The first thing I remember flying into New Caledonia was the breathtaking views of New Caledonias lagoon the largest in the world. The second thing was salivating at the sights of the bakeries packed with fresh baguettes, pastries and desserts (almost) too perfect to eat.
Soon added to the favourite bakery list is LAtelier Gourmand, in beachside Anse Vata. A quick queue and its time to pick the treat of the day - a buttery croissant at breakfast, fresh baguettes for lunch, or a mouth-watering dessert (the cream filled choux pastries are best bought by the box).
New Caledonia may be laid back, but it retains a fair bit of French influence lunch is strictly at midday, and it is not a meal the locals miss. Banks close, shops shut, and roads will bustle as workers and students head home for a meal, or to their local snack a restaurant serving up anything from tuna tartare to steak frites. Even beachgoers dutifully set out their picnic when the clock strikes 12.
Its easy to get into the rhythm here New Caledonians rise early, and head to work early. But that also means knocking off work early, with enough time for a snorkel at Baie des Citrons, or a walk around the stunning Promenade Pierre Vernier a local favourite and still have enough time to sneak in a sunset cocktail.
Theres no shortage of vantage points to spot a good sunset here, but the beach-side cocktails MV Lounge are hard to beat. Bodegas another favourite sitting out over the water its the perfect spot to graze on tapas, take in some live music, and watch the sea cucumbers and stingrays below or a dugong, if lucky.
When its time for a tipple of French wines, nothing beats sitting outdoors at Domain du Faubourg or working through the wine menu at Chai de lHippodrome.
One of the truly South Pacific experiences is dropping by a nakamal one of the kava bars dotted around town. Given kavas an acquired taste, and perhaps not one Ive acquired just yet, I love the chilled out vibes and great views at Buddha, perched on the hillside in Ducos, on the outskirts of Noumea.
When it comes to showing visitors the best on offer, its dinner at Marmite et Tire Bouchon after a stroll along the marina watching the locals play ptanque, or snagging a reservation at Au Ptit Caf. Only open Tuesday to Friday, chef David Cano uses seasonal ingredients to rewrite the menu each week. For lower-key, but still tasty-as, Creperie Le Rocher above Baie des Citron serves the best savoury and sweet crepes in town.
Entremet Chocolat, Carambar et Pommes au Calvados @ Marmite et Tire Bouchon (left). Photograph: Eric Aubry / Marmite et Tire Bouchon / NCTPS.
Tuna sashimi with coconut milk along with its croquettes of yams and Pouengo bananas, all prepared with fresh and local products @ Au Ptit Caf (right). Photograph: Monique CECCATO / NCTPS.
If theres only time for one day-trip, swap the touristy ferry to Amde Lighthouse for a catamaran trip to the lagoons lesser-known islets. A croissant and hot coffee to kick off and its sails up, with stops to swim with turtles, explore the vibrant coral and reef fish, and wonder how true it is that those famous black and white sea snakes dont bite.
Theres always a new skill to learn in New Caledonia, so if the winds up, its off the Ilot Matre for some kite surfing. Or when the airs still, a stand up paddle around the bays. When Im game for heading out deeper, theres almost daily dive trips leaving from Noumea. Its hard work keeping up with the reef sharks and manta rays, so a morning of diving is best followed by some moules frites on the balcony of Les 3 Brasseurs and a cold, locally brewed beer. The best spots up on the balcony to people watch the passers-by below.
For something truly unique, I love taking visitors to Le Ponton. This on-water restaurant floats above a reef, and is only accessible by boat. Making it the perfect place for a long seafood lunch, with a few snorkels to take in the sea life below.
With well-paved roads throughout the country, its easy to jump in the car and explore. A day trip to Dumba for a hike up river to Les Marmite du diables, or a trip further north to La Roche Perce, one of New Caledonias only surf beaches, never disappoint.
Campsites are spotted around Grand Terre, making the hardest choice picking where to go. For an adventure-packed weekend, I love heading south to Parc Provincial de la Riviere Bleue a surreal landscape at day, filled with cycling tracks, hiking trails and the famous Cagou bird. Come night, and a full moon, theres an unforgettable moon-lit canoe trip through the eerie sunken forest.
Not a weekend goes by without a fun run, trail run, ocean swim or golf tournament somewhere in New Caledonia, and theres definitely a sport to suit everyone even if some weekends thats popping champagne on the sidelines.
