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New Caledonia is a French overseas territory located east of Australia and west of Vanuatu. It is a small tropical paradise where you can enjoy fine dining and excellent French wine. It may be a remote location, which is why plenty of people come to relax in New Caledonia. The place consists of one main island, Grand Terre, and a few other smaller islands surrounding it. Before thinking of leaving for New Caledonia, there are a few things you should probably know.
First things first, you need to make sure that you have the required documentation to enter New Caledonia. The territory may be administered by the French, but the visa policy is a bit different. For example, France is a part of the Schengen Area Agreement, but New Caledonia is not. For this reason, a Schengen visa will not grant you entry in New Caledonia. However, there are plenty of visa waiver countries whose citizens can travel there with just a passport. You need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least another 3 months from your arrival in New Caledonia or from your departure from New Caledonia, depending on the nationality. If you are not visa exempt, you need to apply for a visa. To do that, you need to pay a visit to the nearest French embassy or consulate and submit an application there. To find out the requirements, we recommend that you give the embassy a call. The information you find online should be used as reference only.
Getting to New Caledonia is easy enough. There are two major airports there, and you can use multiple airlines. The location is popular among cruise ships as well, which is why you can get there by boat too. However, that is not happening around cyclone season, which is November through March.
The climate in New Caledonia is semi-tropical. What does that mean? It means that while winters are warm, and the water is somewhere at 22 degrees Celsius, but that may still seem a bit cold for a swim. But during the summer, the place is ideal for getting lazy on the beach. You can just lay there and sip a cold beverage while you are getting a fantastic tan. Apart from the excellent beaches, you can go hiking in the mountains. The trails are gorgeous, and when you reach the top, you have a beautiful view over the island.
When you are not sitting in the sun or hiking, you can go snorkeling. New Caledonia has a stunning barrier reef that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is sometimes called the New Caledonia Lagoon. The water is so blue and the reef is so distinctive that you can see it from above as if it were drawn on a piece of paper. Windsurfing is also a popular activity in New Caledonia.
As mentioned above, the cuisine in New Caledonia is exquisite. The French food has always been somewhere in the top as far as kitchens are concerned, and New Caledonia does not disappoint. However, eating out too often may set your budget back. Such delicious food comes at a high price, so make sure that you prepare your wallet for the trip. While you would expect the wine to be really expensive, it is not so bad. You can find several good reds at decent prices.
Since New Caledonia is a French overseas territory, the official language is French. We recommend that you learn some phrases before your trip because finding someone who speaks English can be challenging. The staff in restaurants and hotels can communicate in English, but outside the capital, very few people are able to understand you.
As far as safety is concerned, you do not have reason to worry. However, you need to be very careful when you go snorkeling because poisonous urchins are a thing in New Caledonia, and many people are stung every year. Other creatures may pose a threat as well such sea kraits and even sharks. All of them do not pose a real danger as long as you do not disturb them, stay close to shore, and listen to your guide (if applicable).
The bottom line is that New Caledonia is a slice of paradise. The weather is heavenly, there are a lot of fun things to do, and you can relax as much as you want. The islands have something for everyone.