Jenni from Perchalla & Turner Travel Associates recently travelled to New Caledonia with Omniche Holidays and Air Calin for 4 nights. Here she shares her experience and offers advice for anyone considering a holiday in this French paradise.
I was particularly excited as I had never been anywhere in the South Pacific, so it was not only a new country to experience, but a whole new region.
I was off to a great start at check in with Air Calin. We received great service; our exit row seating request was granted, and our Qantas Club and frequent flyer questions were answered.
Onboard, although the seats were a little snug, the service was good, the food was tasty and the in-flight entertainment had a vast selection. The 2.5 hour flight went very quickly.
Arc en Ciel met us at Noumea Airport and drove us the hour to our accommodation for the next 2 nights – Chateau Royal Beach Resort & Spa. The hotel was in perfect location on Anse Vata – a close walk to find bars and restaurants. The hotel itself was my favourite of all we saw – the rooms were spacious and well equipped, the service was very good, the food was delicious and the facilities impressive.
Sylvia from New Caledonia Tourism met us at the hotel and took us to dinner. She organised a transfer for us with Arc en Ciel who were fabulous; always waiting for us before designated pick up time, always friendly and helpful. We went to Astrolabe over on Baie des Citrons and had a beautiful meal with wine.
The next morning after breakfast we had a leisurely stroll along Anse Vata to Hilton La Promenade Residences for a site inspection with Pascal. She was lovely, and her property was also very nice. Very good location, in amongst lots of shops and places to eat. Rooms were very spacious and well appointed. The swimming pool ins't the most lavish but with the beautiful beach so close, it is probably not so important to have a great pool area.
We had some free time before boarding our boat transfer to L’Escapade Island Resort. The area around the port is where the ships come in, so there were lots of touristy markets selling everything from hats and bags, to the obligatory souvenir. There was also a local produce market with lovely looking fruit.
I'm glad I didn't ruin my appetite though as once we were at L’Escapade, we had the most amazing morning tea – complete with an array of scrumptious French pastries – this trip is not about eating in moderation!
L’Escapade offers the closest over-water bungalows to Eastern Australia. There are garden bungalows and over-water bungalows, all of a decent size with direct access to the sea. Guests should note they do allow day trippers onto the island so you need to be wary of how busy it can get if you are an in-house guest.
We travelled back to Citron Bay for lunch. Whilst we were still full from our lovely pastries, we managed to fill ourselves at La Gavotte Creperie with a selection of savoury and sweet crepes.
We had free time after lunch so walked back to Chateau Royal – and went and experienced the Aqua Tonic Spa and the pool. Late afternoon saw an inspection at Le Meridien Noumea.
The next day I took an early morning flight over the Isle of Pines where we went on a short tour of the island – beautiful beaches, a tiny, tiny town and a peaceful grotto. We went to Le Meridien Isle of Pines – a beautiful resort with a lovely pool and beach area.
The walk to the natural lagoon was longer and trickier than we anticipated but it was well worth it; it was absolutely beautiful. We enjoyed an hour of snorkelling and swimming.
All in all, New Caledonia an inviting destination with friendly people and gorgeous surrounds.