I remember seeing photos of friends who were travelling and those pictures made me decide to set off on my own adventure. I stepped out of my comfort zone and went travelling. It has been eight years since my decision to step onboard a cruise ship and start working on a boat.
During this period, I spent over 2,000 days on six different ships, visiting six continents. These travels afforded me incredible experiences and great friendships from all over the world. I know it sounds crazy but I loved it! Working and travelling at the same time is always a good idea.
Sometimes it can be hard travelling because you are far away from your family and friends. On the other hand, you get to visit destinations that you have never even heard of before or only ever dreamed about.
I bought my first professional camera after a few months of working and started capturing moments alongside my journeys. Every photo has a story to tell and because of this I started to write my own travel blog. I wanted to share my experiences out at sea since it’s such a special way of travelling.
Inspiration to Visit New Caledonia
New Caledonia was the biggest surprise to me during my Pacific Ocean cruising. I was not really sure about the itinerary until I had my final papers done to join the ship that goes to Australia. But this place was always on my bucket list and it left me speechless. I recommend everyone travel here.
Seeing photos and reading blogs about New Caledonia made me feel like I needed to see it with my own eyes. I would still like to go back as a tourist to experience the islands more. My last visit there was last year and sharing my photos on social media now makes me feel like it was yesterday.
A Beautiful Trip to New Caledonia
Usually, these cruises last for 10-12 days. It all depends on the itinerary. Mine was combined with other countries including New Caledonia. In New Caledonia we visited Noumea, Mare, Isle of Pines and Lifou but never visited all of these islands on the same cruise. We had a day at each place.
Our ship anchored in the morning at 6:30am and the first water shuttle was at 7am. We were back on board by 4pm most days. Sometimes I had the opportunity to enjoy being outside like the guests, sometimes not. It depended on my schedule but I tried to make the most of it.
That is why everyone thinks I travel full-time when they see my Instagram. It was partly true but I was working hard onboard as well. Most of the time, I stayed on the beach relaxing, reading or swimming. When I had more chances, I took some tours around New Caledonia with locals.
I loved the island tours – especially the ones with the viewpoints where you could see the breathtaking colours of the sea. In Noumea, I had at most a couple of hours to go onshore because of the training on our ship. I discovered an amazing french coffee shop in Noumea where I could relax.
My Favourite Place: Mare Island
I loved all of the islands in New Caledonia but Mare was a place that left a strong impression on me. In Mare, I took a small and informative tour with a local lady who talked about her life on the island. She showed us how they prepare one of their traditional foods called “bougna”.
Mare was also the island where I tried snorkelling for the first time. It was an awesome experience. After this adventure, I bought my own snorkel gear ready for my new hobby. Cruising is a special form of travelling – especially if go for six to eight months and see amazing places.
Top 10 Things To Do in New Caledonia
In my opinion, these are the top 10 things to do on the islands I visited:
- Snorkel at Jinek Bay (Lifou)
- Visit the Chapel of Notre Dame de Lourdes (Lifou)
- Hike up the Pic N’ga (Isle of Pines)
- Take a boat tour and swim with turtles (Isle of Pines)
- Walk to the beautiful Natural Aquarium (Mare)
- Relax and swim on the Yejele Beach (Mare)
- See a traditional village and find out how they live
- Enjoy the tropical flowers and exotic plants everywhere
- Join an island tour with a local
- Explore the local markets
I think New Caledonia has some of the most beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters in the world. This makes it almost impossible to leave. Due to the unique location of the country, its wildlife and natural beauty is unparalleled. It’s no coincidence that New Caledonia is a diver’s paradise.
Rich Culture of New Caledonia
New Caledonia’s original residents are known as Kanaks. This nation is a French territory and the French influence can be seen all over the island, especially in the capital Noumea. On every island you have the chance to take tours with locals. You can book excursions onboard or ashore.
Once I was in Mare and took a special tour with a local lady. I don’t know how I found the tour, as I had never heard about it before or after doing it. Anyhow, the tour lasted just a few hours but it was full of life. This young lady – who was our tour guide – gave us deep information about the island.
She showed us their traditional huts which architecturally represent the Kanak culture. There are no inhabited places on these islands which don’t have some type of Kanak hut. The huts are round in shape and are made from plant materials such as wood, straw and coconut palm.
We were allowed to enter inside and admire the huts. The other interesting aspect about the Kanak culture is how they prepare their traditional dish called “bougna” – a dish combining coconut milk with root vegetables.
Eclectic Cuisine on the Islands
New Caledonia offers visitors an eclectic mix of cuisines and local dishes. You can find French, Asian and Pacific gastronomy. As mentioned before, “bougna” is a traditional dish of the Kanak people. It’s certainly a must-try!
Potatoes and seafood (fish, crabs or crayfish) are marinated in coconut milk and then wrapped in banana leaves and baked in a special oven. If you are a seafood lover then you will love this dish. I also tried “bougna” with only vegetables and it was just as delicious as the seafood one.
When it comes to restaurants there are plenty of fantastic options. Along the beach, close to the pier where the water shuttle drops you off, there are some restaurants and small markets where you can try local dishes.
Need to Know Before you Go
New Caledonia is a French colony – so the national language is French. If you are a seafood-lover you will love this place. So fresh! For hiking, you will definitely need to bring some proper shoes. Since the hiking views are incredible, it will be worth packing extra gear. Trust me the views are epic!
Don’t forget sunscreen to protect you from the sun and convert money into New Caledonia’s currency – the CFP franc. Credit cards are widely accepted but it’s recommended to have cash with you at all times.
Looking back on my time in New Caledonia, it was one of the most epic experiences of my life. Travelling on a cruise ship and seeing new places is a dream come true. Swimming with turtles on the Isle of Pines, taking a local tour in Mare and exploring a cave in Lifou were some of my highlights.
Everyone needs to visit this hidden jewel of the Pacific Islands. Thanks for reading my travel guide on the beautiful New Caledonia. If you want to know more about travelling the world on a cruise ship, check out my blog!