The islands of New Caledonia offer visitors the fun of a modern tropical vacation along with the chance to experience ancient tribal culture and tradition. These islands combine warm breezes, white sand, turquoise lagoons, and Melanesian culture with French sophistication. In true Stowaway fashion, here are ways you can explore, dream, and discover several islands in the New Caledonia archipelago.

Grande Terre

Photo by Andrew Livingston. New Caledonia’s beautiful beaches on more than 30 islands give visitors a chance to watch the sun rise or set over the ocean horizon.

Grande Terre is the cigar-shaped main island of New Caledonia that became a French colony in 1853. The capital city of Noumea, a cultural melting pot, has come to be known as the “Paris of the Pacific.”

Explore the L’aquarium des lagons (Aquarium of the Lagoon). The aquarium contains various creatures and plant life that live in the lagoon, including phosphorescent corals, wrasses, and sharks.

Dream in the tropical foliage. Visitors can hike lush, forested mountains to reach beautiful waterfalls at Blue River Provincial Park or Madeleine Falls. As the sun goes down on the rolling plains, the sky turns purple with the dusk—and you can take in the fresh vegetation and wide open spaces.

Discover the diverse culture in Noumea. Visit the Tjibaou Cultural Center, which promotes and preserves the native culture of the Kanak people, the Melanesian group that is indigenous to New Caledonia.

Photo by William Lane. The Kanak people use totems as part of their religious worship.


Isle of the Pines

The Isle of the Pines is part of a set of islands south of Grande Terre. This island is surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef—the second largest coral reef in the world, second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

Explore the breathtaking beauty. Listed by UNESCO—United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—as a World Heritage Site, the lagoon around the island has been described as being so blue that it “almost hurts the eyes.”

Dream in a relaxed, secluded environment. The Isle of the Pines is a 20-minute flight from Noumea. Locals live in a relaxed way, sharing a wise philosophy: “Why measure the time? It will never end.”

Discover yourself. The tranquil beauty of the Isle of the Pines offers the perfect backdrop for quiet moments of self-reflection and rejuvenation.

Loyalty Islands

Photo by William Lane. People of New Caledonia, especially the native Melanesians, are very friendly and almost always have a story to tell.

The three main Loyalty Islands, Lifou, Mare, and Ouvea, are located just east of Grande Terre.

Explore the lagoon firsthand. Each of these islands offers various activities: big game fishing, scuba diving, and kayaking.

Dream about cuisine. Bougna, a traditional dish of the Loyalty Islands, consists of fish, prawns, lobsters, coconut milk, banana leaves, yams, and sweet potatoes—and don’t forget the snails and pigeons or the candlenut worms that add a hazelnut flavor. If you have more traditional, conservative tastes, don’t worry: Melanesians also eat a lot of chicken and rice-based meals.

Discover traditional Melanesian culture. The Melanesians, also known as the Kanaks, are extremely friendly and hospitable, and they maintain a notably laid-back lifestyle. You can get a taste of the Melanesian lifestyle by staying in a gÎte, a small hotel or resort that offers various levels of accommodations.

—Kathy Hopkinson