Popular Noumea Shore Excursions
Noumea Morning Market is open 5 to 11 a.m. weekdays on Moselle Bay. Vendors sell fresh fish, meat, veggies and racks of souvenirs and there is free Wi-Fi on offer here, too. At the edge of the market, on the waterfront, are the offices of tour operators, open from 9 a.m., every Tuesday to Sunday. Tour boats can take you fishing, sailing or on trips to nearby islands such as Amedee Lighthouse and Duck Island. The enchanting Isle of Pines, which is 2.5 hours each way by boat, will be too far for most cruise ship port stops.
The Musee de la Ville, Noumea (Town Museum) facing Coconut Square, provides a fascinating history lesson of the early days of World War II in the Pacific when New Caledonia became the primary Allied military base and naval centre in the Pacific. Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Brochures are in English and French.
Tjibaou Cultural Centre, designed by architect Renzo Piano, explores and promotes Kanak, an indigenous culture of the South Pacific. Stories are told through exhibits and collections of ritual masks and costumes, totem poles and sculptures. A pathway lined with traditional Melanesian huts from three different regions is a must-see. Open daily. If you want a bus to the centre, ask at the tourism office on Coconut Square. Blue-line Karuia and Noumea Explorer buses run regularly to Tjibaou Centre from the city centre.
Visit the Blue River Park if you want to see plants that look like they belong in dinosaur movies. (Such movies have been filmed there.) The park is about 45 minutes from Noumea, so you'll need to rent a car. Follow the main road that winds around the mountains and valleys. Stop to look at a giant Kauri tree that stands about 120 feet high and is about 1,000 years old. Don't miss the Exhibition Building (Maison du Park) for detailed displays of the plants and animals found there. The land is 160 million years old. You may prefer to hire a guide in Noumea for this trip, which costs about XPF$12,000 (AU$147), including lunch. A guide can help you find a good stopping place to look for rare cagou birds, most of which live in the park.
Amedee Lighthouse Island, 45 minutes by high-speed ferry from Noumea, is a bit touristy, but everyone -- especially children -- seems to have a good time strolling, swimming, snorkelling and climbing coconut trees. You can take a ship's excursion or find a tour operator, either at the cruise terminal or at the waterfront next to the daily outdoor market, a 10-minute walk to the right as you exit the terminal.
Noumea's waterfront is a series of bays with beaches. You could walk for hours.
Best beach for walking and jogging: Cote Blanche
Best lively beach with bars and restaurants across the street: Lemon (Citrons) Bay
Best beaches for watersports and watching kitesurfers and windsurfers: Anse Vata and Cote Blanche.
New Caledonia is on the world windsurfing circuit. As soon as the trade winds start blowing, a parade of sailboards flitting to and fro brings the waters of Anse Vata and Cote Blanche to life. On Anse Vata, go to the south end, near the Meridien Hotel.