When it comes to idyllic island getaways the whole family can enjoy, it’s hard to beat New Caledonia. Loved for its mix of French chic and Melanesian charm, this Pacific Island is the ideal place to soak up a little culture alongside your typical beachside getaway. While any beach holiday to New Caledonia is sure to include plenty of sun and sand, make sure you drag yourself away from the resort to see these family friendly spots. From snorkelling in lagoons to discovering pristine waterfalls, here are our top five activities that everyone will love.
Walk the Reef
New Caledonia’s double barrier reef is the second largest in the world and is nestled within the world’s largest lagoon. With more than 900 varieties of coral and 15,000 types of marine life on offer, there are endless opportunities for snorkelling and diving. For kids aged over eight, don’t miss the Sea Walker trip, where you can don a lightweight helmet with a hose linked to the surface and take a walk six metres below the surface.
Aquarium des Lagons
Even the youngest kids who can’t yet handle a snorkel are sure to delight in the sea life on display at the Aquarium des Lagons. Natural sunlight and constantly running seawater ensure the displays boast realistic surroundings, and with stingrays, sea snakes and a turtle pool to look at there’s plenty to occupy the littlies. Make sure you time your visit to coincide with the daily fish and shark feeding.
Take a Day Trip
New Caledonia boasts several smaller islands that are ideal to escape to for a little isolation and fun. Opt for Île aux Canards (Duck Island), which is close to the mainland and boasts an underwater trail taking snorkelers on a journey through the marine life. Other options include visiting Îlot Amédée, famous for its lighthouse and white sand beaches, or the Île des Pins (Isle of Pines) to see the legendary ancient trees that have come to define New Caledonia.
Parc Zoologique Et Forestier
Get to know some of the endemic local wildlife, such as the cagou (a flightless grey bird) and notou (one of the world’s largest pigeons) at the local zoo. The kids are sure to love petting the donkeys, goats and deer and there’s a playground where they can burn off any extra energy once you’ve had enough of the animals. To make it even more memorable, travel there on Le Petit Train. These miniature trains run from the city centre and end at the zoo, passing Nouméa’s main beaches and shopping districts along the way.
Blue River Provincial Park
After exploring the coast, get acquainted with some of the island’s interior on a day trip to the Blue River Provincial Park. Here, you can opt to explore it all on foot or by bike, taking your time to meander past giant kauri pine trees that grow up to three metres in diameter. Don’t forget to pack your swimmers as there are many freshwater swimming holes that are perfect for cooling off throughout the day.