Noumea, New Caledonia | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
No votes yet

Noumea, New Caledonia

Noumea is the largest city in and capital of New Caledonia, lying on the main island of Grande Terre. One of the most westernized capitals in the Pacific Islands, it features beautiful beaches and colonial mansions and is not yet a heavily touristed destination. Where metropolitan French will hear a bad French accent, wince and say that they speak English, the Francophones of New Caledonia are either less willing or less able to accommodate Anglophones. It is probably a matter of capability since they are marvelously willing to persevere in determining what it is that a foreigner needs. Without tourist-level French, you may find yourself lost--but it's a lovely place to be lost! The French spoken by Caledonians is much harder to understand than the French of people in Paris: on a par with Quebec French (or think of the challenge offered by broad Scots or Yorkshire for a native English-speaker).


The... Read more

Noumea, New Caledonia


Noumea is the largest city in and capital of New Caledonia, lying on the main island of Grande Terre. One of the most westernized capitals in the Pacific Islands, it features beautiful beaches and colonial mansions and is not yet a heavily touristed destination. Where metropolitan French will hear a bad French accent, wince and say that they speak English, the Francophones of New Caledonia are either less willing or less able to accommodate Anglophones. It is probably a matter of capability since they are marvelously willing to persevere in determining what it is that a foreigner needs. Without tourist-level French, you may find yourself lost--but it's a lovely place to be lost! The French spoken by Caledonians is much harder to understand than the French of people in Paris: on a par with Quebec French (or think of the challenge offered by broad Scots or Yorkshire for a native English-speaker).


The first European to establish a settlement in the vicinity was British trader James Paddon in 1851. Anxious to assert control of the island, the French established a settlement nearby three years later in 1854, moving from Balade in the north of the island. This settlement was initially called Port-de-France and was renamed Nouméa in 1866. The area served first as a penal colony, later as a center for the exportation of the nickel and gold that was mined nearby.

From 1904 to 1940 Nouméa was linked to Dumbéa and Païta by the Nouméa-Païta railway, the only railway line that ever existed in New Caledonia.

During World War II, Nouméa served as the headquarters of the United States military in the South Pacific. The five-sided U.S. military headquarters complex was adopted after the war as the base for a new regional intergovernmental development organization: the South Pacific Commission, later known as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

The city maintains much of New Caledonia's unique mix of French and old Melanesian culture. Even today the US wartime military influence lingers, both with the warmth that many New Caledonian people feel towards the United States after experiencing the relative friendliness of American soldiers and also with the names of several of the quarters in Nouméa. Districts such as "Receiving" and "Robinson", or even "Motor Pool", strike the anglophone ear strangely, until the historical context becomes clear.


The city is situated on an irregular, hilly peninsula near the southeast end of New Caledonia, which is in the south-west Pacific Ocean.


Nouméa features a tropical wet and dry climate with hot summers and warm winters. Temperatures are warmer in the months of January, February and March with average highs hovering around 30 degrees Celsius and cooler during the months of July and August where average high temperatures are around 23 degrees Celsius. The capital’s dry season months are September and October. The rest of the year is noticeably wetter. Nouméa on average receives roughly 1,100 mm (43 in) of precipitation annually.

Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Noumea, New Caledonia: Port Information

Cruise ships dock at the center of the town. Everything is within walking distance.
Sometimes, cruise liners dock at the commercial port (1 km away). Shuttle service is provided.

Get around Noumea, New Caledonia

The Little Train (Le Petit Train) is a motorized tour on normal roads, that runs several times a day. It is an area tour, but you can also hop off one train, and catch the following service. Check the timetable, though, because it may be canceled or only offer two services on a given day.