Learn more about the French paradise on Australias doorstep and discover the unforgettable experiences that make New Caledonia one of the true jewels of the South Pacific.
- Staten Island Councilman With Multiple Speeding Tickets Explains Why Speed Cameras Are Bad - Gothamist - February 29th, 2020
- Staten Island community board meetings this week - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- Century 21 Department Store to open on Staten Island - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- Staten Island St. Patricks Parade 2020: What you need to know about street closures - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- How do you run cattle and sheep in a swamp? This farm has done it for five generations - ABC News - February 29th, 2020
- The UnXplained season 2 premiere: Searching for buried treasure on Oak Island - AL.com - February 29th, 2020
- Staten Island's Best Dressed: Hearts of Hope Gala and more - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- Harvey Weinstein Is in for a Rude Awakening on Rikers Island - The Daily Beast - February 29th, 2020
- Rea blasts Sykes over Phillip Island contact - Motorsport.com, Edition: Global - February 29th, 2020
- Overturned truck spills fuel on Staten Island Expressway to N.J. - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- Rikers Island, Harvey Weinstein's new home, is a byword for prison brutality - The Guardian - February 29th, 2020
- Three honored Thursday for outstanding contributions to the Staten Island community - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- CHSAA boys basketball: 7 players named to Staten Islands all-division team - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- 5000 Year-Old Anatolian Sword Discovered On Venetian Island - Ancient Origins - February 29th, 2020
- Letter of Recommendation: 'Treasure Island' - The New York Times - February 29th, 2020
- Fever of Cownose rays spotted along coast of Sanibel Island - Wink News - February 29th, 2020
- NYPD: 14-year-old hit in the head during altercation at the Staten Island Mall - SILive.com - February 29th, 2020
- Fantasy Island Clips Tell You the Rules of That Wild Island - /FILM - February 13th, 2020
- Is Love Island scripted - are contestants told what to say? - Metro.co.uk - February 13th, 2020
- Drive-by shooting on Hilton Head Island has neighbor concerned, angry - WSAV-TV - February 13th, 2020
- Two Staten Island post offices open for passport processing on Presidents Day - SILive.com - February 13th, 2020
- Synod says yes to Channel Islands transfer THE transfer of parishes in the Channel Islands from - Church Times - February 13th, 2020
- Deal Island Families Weigh In On the County's Next Renovation Project - WBOC TV 16 - February 13th, 2020
- Need a winter hike? Try White Rock Bay to Elephant Head Overlook at Antelope Island - KSL.com - February 13th, 2020
- Meet Pancakes, the newborn sloth at the Staten Island Zoo - SILive.com - February 13th, 2020
- Tribal claim adds new twist to Long Island bridge flap - Boston Herald - February 13th, 2020
- Local educators last full day on Parris Island - WNKY EXCLUSIVE - wnky.com - February 13th, 2020
- Rock Island police looking for suspect vehicle in hit-and-run crash - KWQC-TV6 - February 13th, 2020
- Brothers Arrested on Drug, Firearm Charges - Big Island Now - February 13th, 2020
- New Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce events planned for 2020 - Port City Daily - February 13th, 2020
- White Island volcano survivor out of coma and told of deaths of husband and daughter - The Guardian - February 13th, 2020
- Dave Pasternack Brings Italian Restaurant and Steakhouse to Troubled Staten Island Waterfront Development - Eater NY - February 13th, 2020
- Montauk Fishing Crew Overboard Off Fire Island - East Hampton Star - February 12th, 2020
- Grand Island moves forward with six-year road construction project plan - KSNB Local 4 - February 12th, 2020
- The Conventional Wisdom Still Stands: America Can Deal with China's Artificial Island Bases - War on the Rocks - February 12th, 2020
- ABC Act breaks down barriers to mental health care on-Island - Martha's Vineyard Times - February 12th, 2020
- Staten Island mornings: Todt Hill - SILive.com - February 12th, 2020
- Former Little Bay Islands Resident says Water Not Shut off in Community - VOCM - February 12th, 2020
- Poll: Who is Staten Islands best HS girls hoopster this season? - SILive.com - February 12th, 2020
- What Its Like to Be Quarantined on an Island Over Coronavirus Fears - SBS News - February 12th, 2020
