For our first trip to Hienghene, we stayed at Ka Waboana Lodge*. But when looking for accommodation for our second trip, we booked a room* at Koulnoue Village. Why did we make this choice and was it worth the extra money? I hope our experience choosing accommodation in Hienghene can help you plan your trip.
Why we decided to stay at Koulnoue Village
We had good memories of our night at Ka Waboana Lodge* when we first visited Hienghene. But our second trip to Hienghene was different, so we had a look at other options.
First, we were going there as a couple whereas we first went with family (two couples). With two couples, unless we chose a hut (a traditional house with one room and a bathroom in another building) at Koulnoue Village, we would have needed to book two rooms. It was increasing the budget a lot compared to the family bungalows at Ka Waboana.
For a couple, rooms at Koulnoue Village are still more expensive, but the difference isn’t as significant. Budget is, of course, important, but we had other criteria on our list that made us choose Koulnoue Village for our second trip:
- Our New Caledonia trip was organised at the last minute and at an uncertain time when international borders were just reopening, so we appreciated that it was very straightforward to book online with free cancellation* for a room at Koulnoue Village. The cancellation policy for Ka Waboana Lodge wasn’t easy to find.
- We were going scuba diving in Hienghene and were keen to stay as close as possible to the dive centre. Ka Waboana Lodge isn’t very far from the dive centre (about 15 minutes). But you quickly lose an hour commuting if, like us, you come back to the dive centre for other activities like kayaking. Staying with a tribe wasn’t convenient for going scuba diving (read more about the different types of accommodation in New Caledonia here).
- The reception of Koulnoue Village is open 24hrs. As we didn’t manage to get a sim card for this trip (the system of the only phone operator was down to register new customers), it was very convenient not to feel pressured by time.
Did Koulnoue Village meet our expectations?
We always find accommodation in New Caledonia a bit expensive for the level of service we get. We read a few negative reviews of Koulnoue Village (among positive ones!) just before our trip. But our stay at Koulnoue Village was aligned with what we expected after a few trips to New Caledonia. The location is fantastic and the rooms are comfortable. It’s not a luxurious hotel, but it’s the most luxurious you will find in Hienghene (or check the Hotel Tieti* in Poindimie if you want even better – see my review here).
It’s not particularly good value for money, but we didn’t feel it was too expensive for the space and view we got. Our room was clean and all the equipment worked fine. The staff was friendly. As often in New Caledonia, the breakfast was expensive for what you get, so I opted for biscuits and juices bought at the supermarket on our way north.
Our room had been recently refurbished and looked clean and modern. We didn’t have a close view of the ocean but we could still see it from our patio and had unobstructed views of nature and palm trees. Koulnoue Village is a big resort (50 bungalows and 10 huts) but once we were in our room, we felt pretty isolated.
We loved the proximity to the dive centre. It really made our days easier as we didn’t have to plan too much in advance. We could get back to our room in five minutes to grab food or more equipment when we wanted to go kayaking for example.
The different rooms at Koulnoue Village
There are four types of rooms at Koulnoue Village, all with sea views and WiFi connexion:
- Traditional huts: a room for 8 people (including single bunk beds) with shared bathrooms outside the hut.
- Bungalows: Our room was ideal for a couple. We had a small sofa with a coffee table, a patio with lounge chairs and a bathroom with toilets inside.
- Premium bungalows: The only difference with the other bungalows (in addition to the cost) is the refined decoration. We found the decoration in our bungalow was good enough so we weren’t keen on paying extra for a better-looking room.
- Bungalows with private swimming pool: this bungalow has a private swimming pool on the patio with sea views if you open the deck sliding doors.
Every bungalow has a private bathroom, air conditioning, a sofa, a TV, a mini-bar fridge, and a kettle. They advertise the bungalows can accommodate two adults and two children or three adults. I find it would be crowded with a second double bed in the room. As you can see in the pics below, there’s little space between the sofa and the bed so imagine once it’s open to create a bed. We once stayed as three adults but kept the sofa bed as a single bed, and it was a great deal.
The hut is very different and doesn’t have air conditioning (but it has a fan).
Facilities and things to do at Koulnoue Village
We stayed at Koulnoue Village off-season, so it was rather quiet. But the resort can get very busy during school holidays. With the beach at your doorstep and many activities within the resort, it’s a popular place for families.
The restaurant at Koulnoue Village was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner even if we were travelling off-season. Bookings were essential, but we could make the reservation quite late. As we were scuba diving and didn’t want to be stressed by timing with the restaurants, we brought a few snacks for lunch and only had dinners at the restaurant.
Overall, we were satisfied with the restaurant. Some dishes weren’t the best we’ve had (especially at that price) and you sometimes have to be quite patient with the service (which is often the case in New Caledonia). The main meals were quite expensive but with a very generous serving size. It was so big that we could not finish it, which never happens to me. The next evening, we only ordered entrees and the portion was big enough to feel full.
When we went again during a busier period, our only choice for dinner was a buffet. It was expensive, but there were many different foods to pick from and please everyone’s taste. We don’t normally eat a lot, so a buffet isn’t usually good value for us. I’m also always concerned about the risk of wasting food in this setup. Still, having a restaurant just a few steps from our room was very convenient.
There are many beautiful beaches near Hienghene. But if you prefer to get wet in a swimming pool, there’s a small one at Kounoue Village.
Sports and outdoor games
We didn’t have enough time in Hienghene to enjoy all the free activities in the resort. We much preferred to focus on the tourist experiences rather than sports. But if you feel like playing sports, you’ll find a tennis court, a basketball court, a badminton court, tennis tables and mini-golf at the resort.
There’s also a playground for kids and a petanque area for grown-ups.
Things to do in Hienghene
There are many things to do in Hienghene and I wrote a full article about it. Here’s an overview:
- Checking out the famous landmarks: Poule, Sphinx, Linderalique Cliffs
- Scuba diving and snorkelling
- Driving to La Ouaieme River and Tao Cascades
Where is Koulnoue Village in Hienghene?
Hienghene is in the North Province of the main island of New Caledonia, on the east coast. It takes about 5 hours to drive there from the capital Noumea, and it is one hour north of the biggest town on the east coast, Poindimie.
Koulnoue Village is just before the town of Hienghene, on the beach near the stunning Linderalique Cliffs.