Nouméa: Colourful Peaceful Island Life
When one part of your life comes to an end and another is set to begin, what better way to disconnect than jumping across to New Caledonia for a long weekend?
After finding a fantastic ‘grab a seat’ deal with Air New Zealand, I ventured into planning a last minute trip. I’m usually the epic several months ahead planner, so this was a new experience for me. In more ways than one!
I’d never travelled to the Pacific Islands before, which is almost unheard of from a Kiwi. They had never really pulled me because I thought I’d get bored as a solo traveller.
I may have answered most questions in Spanish despite starting conversations in French, but much to my delight most people in Nouméa spoke some level of English. Lesson learnt when you learn too many languages partially you may end up not really making sense to anyone (except yourself).
This was a super short trip. I literally left Saturday morning, arrived early afternoon and left Nouméa Monday morning, arriving home mid-arvo. Turned out to still be a pretty satisfying amount of time though!
Saturday was spent getting my bearings, going for walks along the boulevard and swimming in the pleasant (I won’t say warm) waters. I ate pastries and enjoyed a crepe by the water for dinner, followed by gelato desert (as you do).
Unable to get quite out of the work wakeup time (plus Nouméa is an hour behind NZ) I got up early Sunday morning and ventured out to the markets.
The markets were in three large hexagon-shaped buildings inter-linked with open sides. There was fish and meat, cheeses and pastries, fruit and vegetables galore! Outside were some touristy trinket market stalls which didn’t really hold anything unique.
I travelled by local bus to the markets and decided it was a great idea to walk back, taking photos along the way… the mistake was wearing jandals (aka flip flops) on the rather long walk.
On arrival back to the hotel, nursing my poor feet I decided it was island time! Onwards to Duck Island for snorkelling!
Duck Island Snorkelling
Getting to Duck Island means a short 5-10minute taxi boat (1250 CFP return, about $17 NZD). I happened to meet three Kiwi ladies who by chance work near where I lived, which provided some entertaining chat while we waited for the boat.
Upon arrival my feet declared the rough coral (rather than sand) was not a very good idea. It’s not the sort of ideal sun bathing surface either.
Donning my snorkel which I’ll brought with me it, was time to check out what was below the surface. Colourful coral of many shapes and sizes and so many fish! Stripy ones, yellows, blues, small and some huge ones that almost gave me a fright!
I’ll share a bit more on my Duck Island adventure next week! So stay tuned!
Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia
I had thought New Caledonia would be super fancy given what other people had said and I’m not one for fancy places at all… so I was pleasantly surprised when I found it was tidy, with lots of colourful flowers but not over the top fancy. There were still plenty of run down buildings and people dressed casually.
Nouméa is an expensive place, my hotel was the most expensive part of the trip, but you can save in other ways. I pre-booked my shuttle bus (2100 each way, $30 NZD), I ate things that I could take down to the beach or my hotel balcony. I’m not a huge fan of eating alone in restaurants as a solo traveller, so this suited me fine. I found a supermarket too which was a fraction of the price for some items.
It was a fantastic little getaway, just enough time to do everything I wanted. If I’d had an extra day I would have gone for walks in the other direction of town. I had epic sunny warm days and cooler evenings, which was very lucky given it was winter! Wearing dresses and swimming in June is unheard of in New Zealand, so it was a lovely little reprieve from the Kiwi winter before I started my new job.
Check back next week for more about my Duck Island snorkelling adventure!