- What's happening on Shelter Island the week of Feb. 13 - Shelter Island Reporter - Shelter Island Reporter - February 12th, 2020
- Hicks column: Would another layer of government on Johns Island stop growth? - Charleston Post Courier - February 12th, 2020
- Laughlintown family explores island life on 'Beachfront Bargain Hunt' - TribLIVE - February 12th, 2020
- Local News Padre Island residents satisfied after meeting with CCPD Ashley Portillo 8:51 PM, Feb - KRIS Corpus Christi News - February 5th, 2020
- Episode 969: The Island No One Owns : Planet Money - NPR - February 5th, 2020
- Yes, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is limited to one island per console - GamesRadar - February 5th, 2020
- Minotaurs Island - The New York Times - February 5th, 2020
- Individuals sought for questioning in connection with theft of purse at Staten Island Mall - SILive.com - February 5th, 2020
- Public input will drive Grand Island transportation infrastructure plans - Grand Island Independent - February 5th, 2020
- Have you seen foxes on Staten Island? Youre not alone! - SILive.com - February 5th, 2020
- As SC island homes fall into ocean, owners behind them wonder if they're next - Charleston Post Courier - February 5th, 2020
- City finds no evidence of coyote population on Staten Island - SILive.com - February 5th, 2020
- Babies and children tear gassed during refugee protest on Greek island of Lesbos - Telegraph.co.uk - February 5th, 2020
- Man sails across the Pacific and crashes into Big Island rocky shoreline - Honolulu Star-Advertiser - February 5th, 2020
- Piers Morgan brands Love Island stars brain-dead after hilarious impression of Ched chatting up Jess - The Sun - February 5th, 2020
- Unassuming Canouan Island Is the Caribbean's Next Billionaire Playground - Cond Nast Traveler - February 5th, 2020
- Balboa Island's costly wooden benches are on their way out - Los Angeles Times - February 5th, 2020
- Hatteras Island Oyster Roast in Pictures: A Chilly but Festive Shell-ebration - Island Free Press - February 5th, 2020
- Advocates concerned about rise of private assisted living beds on Vancouver Island - Nanaimo News NOW - February 5th, 2020
- Paradise Island apartment complex where fire destroyed building failed fire safety inspection in 2016 - FirstCoastNews.com WTLV-WJXX - February 4th, 2020
- 5 Indonesian Islands Black Women Should Visit That Are Not Bali - Essence - February 4th, 2020
- Kings Island's Orion giga coaster track is complete. Here's what it took to build it. - USA TODAY - February 4th, 2020
- San Jose Island barges heading back into the water - KRIS Corpus Christi News - February 4th, 2020
- Is there a serial bank robber on Staten Island? Detectives probe heists - SILive.com - February 4th, 2020
- Love Island Gossip Column: Shaughna was on Celebs Go Dating?! And Margot Robbie parties with ex-Islanders - The Tab - February 4th, 2020
- How a $6 billion facelift will transform San Francisco Treasure Island - Business Insider - Business Insider - February 4th, 2020
- Where is Love Island Aftersun filmed and can you get tickets? - Heart - February 4th, 2020
- New Filipino bakery cafe opens on Staten Island with Moms recipes - SILive.com - February 4th, 2020
- Live on a secluded island off Lake Conroe in this just listed, $4.25M 'Glass House' - Chron.com - February 4th, 2020
- How Connor Durman reacted to Sophie Piper's Love Island exit - cosmopolitan.com - February 4th, 2020
- Stranded tourists airlifted from rain-ravaged areas of New Zealand's south island - ABC News - February 4th, 2020
- The Division 2 heads to New Yorks Coney Island this month - PCGamesN - February 3rd, 2020
- Taken in 1856, this is the oldest known photo of Mackinac Island - MLive.com - February 3rd, 2020
- The Allies World War II Battle Of Savo Island Was A True Naval Disaster - The National Interest Online - February 3rd, 2020
- Meet the Staten Island comic book artist who creates superheroes - SILive.com - February 3rd, 2020
- Gusts of up to 80mph blowing in across Highlands and Islands - Press and Journal - February 3rd, 2020
- New Zealand's Hydrothermal Explosion At White Island And Its Lessons For Yellowstone - National Parks Traveler - February 3rd, 2020
- Staten Island Nightlife: 'Oh What a Night;' the big Italian party at Villa Paradiso - SILive.com - February 3rd, 2020
- Late Lonesome George, last of his species, may have living relatives - New Atlas - February 3rd, 2020
- Staten Island woman owns 50K artifacts of African-American history - SILive.com - February 3rd, 2020