To be honest, I am the luckiest girl in the world and my husband considers himself the luckiest man in the world too. This is because we have found each other and recognized each other as The One. We did not fall in love, we remembered paradise when we met. We soon decided to get married, and we wanted nothing less than a honeymoon that reflected this state of bliss and heaven we were feeling. It just had to be perfect and we prayed to be shown a location for our wedding that would let us start our paradise life together in the appropriate atmosphere.
We felt like we should go to the end of the world together and start our beautiful new life from the most pristine place. That’s how we found New Caledonia, a group of islands off of the west coast of Australia, halfway to Fiji. There are five larger inhabited islands including the main one called Grande Terre, and five smaller ones: Mare, Tiga, Lifou and Ouvea constituting the Loyalty Islands, plus The Isle of Pines. Many tiny uninhabited islands are scattered around these. It is an overseas French territory so the culture is an interesting combination of French cuisine and architecture with a tropical paradise and local indigenous culture.
Being a little bit of a perfectionist, I had to make sure everything was perfect for our wedding, so I explored a lot. Here are some tricks and tips to help you out if you are going to New Caledonia for the first time.
First Time Visitors New Caledonia Guide
Check visa regulations beforehand
Here is the government website where you can check the latest visa regulations. EU, American, Canadian, Australian and NZ citizens are given three month stays but other nationals might be allowed only a one month stay. Most importantly, make sure your passport is valid for at least three months longer than your intended stay and buy and onward ticket to avoid any issues.
We were surprised to find that the currency in New Caledonia is not Australian dollar, but South Pacific franc. It is marked with either CPF or XPF and it is used throughout the territory, with AUD being used only in major hotels and resort restaurants. Take time to explore the exchange rates before coming to the island since they are not the best once you get there. If you can pay with a credit card or use your debit card for cash at an ATM, that might be more reasonable and save you money.
Don’t count on your English
This was another surprise for us, English speakers just expect English to be spoken everywhere, but this was not the case here. The official language is French and the local population only speaks French. We were so sorry to miss out on communicating with anyone other than our receptionist at the hotel just because we didn’t speak any French. So, my advice is, at least get a basic French phrasebook or invest some time in learning the language beforehand. It’s the most romantic language after all.
Explore different accommodation options
We definitely wanted to stay at the best possible place, so we chose the high-end Hilton Noumea, with perfect beachfront views of the ocean. However, we also wanted to experience some local flavor, so we extended our stay and found some tribal accommodation in bungalows which was perfectly acceptable and more budget friendly. There are various types of accommodation available for any pocket, from camping to luxurious hotels.
See as much as you can
I know it is easy to stay in just one place because it is perfect and you can’t imagine anything better, but I encourage you to explore as much as you can, go on cruises to the South Pacific, visit small uninhabited islands and see unspoiled nature that could as well be the most pristine nature you will ever get to experience. Also, check out Noumea, the capital with a great metropolitan feel to it and savor a tropical version of Paris away from France.
All I can say is that we did find a perfect place on Earth in New Caledonia and that we are forever grateful to it for giving us the most magical, otherworldly entrance into our dream life together. We’ve found our heaven, so can you! Bon voyage!