Finding suitable accommodations in New Caledonia can be a challenging step when you’re organising your holidays. We regularly travel to New Caledonia and have learnt a few things about where to stay that I hope can help you with your trip planning.
I’ll first explain the different types of accommodations in New Caledonia (and why some are better than others). Then, I’ll mention where we stayed – and where we recommend staying! – in the different regions and islands of New Caledonia.
How long should you stay in New Caledonia?
It really depends on your availability, but I can guarantee you that you’ll never run out of things to do in New Caledonia. It’s actually tough to see everything in one go when visiting New Caledonia, for time and budget reasons. When organising your trip, keep in mind that locals live on island time, so take it easy and stay flexible with your plans.
You should stay for at least one week in New Caledonia to explore different locations in the stunning archipelago. But ideally, you’ll have even more time to take in the natural wonders, discover the local culture and relax. Remember that travelling between islands takes time, so it’s best to allow at least three days per island. Don’t try to cram too much into one day, as you’ll want to take your time and fully appreciate each destination. And a word of advice: don’t book activities on the day of travel, as flight delays are common in the region.
While you’ll want to check out the capital Noumea, especially as you’ll transit there to go to other places, I wouldn’t spend more than two days there unless you plan on taking a few day trips. For an unforgettable experience, don’t miss out on the Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands. And, if you’re looking for a hidden gem, check out the stunning northeast coast of the main island in Hienghene.
Types of accommodations in New Caledonia
From my experience travelling around New Caledonia, I find accommodations can be divided into four groups:
- Camping – the cheapest option by far but it’s very basic and you often need equipment;
- Traditional hut (often tribal homestays) – a basic room with multiple beds (or sometimes just mattresses on the ground) and bathrooms in another building;
- Bungalows/chalets/B&B – small accommodation lodges, guesthouses or tribal homestays with various levels of comfort but often modest with limited services;
- Hotels and resorts – bigger accommodation businesses close to what you’re used to in other tourist destinations.
There isn’t one type of accommodation better than the other as they all offer different experiences.
Of course, budget plays a role when you look for a place to stay. But it’s definitely not the only criteria that you should consider when looking for accommodations in New Caledonia. Sure, expensive accommodations in New Caledonia come with extra services, comfort or facilities. But you can sometimes get great experiences with stunning views for a cheaper price. So when you’re looking for accommodations in New Caledonia, your first questions – before talking about budget – to reduce your options should be:
- What kind of experience am I looking for?
- What level of comfort do I need? (think about air-con, shared bathroom, bathroom in the same building, mattress quality, safe box, wifi, tv…)
Let me describe our experience staying at the different types of accommodations to help you understand if it fits what you’d expect.
Hotels and resorts in New Caledonia – the easiest and most comfortable option
In my New Caledonia travel tips, I recommend avoiding hotels and resorts (outside Noumea). But during our last trip to New Caledonia, we actually only stayed in hotels. Why? Staying in a hotel or resort is by no doubt the easiest option to book accommodations in New Caledonia.
Having enough budget available for this trip is not what drove our choice to stay in hotels in New Caledonia.
This type of accommodation is particularly convenient as you can easily see availabilities online and book via the hotel website or a trusted third party like Booking.com* (which I recommend if you’re still unsure of your itinerary and dates as they often offer free cancellation, which wasn’t always clear on the hotels’ websites).
We had the budget to book hotels on our previous trips but preferred other options. However, with limited time on the island and for travel planning, hotels were the way to go for our third trip. We didn’t have time to dig for information and make phone calls. It only took a few clicks to find availabilities and book accommodation through Booking.com*.
During our holidays, we appreciated how everything went smoothly.
We were mostly checking out some of New Caledonia’s most famous scuba diving sites on that short trip, so staying at hotels was convenient. The reception was open late, so we appreciated that didn’t have to rush on the road or skip some activities. There was no fear in case we struggled to find the place or would arrive at the wrong time. We never had big issues at smaller lodges, but we trusted the reputation of these larger hotels, and it helped us not to worry about accommodation at all.
But we missed the authenticity and the connection with the culture and people of New Caledonia. We love chatting with locals. But when you stay at bigger hotels, your opportunity to chat with locals is rather limited. But most locals only speak French, so it might not be an important criteria for English-speakers!
Keep in mind the choice of hotels and resorts in New Caledonia is limited so you’d better book in advance if you’re travelling during the peak season. Hotels are often pricey compared to what you get in other destinations for the same budget. Indeed, the level of service in New Caledonia doesn’t meet what you would expect in 5-star hotels elsewhere. So if you’re used to luxurious accommodations, you should lower your expectations a bit to avoid being disappointed. These hotels and resorts are still the most luxurious accommodation options when travelling in New Caledonia (scroll down to see a list of the ones we stayed at).
Traditional huts and tribal homestays – the most authentic accommodations in New Caledonia
Tribal homestays are often a lot cheaper than hotels, but budget is not the reason why you should select this type of accommodation in New Caledonia. If you’re interested in learning more about the local culture and looking for authenticity, a tribal homestay is the best choice. But you’ll face strong language barriers if you don’t speak French.
