Going ashore in Nouméa, New Caledonia

Going ashore in Noumea

Nouméa is the capital city of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is located in a protected harbor in the southwestern part of the island and represents its chief port and principal economic centre. During the months of December and May, Nouméa receives lots of tourists and most of them are coming on board cruise vessels for one day tours of the island. For this reason, the city lives and breaths for the tourism industry during the high season and it remains calm and quiet for the rest of the year.

If the vessel you are travelling with/ working on is taking you to this part of the world you have to take advantage of this opportunity and enjoy some time out, visiting the city like a regular tourist.

Walking inside the terminal is permitted and it will take you only 5 minutes to reach the gate and 5 more minutes to arrive in Moselle Bay – the local marina and the departure point of sea excursions towards the surrounding islets.

The cruise terminal is sheltered also in the Moselle Bay and the area can get very crowded and full of life during high season as lots of tourists are wandering around in every direction. The terminal building hosts a very beautiful and colourful open market where many local artisans and vendors display their valuable articles hoping to catch the eyes of the visitors and open their pockets. If you are interested in local and traditional products, you will find a great variety of products here – clothes, beach articles, jewelry, souvenirs – but also an exchange office, a tourist information point, a bike/car rental office and a few restaurants.

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If you continue your walk along the marina, you will reach the fresh products market which is held daily – from early morning until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The market consists of two separate, but almost similar in shape, buildings – one specialized in fresh fish and seafood, the other in fruits and vegetables.

Fish market, Noumea, New Caledonia

Fruit and vegetable market, Noumea, New Caledonia

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Close to the fresh market, you will discover another open air market with lots of kiosks offering a great display of clothes and souvenirs produced by local artisans. Most of these products are handmade using natural fibers and materials – like cotton, wood, glass, leather, shells and corals.

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Along the marina, you can have a coffee break in one of the cafés and restaurants facing the pleasure harbor or you can wander around and admire the luxurious yachts and start conversations with their owners.

Port, Moselle, Noumea, New Caledonia,

If you love the sea and want to enjoy few hours on the beach, you will find the most beautiful and accessible beaches in the South of the city.

Anse Vata and Baie du Citrons are the main areas for sea activities and they can be reached by bus (number 10/11/90) from Place de la Marne. The bus journey takes ~ 30 minutes up to Anse Vata – a large and open bay, very popular for sea activities requesting a lot of adrenaline.

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If you want to enjoy a nice time on the beach and swim in calm and warm waters you can choose Baie du Citrons as it is sheltered in a small bay, protected from high winds.

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Sunset in Baie du citrons, Noumea, New Caledonia

You can take the tourist train and have a ride around the city (~ 2 hours), listening to the guide while he is telling the story of the city and hopping on and off anywhere you want.

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If you are a nature lover, you can enjoy a walk in one of the parks and gardens scattered around the city or you can combine nature and culture and visit Tjibaou Cultural Centre. The Cultural Centre is located on the Tina Peninsula, in the NE part of the city, close to the domestic airport. It occupies 8 hectares of unspoiled land, in perfect harmony with nature, blending together tradition and history of the Kanak tribes with contemporary architecture.

Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia (2)

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New Caledonia is a tropical island and all the surrounding waters are very rich in marine life which can be explored and admired using only simple snorkeling equipment. The closest area for snorkeling belongs to the small Duck Island (Ile aux Canards) and it can be reached by taxi-boat in 5 minutes.

If you are lucky enough to spend a whole day in Nouméa, you can venture yourself a little further and explore other beautiful islands and islets where you can relax on white sand beaches and explore the unspoiled marine life:

Island Maître – 10-15 minutes by boat;

Island Amédée – 45 minutes by boat;

Island Larégnère – 35 minutes by boat.

If you want to have a panoramic view over the town, you have a few possibilities, the most scenic and popular of which being  Quen Torro. This observation point is situated on the Mount Quen Torro, ~ 130 meters above sea level and it offers an outstanding view over Nouméa and some surrounding islands and shallow waters. You can reach the top after 2 km walk in the heart of the forest or you can follow the street which is going up hill to have a beautiful view along the way. The ascending track begins only few meters away from the last stop of Bus number 10, in the direction Anse Vata.

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Noumea view over the city from Quen Torro

Noumea view over Anse Vata from Quen Torro

Beautiful view from Quen Torro

Noumea view over Duck Island from Quen Torro

Noumea view over the islands from Quen Torro

Useful information:

– 5 minutes walk from the gate, opposite the cruise terminal, you will find a big supermarket – CASINO – which is open every day from 7.30 to 19.30 (Sunday – from 7.30 to 12.30);

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– You can change money in the Exchange Office inside the Cruise Terminal or you can use the ATM change machine which is situated at the entrance of the supermarket. Every transaction requires a fee of 250 francs (~ 2 euros);

– The bus ticket costs 210 francs if bought from the bus driver and 190 francs if purchased from the street kiosks;

– The principal bus station is located in Place de la Marne, close to Place du Cocotiers and the bus terminal is situated few hundred meters away, next to the Chinese District;

– You will find wireless and free internet in almost every bar and restaurant in the city, but the signal is usually very weak;

– If you want to visit Tjibaou Cultural Centre, you can take the bus number 40 from the bus terminal next to the Chinese District.

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