centre, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an unambiguous statement, with its bold, modern style, both elegant and restrained, drawing inspiration from traditional Kanak architecture. Designed by Renzo Piano, one of the outstanding architects of the age (1998 Pritzker Price), the Tjibaou Cultural Centre is an harmonious alliance of traditional and modern.

Explore the Kanak path, the expression of a nation's soul : Like an introduction, the Kanak path leads the way to the Melanesian identity. Along this path, the visitor will be initiated into the strength, the savours and the emotions issuing from a living, ancestral culture, before stepping across the threshold into the house.

Meet Pacific creativity : The Tjibaou Cultural Centre is testimony to the vitality of Pacific cultures. The works of Kanak art presented in the Bwenaado house and the imposing Pacific sculptures conceived for the Jinu house offer the visitor a voyage of discovery through these secular civilizations. The Beretara gallery contains a unique collection of contemporary art from the Pacific region. The multimedia library offers the public a wide range of documentary resources on Kanak and Pacific cultures, representing both tradition and the contemporary viewpoint. Hours : Tuesday - Sunday (10 am - 6 pm). Closed on Monday.

  • The Territorial Museum: Opened in 1971, this museum is dedicated to the archaeology and ethnology of Oceania, a fascinating world. A vigilant guardian of a several thousand years old culture, it invites you to discover the archaeology of New Caledonia, the Kanak arts and traditions. Its halls display a magnificent collection of ancient Melanesian sculptures, totems, funeral masks, as well as many objects depicting all the aspects of this society along the years: pottery, ornaments, jewellery made of jade or shells, Kanak coins, spears, models of outrigger canoes, roof poles, etc. Melanesian huts have been built inside, and there is even an ethno-botanic garden in a patio. Location: On the corner of avenue Maréchal Foch and rue Eugène-Porcheron - City Centre. Hours: From 9 am to 11.30 am and 12.15 pm to 4.30 pm. Every day except Tuesdays and public holidays.

  • The City of Nouméa Museum (former Town Hall): Exhibitions retrace the history of the city and its architectural heritage. Location: In the former Town Hall, facing the Place des Cocotiers, at the corner of avenue Foch & rue Jean-Jaurès. Hours: Mon. to Sat. from 9 am to 4.45 pm. Admission : Free

  • The Maritime History Museum: This museum has been open since 1999. Located in the port’s old passenger terminal, it displays about 40 pieces of wreckage salvaged from the numerous ships which have run aground on the reef. Each piece has been carefully catalogued by the Fortunes de Mer and Salomon Associations.

  • Mount Ouen Toro: At the southern tip of the Noumea peninsula, the Ouen Toro (128 m) offers an outstanding viewpoint over metropolitan Nouméa. The beginning of the track to the top of Ouen Toro is a stone's throw from the Anse Vata beach.

  • The "Michel Corbasson" Zoological et Forest Park: A few minutes from the City Centre, in the heights of Nouméa, the "Michel Corbasson" zoological and forest park offers fantastic walks, with magnificent views over the lagoon and the southern coast of the Mainland. The park features a large number of birds, including the rare endemic Cagou, the emblem of New Caledonia. Access to the park: Departures from Anse-Vata (Palm Beach Shopping Arcade) four times a day by the little tourist train.
    Location: At Montravel. Hours: Every day from 10.15 am to 5.45 pm, except Mondays; its closes at 5 pm between 1st May and 31st August. Admission ends one hour prior to closing.

  • The Aquarium of Nouméa: Founded in 1956 by Dr Catala-Stucki and his wife, the Aquarium is one of the most attractive places in Nouméa. Everything is natural; saltwater, sunlight and a multitude of fish.... In this show-case of the New Caledonian lagoon, you will discover the splendour of the coral reefs and its inhabitants: Napoleons, Angel Fish, Gorgonia, striped fish, Nautilus - living fossils from great depths - and fluorescent corals, like precious gemstones. Not to be missed, the Aquarium is a unique symphony of colours.
    Location: Aquarium Road, near Anse Vata.
    Hours: From 10 am to 4.45 pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday).