The challenge will start from the booking phase. You often have to call them on their mobile (they call it Mobilis) to confirm availability for your dates and make the booking. If you get the right person at the right time on your first call, you’re very lucky! Communication can be complicated (even for French speakers), and they sometimes don’t follow the booking procedures we’re used to.
If you’re travelling as a group (where finding a plan B is challenging), it can be stressful not to have a written confirmation. When we were in this situation, we booked through a travel agent hoping we’d receive help if there was an issue and that they selected the people they worked with for their reliability.
The level of comfort and amenities are often unclear. But they’re always pretty basic. Don’t expect air-con for example, but some places will have a fan. You don’t always have electricity in the room, and the bathroom is often in a separate building. So if you like to travel in style, tribal homestays are not the best options.
Responsible travel tip: Think about spending your money with local businesses when you travel, like choosing locally owned accommodations or eating at a locally-owned restaurant. Your money will support the local community and often a more sustainable development of the destination.
Bungalows and chalets in lodges – the best value-for-money accommodations in New Caledonia
Bungalows and chalets often seem like the best value-for-money option when looking for accommodations in New Caledonia. Locals run these small businesses that offer a few rooms, often with shared amenities and a dinner option. The comfort isn’t as good as in a hotel or resort room, but the price is affordable. If you have time to organise your trip, you should definitely look into it. But be aware that there are some gems but also some disappointing surprises. It’s important to check the recent reviews you can find online as descriptions on tourist information websites can be outdated.
We mostly had good experiences staying at lodges in New Caledonia. The Beauvoisin Lodge in the north of Ouvea left us with great memories of the lovely accommodation but also the delicious meals and the interesting chats with our hosts. We had a comfortable stay and enjoyed the river views from Les Ignames de Nevaho near Poindimie and Ka Waboana in Hienghene, if you’re looking for alternatives from the reputed hotels (Hotel Tieti* and Koulnoue Village*).
When we travelled as a group during the peak season, we again asked a local travel agent to help with the smaller lodges that would not offer online booking or email enquiries. It saved us heaps of time
Camping – the cheapest accommodations in New Caledonia
We never picked this option for accommodation in New Caledonia so I cannot share many tips or my firsthand experience. But keep in mind camping in New Caledonia is nothing like camping in Australia for example. It’s the cheapest accommodation in New Caledonia for a reason! But if you love the outdoors, don’t need much comfort and want to be connected with nature, it may be a good option for you.
We visited a few camping grounds while doing other activities in the North Province. They were always very basic with the minimum amenities, but often with fantastic sea views. You would leave your car in the car park and pitch your tent a bit further in the available space (sometimes with no defined sites). There was no kitchen, but a small table with a roof for all visitors to share. Some camping grounds are more equipped than others (better amenities, kitchen, access to electricity – but I’ve never seen it at the site) and provide a few services (such as transfer or food).
Also, it’s always a good idea to set up your tent in the shade, but remember coconut trees can be hazardous!
Where we stayed in New Caledonia
If you’re looking for tips about where to stay in New Caledonia, I’ve written below some recommendations, mostly based on the accommodations we visited. I’ve also included tips from friends who stayed at different hotels.
We never stayed for too long in Noumea. There’s nothing wrong with the town, but I find everywhere else in New Caledonia more interesting to visit. Also, hotels in Noumea are expensive for what they offer. Most of them are getting quite old but still, the prices keep rising every time we visit. As we’re rarely there for more than one night, we don’t have a go-to hotel when we arrive in New Caledonia. We often pick the best online deal we find, so we’ve tried a few hotels in Noumea:
- Hotel Beaurivage* is one of our top choices in Noumea, with a 24-hour reception. Our room was comfy, and we enjoyed the beautiful sea view. Even though the road between the hotel and the beach can get pretty busy, the window did a good job of blocking out the noise. It might be more challenging if you’re staying there during the weekend. Having a restaurant downstairs was super convenient since we got there late in the day and had to leave early the next morning.
- The Gondwana City Art* is another good choice for a comfortable room if you don’t want to pay extra for sea views. They have a 24-hour reception, but make sure you keep them updated about your arrival time if your evening flight is delayed. They serve breakfast in a lovely green patio. It’s very close to Noumea’s port, which is ideal if you have a cruise planned for the next day (such as a day trip to Ilot Signal, for example).
- If you’re travelling as a group, we found Hilton La Promenade in Anse Vata* apartments cheaper than booking three bedrooms elsewhere. We had stunning views and a lot of extra space (living room, balcony, kitchen) in one of the most touristy areas in Noumea.
- The Ramada* is not far from the Hilton and also offers sea views, but they’re not as good, and the room isn’t as spacious. We found it quite expensive for a couple. However, if you can find a good online deal or get an upgrade, it can be an interesting option.
- We often find good deals for Le Pacific / Nouvata*, which can be quite convenient for our first night in Noumea. Flights from Brisbane arrive late at night, so their 24-hour reception removed all stress from being delayed. We had a room with a view, but the building was old and unsuitable for light sleepers: we could hear our neighbour snore!
