On August 8th I set off to New Caledonia. It had been 10 years since I was last in Noumea so I was very keen to see how it had evolved.
We picked up a car at the airport from Thrifty for a mere $ 70 per day. The staff reminds us about the toll road into Noumea which only accepts cash – XFP 150 (AUD$1.50). Luckily I had changed money in Australia before I left for .92c per 100 XFP (although there is a currency exchange desk in the airport terminal in Noumea offering good rates).
As New Caledonia is a French Territory they drive on the right hand side. I was rather nervous about this at first but after having a go I have to say it was not so difficult. Although, don’t ask me to have a conversation at the same time!! Should you wish not to hire a car you can explore Noumea by Explorer City buses, taxi, bike hire and water taxi all for a minimum cost.
It was just before dark when we arrived into Noumea, a 45 minute trip from Tonotuta airport. We called into a “Casino” which was not what we know as a traditional casino with gambling, but a supermarket and picked up a few supplies (Casino is the name of the chain). WOW brilliant French wines from AUD$6 per bottle, Fromage ( cheese ), baguettes and so much more and so CHEAP !! I was in heaven!!
As we took the scenic route along the bays to Royal Tera, our resting place for the night. The Royal Tera Resort & Spa is situated on one of the city beaches in Anse-Vata, Noumea. It has recently been completely renovated from top to bottom. We had a 2 bedroom apartment that was spacious and functional with ocean views from every window. Perfect for families or a group of friends.
For dinner that night we decided to walk along the beachfront to a bar over the water called La Bodega and shared Tapas and Beer/ Wine. Tapas here cost an average of XFP 900 per plate and Beer (“No 1”, the local beer) and Wine were XFP 550 each. Even though the vibe in the bar was brilliant we had an early night as we were excited about the next day.
As we drove the next morning through Noumea I notice how the city has evolved into a modern city with a unique mixture of old French colonial and contemporary architecture. It is a clean city set on a spectacular waterfront. In the middle of the “CBD” stands the well known Coconut square. It was a Thursday so the markets were on. This week the Loyalty Island brought their fair for sale. Everything from Fruit & Vegetables to Clothes and Seafood including ocean fresh Lobsters & Crab were on offer. The markets are open to all locals and visitors to purchase whatever they need. A great way to stock your apartment with local fair and begin your New Caledonian experience!
Maverick Travel would like to thank Cassandra from Aircalin, for this article on her lastest trip last month.
There was too much for just one article so tune in next time for the 2nd and final installment.