The city is also serviced by several bus routes. Others have recommended this only if you feel your French is up to scratch, as the bus drivers very rarely understand anything but French. It is sufficient to know that the bus goes to "Centre Ville", then hand over the money and state the number of tickets required (une personne, deux personnes, trois personnes, etc.). The big catch is working out where the buses start, as different lines leave from different places. The majority of buses go from near the ticket office in Place de la Marne, where Rue d'Austerlitz passes through the Place des Cocotiers. Other lines depart from a rough piece of ground near the corner of rue Clemenceau and rue de la Somme, within sight of the Municipal Markets and the cinema and a couple of blocks south of Place des Cocotiers.

You can buy a number of tickets in advance at the office on rue d'Austerlitz (it's more of a booth, actually) but you need to validate the appropriate number of tickets for the trip when you board the bus (that includes the ones you buy from the driver). Validation just means inserting them in a machine that will stamp them with a time and a date, but this is nowhere explained. The city bus line is called Karuiabus.

The first trick is to recognize a bus stop when you see one. These are white-ish pillars, usually with a name on them, sometimes with shelter from sun or rain, but usually with no indication of the line(s) that stop there.

Also available for tourists is a "Noumea Explorer" service that runs an hourly loop pass the major tourist sites (Museums, Parc Forestier and Zoo, Tjibaou and hotels) hourly. That is a great idea to be used to explore each of the sites for an hour before catching the bus onto the next location when it comes past again. The service takes a little over an hour, the stops are hard to locate at the start, and you need both a map that shows the stops and also a leaflet from a tourist office that gives the timetable.

What to see in Noumea, New Caledonia

Most of the tourist attractions in Noumea are closed on Mondays and open all other days. With the exception of the Museum of Caledonia that is closed on Tuesdays. 

Another good idea is to grab the Free English publication "The New Caledonia Weekly" and check in it for local events and ideas. The best map was the "New Caledonia Visitor map" found in many places. This is an A1 sheet that can be a challenge in high winds, but at least it shows you where the "Noumea Explorer" stops are.

  • Museum of New Caledonia (MuséeMusée de Nouvelle-Calédonie), 43, Avenue du Maréchal Foch, Quartier Latin, ☎ +687 272342, fax: +687 284143, e-mail: W-M 09:00-11:30, 12:15-16:30. The former territorial museum displays a large variety of tribal art and cultural items, such as weapons, spears, traditional clothing, decorations, and full-size boat and hut structures. The ground floor focuses on Kanak items from New Caledonia, while upstairs there is a cultural heritage from across the region, including countries like Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. Some English information is available. 
  • City of Nouméa Museum (MuséeMusée de la Ville de Nouméa), 39, rue Jean Jaurès, Centre-Ville (Opposite Place des Cocotiers), ☎ +687 262805, fax: +687 276062, e-mail: M-F 09:00-17:00, S 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00. The museum is located in the city's first bank, constructed in 1874, a few years later which would become the town hall for nearly a century following the bank's failure. Documents the history of the city and the surrounding region, including the convict era, municipal projects under Governor Feuillet, the nickel trade, the city's role in World War II and more recent times. A lot of the info is in English, and a free audio guide is available to explain most of the exhibits. 
  • Tjibaou Cultural Centre the iconic large modern wooden round houses, that you see on most postcards of New Caledonia, are located a little way out of Noumea (but accessible by buses - Noumea Explorer or Ligne 40 public bus) past the Magenta Domestic Airport. It houses a lot of contemporary Melanesian and other Oceanic cultures artwork, as well as some traditional pieces. Also if you visit at the right time, there are regular performances of traditional dances and music here, as well as the resource libraries focusing on Oceanic cultures. There is a cafeteria manned by a character with severely limited skills of addition, so make sure you know what you should be paying. The shop has some exquisitely designed souvenirs which aren't cheap, but which are still worth it. Make sure you leave some time to walk around outside the building. The architect was Renzo Piano, and you need to look closely at the way he has captured the spirit of the Auracaria pines. The center commemorates a leader of the Kanak independence movement, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, a former priest who significantly was a student in Paris in 1968. Tjibaou was murdered by another Kanak who regarded Tjibaou's signing of the Matignon Accords as a betrayal. 
  • Maritime History Museum on the Baie de la Moselle waterfront (11 avenue James Cook), this little museum is packed with maritime artifacts, like a humongous rudder, lighthouse lamp, and models of New Caledonian ships. It also regularly hosts temporary exhibits like one on the first convict ship to arrive in New Caledonia. 
  • Parc Zoologique et Forestier (Zoological and Forest Park), Rue Teyssandier de Laubarède (Bus line 12 (Ligne Culturelle) operates on weekends with 4 daily departures, also Petit Train or Nouméa Explorer), ☎ +687 278951, fax: +687 278950, e-mail: Tu–Su, 10:15–17:00 from May–Aug, 10:15-17:45 from Sep–Apr. A large botanical garden set on one of the peaks overlooking the city. Home to a number of native and foreign animal species, including mostly birds, monkeys, flying foxes, and a small animal farm. There are also some interesting forest walks, with over 125 flora species having been recorded in the park. 
  • Aquarium des Lagons between Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons (61 Promenade Roger Laroque), the Aquarium has a great collection of Nautilus, as well as lots of information about the local marine life of the island. Every day from 10:00 to 17:00, except Mondays when it's closed. Last admissions at 16:00.

