Exploring New Caledonia on a Budget

Statue of St. Maurice, St. Maurice Bay, near Vao, Ile des Pins (Isle of Pines), New Caledonia
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As one of the most lovely Polynesian islands, New Caledonia has a reputation for being an expensive tourist destination. However, while this may have been the case in the past, it is now very possible to have a great time at a cost comparable to any other South Pacific destination (such as Fiji, The Cook Islands, or Tonga).

Of course, if you stay at a top-end resort and eat only at the resort restaurants or other restaurants in the tourist areas then you will be paying top dollar. However, if you look around, you'll realize that the cost of food and activities doesn't have to be so expensive.

It's actually much easier to plan an inexpensive quality holiday in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, than in many other parts of the Pacific. If you're prepared to be a bit adventurous and prepare some of your own meals it can provide for outstanding value as a South Pacific destination.

Noumea Accommodation and Resorts

Virtually all of the tourist hotels and resorts in Noumea are located near the waterfront areas of Anse Vata and Baie de Citron.

These resorts do have the advantage of being close to town and to the waterfront, especially the beaches, which can reduce transport costs and save you time. The Chateau Royal (formerly Royal Tera) and Meridian are right on the beach and the other hotels are just across the road.

Another option is to stay in a privately owned house or apartment (called a 'gite'). Many people rent their property out in this way. This will work out to be a lot cheaper than a hotel, although they will generally be in an urban area further from the beach. Gites are also usually available only on a weekly rather than a nightly basis.

Transport

The local bus service is frequent and inexpensive. If you are with a group, a taxi may be cheaper to split.

Meals and Dining

Even on the restaurant strip at Anse Vata and Baie de Citron, it is possible to eat for less than $7 USD per person for lunch. Every restaurant has its menu and prices clearly displayed outside and if you travel a little further away you will find the restaurants to be even cheaper.

You can also head to the Noumea market, open daily until midday, or one of the several supermarkets and do your own catering. Grab some French bread, cheese, and a bottle of wine for a meal you can make to your liking.

Activities

There are many things to do in New Caledonia that won't cost you a fortune. In addition to swimming and sunbathing on Anse Vata and Baie de Citron, you can also take part in one of these inexpensive activities:

  • Visit museums like the Maritime Museum, World War II Museum, Tjibaou Cultural Center, and more.
  • Explore the streets and shops of downtown Noumea.
  • Take a snorkeling trip to the nearby reefs.
  • Visit St Joseph's Cathedral.
  • Walk to Ouen Toro Lookout for a panoramic view of Noumea and the surrounding sea.
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