new caledonia

5 of the best adventurous things to do in New Caledonia

Author: Adventure Travel X Aircalin

Google New Caledonia and you will likely be bombarded with images of pristine beaches in varying shades of turquoise and golden yellow. But don’t let these images fool you, this is not your average run-of-the-mill honeymoon destination. Scattered in the South Pacific, some 750 miles east of Australia, the sparkling sapphire backdrop to New Caledonia’s impossibly photogenic archipelago of islands is just the tip of iceberg. The French-owned group of islands is not just a paradise in beach terms, it is also an adventure-lovers dream.

We partnered up with Aircalin, the international airline of New Caledonia, to find out the top five adventurous things to do in New Caledonia that don’t include lazing on a beach with a cocktail in hand (although that is an optional extra).


grande randonnee - hiking - new caledonia
Photo: M. Dosdane / NCTPS

With a height of 1,629m, New Caledonia’s Mont Panié is a sensational climb past waterfalls and swimming holes you can only usually find on Instagram. It’s the highest point in New Caledonia and is located in the northern province of the mainland. Hiring a guide is a great way to get the best of this hike, as they’ll be able to take you through some tribal areas and point out unusual native plants along the way. There’s a hut at the top to stay overnight, as it should take you the better part of a day to get to the top.

Mont Dore is another great hike and is close to the capital Nouméa if you’re based there. Or take on New Caledonia’s very own Grande Randonnée, which begins in the far south in Prony and takes you roughly 80 miles across the mainland all the way to the Dumbéa River, with plenty of huts and camping spots along the way. Mountain biking and horse riding are also popular ways to explore the archipelago’s dramatic and varying landscapes.


36988-Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue - Kayaking - drowned forest- new caledonia
Photo: Terres de Lumière / NCTPS

From the gentle Coral Sea to New Caledonia’s many lakes, rivers and lagoons, kayaking is an incredibly popular activity throughout the islands. Check out Prony Bay and its hot water springs, or travel with an organised tour along the Forgotten Coast, camping on the banks of the river each night. This section of the archipelago retains an authenticity like nowhere else. No route, no marked path, just wild and unspoiled nature to be discovered after the lagoon.

Alternatively head to the Blue River National Park and kayak to the drowned forest, where trees rise from the water like eerie statues. You can even kayak there at night, where under a full moon the trees appear to float like ashen ghosts.

Kite and wind surfing

Baie d'Upi - windsurfing - new caledonia
Photo: / NCTPS

The lagoons of New Caledonia have been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the remarkable variety of marine life and diversity of habitats, from mangroves to seagrasses. They are created by one of the largest reef systems in the world that surrounds the main island and make the perfect conditions for wind or kite surfing.

Throughout the year you will find calm waters, a steady breeze and the odd wave for a little technical challenge. Kite surfing is especially popular off the coast of Nouméa, where beginners and experts alike take to the azure waters. You’ll also find a menagerie of other water sports such as sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing and jet skiing.


Plongée sous-marine - Scuba Diving - New Caledonia
Photo: R. Pacta / NCTPS

As the third most extensive reef system in the world, you won’t be short of excellent scuba diving spots in New Caledonia. Expect stunning and unusual marine life such as sea turtles, manta rays and dugongs, as well as plentiful coral and tropical fish. With excellent visibility and warm sea temperatures year-round there’s plenty to keep both beginners and experts occupied, with some interesting wreck and cave diving for the more advanced.

Check out the Dumbéa Passage or the Shark Pit if you hope to see various varieties of reef and leopard sharks, with the opportunity to spot hammerheads and barracudas too. For shipwrecks, you can’t beat Amédée Island, where you can even swim through the bridge of a sunken French warship. Boulari Pass is popular for larger marine life and you may even see humpback whales here from July to September.


skydiving - New CaledoniaPhoto: Nouméa Skydive / NCTPS

If you’re an adrenaline junkie you won’t find a much better location for a sky dive than in New Caledonia, where views across the whole sparkling archipelago and reef systems await, including the peculiar lunar landscapes of the south.

Paragliding is another popular way to get some air time and is available in several locations near Nouméa including Mont Dore and Quen Toro. If throwing yourself out of a plane or off a cliff isn’t your thing, then you can remain safely inside a helicopter or ultra-light aircraft for the same spectacular views.

New Caledonia Heart plane
Photo: Bérengère Lauprète

How to get to New Caledonia

It’s not as difficult as you may think to visit this little slice of paradise. From the UK, you can fly to New Caledonia with Aircalin and its European partners Air France-KLM, British Airways or Finnair via Japan, which is the quickest route. Aircalin also operates with Asian and Gulf Airlines, and New Caledonia is only a short flight from both Australia and New Zealand.  You can also use Aircalin services to build an unforgettable multi-island trip in the south seas. Aircalin flies to 11 destinations in the Pacific from and to the capital, Nouméa:

Japan (Tokyo, Osaka), Australia (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne), New Zealand (Auckland), French Polynesia (Tahiti), Fiji (Nadi), Vanuatu (Port Vila) and Wallis & Futuna.

Call +441293 874978 or email [email protected] to book your trip, or click here to visit the Aircalin website.

Avion Aircalin-A330