Au revoir la Nouvelle-Calédonie

Posted: July 19, 2007    Categories: Melanesia, New Caledonia, Pacific/Oceania

I’m sitting in the Noumea airport milking their free wireless internet for all it’s worth before my flight to Port Vila, Vanuatu.

In talking to people online, most have never heard of New Caledonia….or Vanuatu. They certainly don’t know where they are and know nothing about them. I really can’t blame anyone for not knowing where tiny countries in the Pacific are. I certainly didn’t know anything about them before I started doing research for my trip.

Because I didn’t know much about these places, I really didn’t have any sort of mental image of what it might be like. For example, I have a definite idea of what China will be like. Everyone is familiar with Chinese food, music, clothese, etc. Everyone knows Chinese people. So, right or wrong, you probably have some sort of mental image of what China will be like.

You probably have no mental image for what New Caledonia is like. I certainly didn’t before I got here. I just sort of assumed it would be like Papeete, Tahiti I guess. Both are French territories in the Pacific so I just assumed they could be similar. For that reason, I only scheduled to stay here for 3 days.

Boy was I wrong.

Noumea is the nicest city in the Pacific (New Zealand and Hawaii aside). It really could be a city transported from the south of France. The majority of the city seems to be French, with a Kanak minority (where as the rest of the Island has a Kanak plurality). The cars are French, there are cheap baguettes, French TV….everything.

There are several marinas in town and they were all loaded with sailboats. I saw a few in other pacific islands, but nothing like in Noumea. There were easily several times more sailboats here than I saw in the rest of the Pacific combined (again, excluding New Zealand).

I’m really surprised this isn’t on more lists of places to visit. Even though its one of the closer islands in the pacific to Australia, the number of Australian tourists seems low. Its mostly French and Japanese.

I think not spending more time here will be one of my regrets for the Pacific…

Anyway, I’m off to Vanuatu in a few hours and I’m really looking forward to this part of the trip. Visiting the volcano should be one of the highlights so far. I don’t know how net access in Vanuatu will be, so you might not get any updates for a few days.

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