Nouméa, New Caledonia, Moselle Bay and Saint Joseph Cathedral
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Nouméa, New Caledonia, Private beach
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Nouméa Lagoon Beach iStock / Rhys_Boehm
Nouméa, New Caledonia, Nouméa Lagoon and reefs
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Nouméa Lagoon iStock / Massilia
Nouméa, New Caledonia, Beach with palm trees
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Palm-Shaded Beach iStock / LisaStrachan
Nouméa, New Caledonia, Hibiscus
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Nouméa, New Caledonia, Escapade Island Resort
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Escapade Island Resort iStock / Corosukechan3

Nouméa, New Caledonia

Nouméa, New Caledonia, Buoy near the sea Buoy statue iStock / &#169 Stephan Herby

A saucy blend of France and the South Pacific, the capital of New Caledonia lies at the southern end of Grande Terre, the French territory's largest island. The city's French colonial architecture and sidewalk cafés offer an intriguing foil to local Kanak culture and palm-shaded beaches.

What We Love

Tjibaou Cultural Center: Even if you can't catch a show or exhibition at this hub of Melanesian art, dance, and music, stop in to marvel at the incredible modern architecture, inspired by traditional Kanak great houses.

Baie des Citrons: "Lemon Bay" offers the best swimming and snorkeling inside the city limits, and later morphs into a hip strip with trendy bars, restaurants, and a microbrewery called Les 3 Brasseurs.

Best Known For

French Cuisine: Pick your “poisson” (pun intended) — Nouméa's Gallic eateries run a tasty gamut from baguettes and bouillabaisse to crepes, roast duck, rabbit confit, and veal cordon bleu.

Cosmopolitan Culture: A real-life version of Rick's Café in Casablanca, Nouméa has all sorts — French sophisticates and bohemians, Kanak businessmen and reggae singers, Vietnamese chefs and North African supermodels.

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Who It's Best For

Global Culture Connoisseurs: Aficionados of the exotic will dig the city's heady ethnic, culinary, musical, and architectural mix.

Aqua Adventure Seekers: The many beaches and smaller tropical isles around Nouméa lend themselves to scuba and snorkeling, sailing and kite surfing, jet skiing and sunset cruises.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

The Beaches Aren't Cheap: Just like in the Riviera, expect to shell out cash for lounge chairs, umbrellas, and other sea, sun, and sand amenities.

Brush up on Your French: Much like the mother country, a lot of the locals either don't speak English or prefer that conversation takes place in their native tongue.

Joe Yogerst

Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.

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Itineraries Including Nouméa, New Caledonia
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