Some things were not the way we expected them. Some things were different from what we have experienced in other Pacific Islands. It was difficult to get up to date information about New Caledonia when we were planning, and in some instances, the Lonely Planet was just… wrong. Oh so… wrong.
Things I wish I knew about New Caledonia before arriving….
1) Everything needs to be booked in advance
Easy to say, not so easy to do. How do you book in advance when none of the accommodation options have internet listings? All bookings need to be made over the phone. If you don’t speak French… well good luck.
On our first day in Noumea we went to the Tourist Information Office and were told they don’t have the budget to help book accommodation. Awesome. After two more days of trying to book accommodating in the North of the country we went back. Luckily there was another woman working who was VERY helpful and managed to find us somewhere to stay for the next week. (Olivia from the Tourist Office… you saved us!)
But the language barrier was not the only problem. There was another major problem… EVERYTHING WAS FULL. We called more than 10 places in one small town before we found availability somewhere. One place near Noumea told us they were booked out for the next three months, and the hostel in Noumea told us we had to book with them at least two weeks in advance. (You can’t do that online either…)
So yeah… everything needs to be booked in advance!
2) I mean it, everything needs to be booked in advance
We were barely even able ton rent a car from the airport when we arrived. So yeah… book in advance
3) The power points are NOT the same as Australia
They are the European style power points. End of story.
4) Bring your own snorkel gear
On other Pacific Islands we have visited you can rent snorkel gear from most beaches. Not here. Bring your own.
5) Things are not cheap
Things here are either as expensive as Australia, or more expensive than Australia. I will write a post soon about budget travel in New Caledonia, but you will have to adjust your concept of what “budget” is.