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Know Before You Go
- Make sure you bring enough insect repellent with you when visiting Noumea. Bites from mosquitos and other creatures can expose you to Malaria and Dengue fever which are common in the area. Protection is especially important in the evenings when mosquitoes are more active.
- On Mondays and Sundays, almost all attractions and shops will not be open. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough food if your hotel does not provide meals.
- On touristy beaches in Noumea, it is acceptable to go topless. However, outside the capital, it is considered unacceptable by the chief.
- If you are requesting to stay at a tribal homestay, you will need to bring the chief a small gift as a sign of respect. The same goes if you plan to camp on a clan's grounds or visit a particular site.
- The locals consider it rude to photograph the huts in Lifou as they are sacred. It's also a good idea to ask permission before taking photos of local children and adults as well.
Getting Around Noumea
The easiest way to get around Noumea is by car. The roads are kept in excellent condition, so unless you intend on driving through small mountain roads, you won't need a 4WD. Rentals start from CFP 3500 per day and include a free 150 km per day.
But there are a few public transport options to get you around town:
- The Little Train is a tour that runs several times a day. It costs only CFP 2000 for the day and goes past all the major sites of Noumea. If you want to spend time at a location before moving on, you can hop off and catch the next one along the route.
- There is also the Noumea Explorer hop-on-hop-off bus that runs on an hourly loop past all the major tourist sites. Tickets cost around CFP 1500 for the day, and it's an easy way to explore the capital. However, the stops can be a little hard to locate, so make sure you get a map and a leaflet from the tourist office that shows the timetable and the locations.
- For travellers who are comfortable speaking a little French, there is also the city's local bus service. With the drivers rarely understanding English, basic French will go a long way to buy tickets and figure out if you are going in the right direction. Tickets cost CFP 190 from the ticket office or CFP 210 on board, and the buses operate 6 am to 7 pm.
- Other options include taxis, hiring a bicycle and cycling the 2.5 path that borders the coast or exploring the city on foot.
When is The Best Time to Visit Noumea?
From September to December temperatures cool off to a bearable 26–30°C with a low chance of rain making it the best time of year to visit Noumea. But the preferable climate and festivals attract high numbers of tourists and hotels increase their rates.
The hottest months of the year for Noumea (January to March) are both cyclone season and the city's offseason. Despite the heavy rainfall (with February being the wettest month of the year), you'll find cheaper airline tickets as well as lower hotel prices.
As the weather starts to cool down from April onwards, it's the perfect time to visit for divers. Visibility is at its best in April, and you'll have the best chances of spotting whales.
Noumea's shoulder season is from June to August. Day temperatures reach a cool 24°C, ideal for hiking, cycling and horseback riding around the island. Hotels have yet to hike up their prices for the summer season making it an ideal time to visit for budget travellers who don't mind the colder weather.
Airports in Noumea
La Tontouta International Airport
La Tontouta International Airport is New Caledonia's main international airport. It is located 45 km from the city centre and has regular flights from Tokyo, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia and other Pacific nations. With little to no competition on routes, airfare can be high flying into this airport, so keep an eye out for deals.
Nouméa Magenta Airport
Nouméa Magenta Airport is the domestic airport for New Caledonia. It's situated 4 km from the city centre and serves all domestic routes such as the Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines, Belep Islands, Koné, Koumac and Touhou.
Getting to and from Noumea's Domestic and International Airports
If you are flying into Tontouta International Airport, the most expensive way to get into town will be by taxi. With Noumea being 45 km away, the cab ride will cost you well over $100. Taxi's from Nouméa Magenta Airport are also pricey compared to other options.
The more affordable way to get into the city is to use a shared transfer bus. It should cost you about $35 from Tontouta and $14 from Noumea Magenta. You'll find the shuttles outside the arrival terminals in the bus parking area. Buses are always there to meet arriving flights, so you shouldn't have trouble finding one no matter what time your flight lands.
If you want to save yourself the hassle, you can also rent a car at the airport. Rentals are right outside the terminals with plenty of options. It's the easiest option if you don't speak French and it will give you more freedom getting around during your trip.