Noumea Shore Excursion Reviews

Noumea (Photo:Joel_420/Shutterstock)

Find Things to Do in Noumea

Noumea Cruise Tips, Activities, and Overview

Food and Drink in Noumea

Many of Noumea's restaurants feature European cuisine with a strong French influence. The multi-ethnic menus will take you on an imaginary trip to regions of France, as well as Indonesia, Vietnam and China. Meat tends to be beef, with not much pork or chicken. Restaurants specialising in island food serve deer, shrimp, coconut, crab or wild hog.

For a local taste, try bougna, a traditional Kanak dish of yams, taro, fish and shellfish. Ingredients are marinated in coconut milk and simmered in banana leaves for several hours. You may want to ask what's in each dish, as cooks sometimes add pigeons or candlenut worms. The white worms, served raw or toasted, taste a bit like hazelnuts.

A quick straw poll at the tourism office reveals that La Perle d'Eram is the best for bougna. The restaurant is located at 59 bis rue Sebastopole. It's also the go-to place for grilled lobster.

For lighter lunches of sandwiches, salads, pastries and noodles:

Au Delices de Noumea, a short walk from Coconut Square, at 29 rue Eugene Porcheron, is a gem of a patisserie, which shines with bakery goods, cakes, snacks and sandwiches. It's open daily at breakfast and lunch.
Almost diagonally across from the boulangerie you will find Boop's Cafe, where you can get a thoroughly decent coffee and killer croquet monsieur with green salad. The area is mobbed by hip, young locals and seems to be the place to see and be seen. 20 rue Eugene Porcheron.

Practise your French at Au P'tit Cafe de Noumea (8, Ave des freres Carcopino, Noumea) when you order fancy fare such as Chausson de porc a la pistache with creme de foie gras.

Atelier Gourmand, close to the Anse Vata beach at 141 route de l'Anse Vata, serves sandwiches and bakery goods. It's open Tuesday to Sunday, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For a longer or special meal:

Chez Toto, a French bistro, serves family-style, moderately priced meals. It's near Coconut Square, at 13 rue Auguste Brun.

L'Assiette du Cagou features a locally inspired menu, with veggies cooked as they would be in the countryside. The dining room is basic, but the owner mingles with guests. 15 rue Auguste Brun.

La Chaumiere House features a French menu with Asian and Pacific influences. Items like feta cheese flan, fish pasta, lamb, beef tartare and fish tartare are offered for lunch and dinner. It's closed Sundays. Reservations are recommended. It's located at 13 rue du Dr Guegan, Latin Quartier Latin. 24 27 62

Best Cocktail in Noumea

Pre-dinner aperitifs are popular there, due to New Caledonia's Franco heritage. Common choices are vermouth, Champagne, sherry or a dry, light white wine. The most popular local beer in New Caledonia is named Number 1. If you're after a sundowner near to the sea, head to L'Etrave, downstairs at the Hilton Hotel, Route de l'Anse Vata, Noumea. XPF only.

Beaches in Noumea

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.

Don't Miss in Noumea

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.