New Caledonia is notorious for not being a budget friendly destination. Because of this, many people decide not to visit. However, we found that, travel in New Caledonia is comparable to other very popular travel destinations, like Australia. And the cost of traveling in Australia isn’t usually a deterrent is it? With that in mind we decided to give New Caledonia a go.
Yes, New Caledonia is expensive.
Compared to other Pacific nations, it is very expensive. But compared to nearby Australia, the costs are fairly standard. If you are looking for a holiday where you can live like a King without burning a hole in your pocket, well, maybe New Caledonia isn’t the best idea. But if you want to experience the culture and beauty of New Caledonia, and are willing to pass on the 5 star resorts, then New Caledonia is very, very doable – even on a fairly restrictive budget.
This post will help you prepare your budget for a trip to New Caledonia. However, I also really recommend reading our post on “things I wish I knew before arriving in New Caledonia.”
Budget accommodation in New Caledonia
Accommodation costs will be your biggest expenditure in New Caledonia. Costs here are on par, and sometimes more expensive, than prices in Australia – so be prepared. There is a hostel in the capitol of Noumea, and I hear it is very nice, but it also can book out weeks (or months) in advance, so be prepared.
We were traveling with an infant so we decided to opt for a hotel. We hadn’t made a booking in advance which could have ended very badly for us. We ended up driving around Noumea at night looking for a hotel – any hotel. Eventually we found a three star hotel and stopped there…. but quickly left when they wanted $180 per night! Luckily are aimless driving eventually took us to a hotel called Mocambo. It’s near Lemon Bay and we got a very large room with air con and wifi (and breakfast) for about $120 per night.
We stumbled upon Mocambo by accident but further research revealed it to actually be the cheapest hotel in the city.
Outside of Noumea your best bet will be guesthouses – unfortunately, none of these can be booked online in advance. We had to systematically phone them all – so brush up on your basic French skills.
Getting around New Caledonia
I very highly recommend renting a car. We rented a car for 12 days for about 200 euros. I don’t know if it was the cheapest or not because it was the only rental agency at the airport which had any cars left! (You should probably book *that* in advance as well). So we didn’t have to take any buses in New Caledonia – but I think they would be OK. However we noticed that as we went around the country all the cheapest guest houses were well away from the towns, meaning that getting there by public transport would be difficult at best.
Having a car meant we could stay at farm stays and campgrounds and save a bit of extra cash.
Eating in New Caledonia
Eating in New Caledonia is a fantastic experience! There are some pretty amazing French restaurants in Noumea. Even if you are on a tight budget, I recommend going to at least one nice restaurant in Noumea.
To save a bit of cash, go for lunch instead of dinner.
It’s easy to self cater in New Caledonia. It’s got all of the standard French chain supermarkets, including Carrefour. Our hotel didn’t have kitchen facilities but we had quite a few nice picnics with a baguette, french cheese, and fresh fruit.
Attractions in New Caledonia
We found that the only place we were paying entrance fees for attractions was in Noumea. There is a multi entry pass called the “Noumea pass”. This will get you into the major museums, the aquarium, and the zoo/botanical garden. It’s only a good deal if you are planning to visit the majority of these places.
As expensive as New Caledonia can be, at least the beaches are free. And there are some beautiful beaches! If you are only visiting Noumea but want to feel like you are really away from it all, then just hop on a water taxi to nearby Ile aux Canards. It was less than $20 for the two of us (and a baby) to cross to the island and back, and once over there we enjoyed soft sand and great snorkeling.