  • The Bernheim Library: Due to a generous donation from Lucien Bernheim (a pioneer mine owner), the library opened in 1908. The library is a true witness of the past and has recently been enlarged and restored in the colonial style of the period. It accommodates more than 70,000 volumes, many of which are about New Caledonia and the Pacific Islands. Location: In the heart of the City, at the corner of the rue de la Somme & avenue du Maréchal-Foch - City Centre. Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 1 pm to 5.30 pm; Wednesday from 9 am to 5.30 pm; Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.

  • Saint-Joseph's Cathedral: A Gothic cathedral in the tropics… Constructed in 1887 using convict labour, the cathedral took 10 years to complete. It’s two 25 m square towers are made of local stone and timber. Location: At the top of rue de Verdun - City Centre Services: Sunday: 6 am, 9 am and 6.30 pm; Saturday: 6 am and 3 pm; Weekdays: 6 am and 6 pm.

  • The Local Produce Market: The Nouméa Market is held daily at the Baie de la Moselle in a joyous and colourful atmosphere but is an activity for the early birds. A multitude of fresh fish and shellfish cover the stalls. Local herbs, beautiful flower arrangements and garden vegetables can be found next to luscious tropical fruit which can be eaten on the spot: papayas with yellow or orange flesh, mangoes, custard-apples, pineapples and bananas, green coconuts, passion fruit… Shop in a cheerful atmosphere, with old Melanesians discussing their last fishing trip, children playing, vendors sharing a joke… Location: In Moselle Bay. Hours: From 5 am to 11 am / every day.

  • Moselle bay: Alongside the morning market and the American monument erected in the memory of the American presence in New Caledonia during WWII, is the marina on Moselle Bay, from where sea excursions depart daily including transfers to Amedée lighthouse, Maitre Islet and other paradisiacal islets.

  • Orphelinat bay: Named after Empress Eugénie’s orphans sent to New Caledonia to marry the first European settlers, Orphelinat Bay hosts the monument commemorating the first centenary of French presence in New Caledonia. This impressive anchor was erected in 1953.

  • The Baie des citrons: Lemon Bay is the perfect place for a family day at the beach or a meal in one of its restaurants and cafés.

  • The Anse Vata bay: The main area for sea activities, the Anse Vata bay is also pleasant for a walk along the beach fringed by coconut trees. With numerous hotels, restaurants and night-clubs, you will also find branches of Southern Province and Loyalty Islands Tourist Offices located here.

  • The Henry Milliard horse racing track: Since renovations took place in 1998, New Caledonians enjoy getting together here to share their passion for horse racing.

  • The Amédée Lighthouse: Please refer to chapter "Transport" in  regular service to islets  or to chapter "Sea excursons departing from Nouméa" in "Marine sport activities".

  • The Pierre Vernier walk: Fringed with coconut trees, the walk offers an enjoyable environment for leisure and relaxation alongside St Marie bay. This is a popular meeting point in Nouméa for a family walk or a mountain bike ride with friends. The sailing school, which hosted in 1999 the AOM windsurfing world championship, is located halfway.

  • The Hagen Castle in the heart of the Settlers Valley: Hagen castle is one of the remaining colonial style properties that once belonged to the wealthy settler families. It has been restored by the Southern Province and is now open to public on the occasion of theme exhibitions.

The little train in Nouméa

A different means of transportation to visit the capital. The white motorised train drives along the bays, city centre and up to the Parc Forestier (Botanical Park) five times a day whereas the green Petit Train has circuits with different themes.

"Flora and Fauna" up Ouen Toro, the Aquarium and the Parc Forestier (botanical garden) and the "Cultural" tour goes via the city museum, beautiful colonial houses and the Tjibaou Cultural Centre. A classic circuit takes you across the city and up Ouen Toro to enjoy a glass of champagne on the summit.

For more information on public transport in Noumea, go to: Public Transport