- If you have a car and want a quieter zone, Le Stanley* has big suites with sea views a bit out of the town centre. It was ideal to pack our stuff before going back home.
The best hotels in Noumea
If you’re staying in Noumea for a bit longer and don’t mind the premium price, you can stay in the only overwater bungalows in New Caledonia at the Double Tree by Hilton Ilot Maitre Resort*. We liked the idea of spotting turtles from our deck with unbeatable views of the lagoon. But we opted for a sailing experience around the islands near Noumea and didn’t have time to actually stay at the resort itself. Here are a couple of photos from my friends who stayed there for their last night in New Caledonia:
If you prefer to stay in town, I recommend having a look at Le Meridien Resort*. I did not stay there but heard good comments about it. It looks more modern than all the hotels we stayed at in Noumea, and it would certainly be on my list if we were in Noumea for longer than one night.
Isle of Pines
On the Isle of Pines, the lack of availability drove our choice of accommodations. We travelled there during the peak season and needed to book rooms for six adults. The two reputed hotels on the island, Le Meridien* and Oure Tera* were booked out. But we did visit Oure Tera* for birthday celebrations and have excellent memories of this dinner.
We opted for the lodge Relais Kuberka* and our family went to Nataiwatch Lodge*. Although there was nothing wrong with these two accommodations, they didn’t make our stay particularly special. The rooms are quite basic, but clean and had everything we needed. They both also had restaurants on site (I much preferred the food at Nataiwatch) and the beach was within walking distance.
If you like hotels and resorts, you’ll be happy to find two great options in Ouvea: Hotel Le Beaupre* and Hotel Paradis d’Ouvea*. They’re your best options if you don’t hire a car as they will help you find activities. You can also hire bikes there.
We had a totally different experience in Ouvea as we stayed in a small lodge in a tribe in the north of the island. We loved the experience at Beauvoisin and the exchange we had with Marc and his family. The meals were delicious – we could even taste a local bougna – and the room and amenities were well-maintained. However, your interactions will be limited if you don’t speak French.
We also once stayed at Les Cocotiers Lodge* (meaning coconut lodge) in the south of the island, near Mouli. I wouldn’t particularly recommend it. It was good value for money for a group of six but very basic. Unfortunately, the hosts weren’t really welcoming, and the meals weren’t exciting.
However, Mouli is a fantastic place, and I’d recommend staying there if you don’t have a car. You won’t be able to visit the north of Ouvea, but you won’t be far from all the best things to see in the south of the island. It’s where the Hotel Paradis d’Ouvea* is located.
In Lifou, we stayed in a family hut at Lilo Reve, with shared amenities in a separate building. It was really good value for a group. Although they did not offer dinner or wifi there at the time (things may have changed!), we found everything we needed at a nearby restaurant. We didn’t connect a lot with the hosts, but they were still welcoming and helpful.
Our time in Lifou was limited, so we decided to focus on the north of the island. If you prefer more standard accommodation and would like to explore the south, there are a few hotels in Lifou*. They’re even developing new luxury ones that didn’t exist when we travelled to the Loyalty Islands. I hope to visit them one day.
Mare is a small island with limited accommodation options. You won’t find any resort or hotel there.
We had a fantastic stay at Seday Guesthouse in our very special hut on a rock. We had fantastic interactions with people from the local tribe and even got invited to the mass the next day. However, I don’t think you’d get such a meaningful experience if you don’t speak French. But you’ll still be able to enjoy the beauty of the island.
Our night in Bourail was part of our last-minute trip to New Caledonia. As we had a few hours to relax in the afternoon and would spend the rest of the week on the coast, we chose Betikure Parc Lodge* for its tranquillity and lovely inland views. We loved it, and we’ll choose it again next time we travel to Bourail. You can read my review here.
If you prefer to stay closer to the beach, you may like the Sheraton Hotel* in Bourail.
North Province (Hienghene, Poindimie)
We went twice to Hienghene. The first time, we were four adults, so we opted for a big bungalow at Ka Waboana Lodge*, in Hienghene. It was convenient and comfortable. However, keep in mind they’re closed on Sundays.
The second time, we were scuba diving with Babou Cote Ocean, so we chose the hotel that was the closest to the dive shop, Koulnoue Village* (photos below – read my review here). It’s a large resort with many facilities and a big bar and restaurant. We had a comfortable and worry-free stay. The restaurants and the rooms have sea views. However, the views aren’t as good as the ones from the Hotel Tieti* in Poindimie.
We also went twice to Poindimie, both mainly for scuba diving with Tieti Diving. The first time in 2016, we didn’t stick around after our dive and stayed 20 kilometres south of town at Les Ignames de Nevaho, in a simple bungalow with lovely views of the river and the valley from the patio. It was interesting to meet with local people, but the experience would be different if you don’t speak French.
The second time, we didn’t have any plans after diving, so we indulged ourselves in a little luxury and booked a room on the beach at Hotel Tieti*. It was beautiful both inside and outside. It has been so far our favourite hotel/resort in New Caledonia. You can read my review here for more details.