What to do in Noumea, New Caledonia

New Caledonia is home to one of the largest lagoons in the world. So naturally, water sports are very popular.

  • Wind Surfing Anse Vata during the afternoons is very popular with Kite and Wind Surfers. There are a few hire companies on the beach that are very friendly and have a wide range of equipment.
  • Snorkeling it is highly suggested to snorkel while in Noumea. The water off Rocher a la Voile around and into Baie des Citrons has coral literally meters from the shoreline, making it very easy to see the coral and fish that inhabit there.

Baie des Citrons is also very protected from wind, making it even more enjoyable for the novice. But also if you are prepared to pay for a water taxi ride, Ile aux Canards just off Anse Vata (maybe half a kilometer away) has a snorkeling track in a marine park that has even better coral to see. The visibility can be poor after rough weather, and the charges for almost everything are appallingly heavy. You get there by water taxi from the lower level of the faré ("native hut") half-way along the Plage Loisirs or Anse Vata beach. Sharks are very rarely seen though. You can rent a mask, fins, and snorkel.

  • Island hopping/visiting there are also many tour operators who will take you to an island to sunbathe, swim and explore — like the Light House tours available from most tourist operators on Anse Vata, or via the hotels.
  • Scuba diving There are a few dive companies who offer dive courses, and day dives on the reef. Abyss Plongée has a couple of boats and are based in Marina Port du Sud and offers a morning of 2 dives on the reef. Amedee Diving Club is based on Amédée Island, with dives from the reef there. 
  • Walking The climb up Ouen Toro Park at the South of Noumea (the hill near most of the big hotels) is a great way to spend a few hours. There are many paths through the hill that are signed (though sometimes poorly due to vandalism) and many places to stop, rest and take in the views. At the top of the 128m summit is a military base (that can not be visited) and an old battery that has BBQ facilities.

The quickest way up from the area near Anse Vata is to walk along rue g. Laroque, but if you reach the pharmacy and the Hippodrome, you have gone too far. Go past the first couple of cross streets, then look for rue Paul Baumier on your right: there is a Gascon restaurant on one corner and the Val Plaisance Charcuterie on the other. Walk up the street warily (the drivers are a bit wild) then pick up the track at the top end of the street. This leads up to the road that comes from somewhere past the Meridien hotel. The track is a bit of a scrabble, with a number of 5 cm stumps, but this mid-60s rambler got up it all right. Once you are on the road, you can either go west to look out over the sea or just look for the walking tracks that start immediately opposite. There is a painted map-sign there (we could not get any printed ones) so take some notes, especially of the distances, because these are repeated on the track signage.

