‘Can your cholesterol go up if you eat too much French cheese?’
The doctor gave me a quizzical look.
‘How much cheese are we talking?’
‘Err maybe two blocks a day…’
To be fair I had just come back from a week in New Caledonia, and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to discover an entire universe of gooey French goodness only one and a half hours from Brisbane!
New Caledonia has all the tropical island essentials:
-soft white sand ✔️
-crystal clear water ✔️
-frolicking marine life ✔️
-swaying palm trees ✔️✔️✔️
Add to that the French influence and you have one intoxicating dreamy destination.
I wanted to visit New Caledonia for two main reasons:
- to hopefully do some nice snorkelling
- the chance to practice my terrible French
So off we went with three large backpacks, a car seat, pram, oh and a one year old baby for a week long holiday.
Now having travelled with my baby previously I had fairly low expectations of how much we could realistically see and do in one week.
What I wasn’t expecting was how diverse and interesting all of our experiences were, so much so I felt we had been away for much longer!
We spent most of our time in Noumea. It is a good base for a few days as there are a number of easy day trips you can do and there is a lot of choice of self-contained apartments. We had a hire car which made getting around really easy – it is a good idea especially if you are confident driving on the other side of the road!
We stayed at Casa del Sol apartments which had excellent views, a full kitchen, laundry, and bathtub – perfect for travelling with a baby! They also provided a cot. Casa del Sol apartments are located right in the middle of Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons which are the nicer areas to stay in Noumea.
There are long promenades to walk along, shops to browse, and calm sandy beaches which are pretty good for kids to play on (although the beaches on Isle of Pines are much nicer!).
What I was most concerned when visiting Noumea would be the food… well lack of decent food! I read a lot of reviews of Noumea where people complained about the cost and quality of food so I did a bit of research and came across this excellent Good Food guide. My highlights from this list which were very baby-friendly were Creperie Le Rocher and Amorino.
Now for the ultimate food experience, you cannot go past one of Noumea’s supermarkets. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I saw the range of French cheeses (and at quite good prices). Its worth staying in a self-contained apartment just so you can stock the fridge with French cheese, pastries and wine and give yourself a nice big dose of cholesterol for a few days. I would fly again from Brisbane purely to indulge in all the French food goodness.
For a different, more healthy, experience, head to the markets at Port Moselle where you can buy fresh seafood and local fruit and veggies.
Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie
A perfect rainy day activity, the aquarium in Noumea is excellent! The highlight for me was seeing live nautilus – plus sea snakes, mudskippers and fluorescent corals! Plus there are the usual suspects of rays, sharks, turtles and hundreds of brightly coloured fish – it is very child-friendly too!
Blue River National Park
For something completely different from white sand and coral reefs, head south to the Blue River National Park. You can immerse yourself in the native vegetation of New Caledonia and see unique species like kaori trees and cagou. When you arrive at the park entrance, you get on a bus that will drop you at a number of different stops. We got off at one stop and then walked to another stop to be picked up – very easy and relaxing.
If you have a baby, it is a great day trip if you can take them in a carrier. There are picnic spots throughout the park so remember to take your own food and water. There is a lot of red dirt though so be prepared for messy kids!
There are a few different island day trips that you can do from Noumea, and we chose to do the trip to Amedee Island was absolutely fantastic.
If you are dreaming about a picture-perfect tropical island getaway complete with fun surprises like tricot rayes then Amedee Island will make you very happy indeed.
The Mary D company runs a daily trip to the island which includes a delicious buffet lunch and slightly-cheesy but entertaining activities like dancing and drumming.
The island itself is a coral cay so it is very nice to walk around and the snorkelling is quite good. There is extensive coral and also sea grass beds with quite a few turtles.
If you have a baby, there are plenty of deckchairs in the shade and also a playground. The trip to Amedee Island was actually the highlight of the holiday for our baby – especially the dancing demonstration!
Isle of Pines
A quick twenty minute flight from Noumea and you literally fly over and land on a postcard – the Isle of Pines is truly stunning with blinding white beaches, electric blue water and a very laid back vibe.
I made sure we timed our stay to avoid cruise ship visits, which I imagine would really change the peaceful atmosphere of the island. Use this link to check the cruise ship schedules.
The highlight was snorkelling in the natural pool with no one else around – a real life aquarium!
We stayed at Oure Tera resort and for those of you with small children, these were the baby travel perks:
- clean white sand with shade & beach chairs, and shallow calm water – perfect for playing!
- the tropical bungalows have a bath tub and a small fridge so you can bring cold baby food (like yoghurt and cheese sticks), and there is also a large floor area for exploring
- the onsite restaurant has high chairs and a great view and the buffet breakfast has plenty of baby-friendly options
- they will also provide cots on request
- the location is great for beach walks – take a baby carrier
- highly recommended is a day trip to the natural pool- it is relatively easy to do with a baby. The trip from Oure Tera leaves at 10am and returns at 3pm. Make sure you take a baby carrier, walking shoes like Keens that can get wet, and your snorkelling gear. You can eat lunch at Le Meridien resort (and they have high chairs).
- If you fly to Isle of Pines, the luggage limit is 15kg. If you are going with a baby its a good idea to pay for extra luggage when making your flight booking so you can fit in baby food etc.
I hope that has inspired you to say oui oui to visiting New Caledonia! Oh and the advice from my doctor – one week of extreme gooey cheese eating is totally ok! Yahooo!!