How to visit Noumea, New Caledonia, with kids. The cosmopolitan capital city of New Caledonia has plenty to offer for a short stay for families. Beaches, water sports and an eclectic mix of Pacific Islanders, French expats and tourists make this little city an easy and enjoyable break before you head off to the more remote areas of the country for that picture postcard tropical getaway. The city particularly comes alive when the cruise ships come in and suddenly all the little shops and eateries that looked so closed and abandoned open their doors and are filled with music, people and laughter.
The Attractions in Noumea for Kids
One of the best family tourist attractions in Noumea for kids is the
aquarium. Aquarium Des Lagons is extremely impressive and definitely a must visit.
For what seems like a small and unassuming space there is actually a really varied and interesting display of all types of marine life from sea worms to giant sea turtles to a fantastic and fun glow-in-the-dark section.
Look out for the fish feeding sessions (held in French) where you can see the fish being fed broccoli (yes, really!) and the indoor play area towards the end of the aquarium.
Probably the most famous and popular beach in Noumea is Baie des Citrons. This has the feel of a city beach rather than some remote long stretch of nature – it can be quite crowded, the strip of sand is pretty thin and the shops and buildings are built right up to the beach. Still, the kids will enjoy playing here and its proximity to the city means there are plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes within walking distance. The beach is also patrolled by lifeguards and you’ll see lots of other families spending their holidays in Noumea too.
Noumea’s best kept hidden secret is actually Anse de Kuendu beach. Head over here and there are practically no tourists – just locals taking the day off work cooking freshly caught fish on open fires right on the beach. This flat sandy beach has gorgeous clear and warm water and you can spot plenty of fish, jellyfish and sea snails.
Another big bonus is Anse de Kuendu beach is located at Kuendu Beach Resort so you can order food at their over-water café, there are toilets and there is even a (tired looking) waterslide park. You will need a car to access Anse de Keundu.
A more central kid friendly beach is Anse Vata Beach right near the Hilton Noumea. The water is also quite flat here so the children can easily swim and play but the “sand” is really more shells and coral so you will need to wear reef shoes. As such it’s probably not such a good beach for sitting for long periods of time building sandcastles. You will be able to do lots of kitesurfing though; boards can be rented from the vans right alongside the beach.
On the grass you’ll see people playing bocci and sometimes there are markets selling local crafts and snack foods.
For more of a tropical island getaway experience rather than a city beach holiday, take a day trip out to Duck Island. Ile Aux Canards is a short 5 minute boat ride from Anse Vata Beach and here you will find white sands, snorkelling and more beach sports. Take the ferry boat from the dock on Anse Vata Beach.
For a different way to get your bearings around Noumea with kids, book your spot on the Tchou Tchou Train Tour. These kitschy tours are surprisingly popular especially during peak times (when the cruise ships come into Noumea) so you will need to book early (a few days in advance) to get a seat.
Family Friendly Restaurants in Noumea For Kids
Most of the restaurants in Noumea are really catered to tourists so everywhere is pretty family friendly. Even fine dining restaurants, such as Le Roof Restaurant, cater well to children.
In fact, Le Roof, with its over-water position, is a fantastic place to take the kids for dinner. As the sun goes down the restaurant turns its lights on to the water to attract the fish. You can see the fish from you table whether you are inside or outside and they will give the kids stale bread to do some fish feeding. Sometimes dolphins can be spotted from the restaurant too.
Just keep in mind that Le Roof is a fine dining restaurant – with prices to match (even for the kids meals).
At the opposite end of the spectrum is Quick, a fast food chain selling burgers, chicken strips and churros. If your kids need a break from the heat, this eatery (conveniently located right outside the aquarium) is a good option as it boasts a huge indoor playground.
Family Friendly Accommodation in Noumea for Kids
Le Meridien Noumea has a private beach (an extension of Anse Vata Beach), large resort-style pool and a large playground making it a highly desired location for a family vacation in Noumea with kids. There are bikes available (including electric ones) so you can explore the rest of Noumea on your own pedal power if you chose.
Hilton Noumea La Promenade Residences offers more of a serviced apartment style stay. Instead of direct access to the beach it is a short walk and the pool is more hotel style than resort. However the apartments are spacious with fantastic views over Anse Vata Beach – from here you can easily walk to the aquarium in one direction or Le Roof restaurant in the other. They also come with a full kitchen and laundry.
The Practicalities of Noumea With Kids
Noumea is a small enough city that it’s easy to navigate and it’s well
maintained so you can push your stroller almost anywhere. Because it is small
it is probably somewhere to stopover for two to three days on your way
elsewhere rather than a destination in itself. This is especially true because
while the city beaches are great fun, there are other more pristine and
picturesque beaches to be found elsewhere in the country.
New Caledonia has strict quarantine laws and you will not be able to bring fresh foods in on the plane with you. You may not be able to bring in baby formula or pre-pumped breast milk either – declare it on your quarantine form but there is the possibility that it may be confiscated.
If you have a hire car, the Carrefour supermarket is a short drive away and here you can get a lot of Western style groceries and supplies.
New Caledonia has a distinctly continental European feel to it and, therefore, the prices to match. Expect to pay European prices (some places will even quotes prices in Euros!).