The main thing is to be aware that there are many other tracks than the ones shown, and the red tracks (on the signboard map) are indeed "difficult". In the late afternoon, we found plenty of other walkers and runners so the place is safe enough. Take some water, and watch where you put your feet, as twisted ankles are always possible on the loose stones and rocks. Keep an eye on where you are going so that you can retrace your steps because the internal signs are poor. The views, however, are superb.

Most of Nouméa is also very close together, and safe to walk day and night between most of the suburbs. By day, the walk from Anse Vata along to and around the Baie des Citrons is pleasant. 

What to eat and drink in Noumea, New Caledonia


  • Waterfront Market, Rue Georges Clemenceau. Open every morning, providing a good option for budget breakfasts. Croissants and Pain au Chocolat and a multitude of fresh fruit are available from various merchants. La Buvette du Marché, located inside the building adjacent to the main fruit market, prepares a variety of food including Croque Monsieur (Toasted ham and cheese sandwich) and coffee.
  • The 360 Restaurant is a revolving restaurant on top of one of the Ramada towers. At one point, you are looking straight into the apartments of the other tower, but the food is truly superb, and the lunch views are great.


The main local beer is 'Number One', it is not a complex beer, but pleasant and refreshing. The other local beer is called "Manta".

There are many French wines to be had, but as a rule, the New Zealand and Australian wines seem to travel better (but that is an Australian opinion, and so open to being questioned). The local tap water is perfectly safe to drink, but bottled water is easy to find if you are fearful. We stocked our hotel fridge from the neighborhood general store and effected considerable savings.

For Australians, the idea of 'flat white' coffee is foreign. A short black is 'espresso', cappuccino comes heaped high with cream (not froth), and tea is served without milk. The hot chocolate is up to Belgian standards. Fruit juices are pricey but excellent.

Shopping in Noumea, New Caledonia

  • Local Markets just off rue Clemenceau, South of the CBD every morning of the week is local markets from approx 5:00 am till 10:00 am. Where cheap food, arts, and crafts can be purchased. It is reminded though, that bartering price is not common in New Caledonia.

Food is not cheap in New Caledonia, but you can do well shopping at the non-tourist shops. Learn to detect the boulangerie and patisserie for bread and pastries, the charcuterie for meat and pâté and so on, but don't pass by the slightly seedy-looking general stores, where you can probably get tinned pâté, packaged cheese (wedges of brie, for example) and more.

Plan your alcohol purchases carefully because many supermarkets will not sell you alcohol on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Safety in Noumea, New Caledonia

New Caledonia is fairly safe, but it is wise to take the following precautions:
  • When snorkeling, avoid contact with sea urchins, which are often poisonous, and coral structures, which can cause scrapes that swell badly and take a long time to heal.
  • A sea snake known locally as the Tricot Rayé has a potentially lethal venom but is not aggressive when left alone, and only attacks when threatened.
  • There are sharks, some of them quite large, though Great White Sharks are rare. Avoid shark attacks by:
  1. Not carrying fish that you have caught (and may be bleeding) while in the water
  2. Facing the shark, so that to the shark you appear large, vertical and difficult to bite
  • There are no crocodiles native to New Caledonia. Rogue individuals have been observed on the island no more than twice within the past 200 years, probably swept out from the Solomon Islands.

Iodine or a similar disinfectant is invaluable to fight off small infections, which quite commonly occur in most sores and scratches.

Some mosquitoes carry the dengue fever virus. There is no vaccination for this, so it is important to prevent mosquito bites to the extent possible. Consult a doctor for more information.

Language spoken in Noumea, New Caledonia

The official language is French, and it is difficult to find English speakers outside of Noumea. In Noumea, French, English, and Japanese are widely spoken at hotels, restaurants, and shops. To enjoy a place like this, you should really endeavor to learn some French.


2:54 am
May 29, 2022


25.51 °C / 77.918 °F
light rain

24.07 °C/75 °F
light rain

24.52 °C/76 °F
light rain

24.4 °C/76 °F
light rain

22.66 °C/73 °F
light rain



Travelers recommend visiting the following places of interests

Noumea Cathedral, New Caledonia
Average: 10 (10 votes)

Nouméa Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Saint-Joseph de Nouméa) is a Roman Catholic cathedral, dedicated to Saint Joseph, in Nouméa, New Caledonia. It has been the seat since 1966 of the Archdiocese of Nouméa, to which the former Vicariate Apostolic of Nouvelle-Calédonie was elevated. History The cathedral, dedicated to Saint Joseph, the husband...
Noumea-Paita railway, New Caledonia
Average: 9.1 (10 votes)

The Nouméa-Païta railway was the only railway line serving the New Caledonia. It was opened in December 1914 between Nouméa, the capital, and Païta. The 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge tracks of the railway traveled the 29 kilometers (18 mi) between the two cities in one hour and fifteen minutes. History The idea of a railway connecting Nouméa...
Amedee lighthouse, Noumea, New Caledonia
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The Amédée lighthouse (French: le phare Amédée) is an iron lighthouse located on Amédée Island, 24 km away from Nouméa, New Caledonia. The metal components were made by Rigolet in North-East Paris in 1862 and the tower was constructed in Paris as a demonstration. It was then disassembled into pieces weighing a total of 387,953 kilos and...
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia
No votes yet

The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre (French: Centre culturel Tjibaou), on the narrow Tinu Peninsula, approximately 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) northeast of the historic centre of Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, celebrates the vernacular Kanak culture, the indigenous culture of New Caledonia, amidst much political controversy over the...
Paita, Noumea, New Caledonia
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

Païta (French pronunciation: ​pajta) is a commune in the suburbs of Nouméa in the South Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. New Caledonia's international airport, La Tontouta International Airport, is located there. Sights The Catholic church in the centre of Paita was built in 1875. The modern...

Latest travel blogs about Noumea, New Caledonia

Noumea, New Caledonia. P2

Here you can find the first part of this review. In the heart of Noumea, there's the magnificent Mwa Ka - a giant Kanak totem pole in the heart of Noumea. It was built in 2005 in memory of the funeral date of September 24, 1853 - the day of the capture of New Caledonia by the French. The...

If you take a plane in the area of the Australian Great Barrier Reef and fly eastwards, then in 2 hours you will see New Caledonia . This is the third largest island in Oceania (after the islands of New Zealand and New Guinea). The capital of New Caledonia is one of the finest cities in the world...
New Caledonia From Above. P1 New Caledonia From Above. P2 There are many beautiful beaches on the island of New Caledonia. This is a cottage settlement on artificial canals with sea water. Naia. This settlement is under construction: The erosion of the coast (which is little on the...
Here you can find the beginning of this review. The island has an amazing variety of landscapes and views: It has a distinguishing feature among the islands of Oceania - the rich world of conifers: Finally, we saw The Heart of Voh - the most famous (thanks to the cover of Jan Arthus-...
If you take a plane in the area of the Australian Great Barrier Reef and fly east, you will see New Caledonia 2 hours later. This is the third largest island in Oceania (after New Zealand and New Guinea). It may take a couple of days to travel around New Caledonia by car. But we went to the...
This cruise was very affordable.  And here is a detailed report on the cruise "To the Aborigines, or a Total Solar Eclipse". Sydney - Brisbane - Hamilton Island - Mackay - Lifou (New Caledonia) - Isle of Pines - Noumea - Sydney We spent one day on the fauna of Australia...
New Caledonia is the first island we visited during our cruise. We were in its capital  Noumea . You need a visa to go to the islands, but if you go there as part of a cruise, then the visa is not required! The island of New Caledonia is one of the largest islands in the Pacific Ocean...