New Caledonia

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WorldSouth PacificNew Caledonia

An online cruising guide for yachts sailing to New Caledonia.

New Caledonia
18°31.276'S, 166°40.788'E Chart icon.png
Capital Nouméa
Language French
Currency CPF Franc (XPF)
Time zone (UTC+11)
Calling code +687
Small info.png Latest News
7th August 2011 - Violence in Mare (Loyalty Islands) over airline prices has resulted in 4 deaths. See Reuters article for details.

4th March 2012 - Strong quake hits New Caledonia, no tsunami alert. A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit south-east of the Loyalty Islands in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia late Saturday but there was no tsunami alert.

New Caledonia, a French overseas territory, is situated North of the Tropic of Capricorn, between 20 and 22 degrees latitude South and 164 and 167 degrees longitude East. It comprises the main island of Grande Terre which includes the capital Noumea, the Isle of Pines, the Loyalty Islands: Mare, Lifou, Ouvea and Tiga and the Belep Islands. New Caledonia also administers the Chesterfield Reefs which lie approximately 300 miles to the west and the D'Entrecasteaux Reefs which are about 100 miles to the north. New Caledonia is surrounded by one of the largest lagoons in the world.

New Caledonia's population of 250,000 people is very diverse. Around 44% are the indigenous Kanak people, 34% are European, many of the remainder are from other Pacific islands and there is a small group of people of Indonesian descent. The latter group are, to some extent, the result of people from Java coming to New Caledonia to work in the mining industry during the first half of the 20th Century.

A significant portion of the New Caledonian lagoon is now a World Heritage site, listed for its diversity and stunning natural beauty. The UNESCO website provides a lot of information and details.

New Caledonia is dominated by a very large nickel mining industry. It is the worlds third largest producer of this metal. While this can have a negative impact on the landscape, it also results in significant commercial maritime traffic involved in transporting the mineral ores. The upshot of this is a well maintained system of bouyage and markers and excellent charting of the whole country. Unlike many other Pacific countries, GPS and electronic charts (with a few exceptions) can be relied on for accuracy.

New Caledonia is often the last stopping point for cruising vessels crossing the Pacific prior to heading on to Australia. As a result, it is often late in the season when boats arrive and most crews are keen to move on to Australia as soon as a weather window opens. Those boats that stay a little longer often confine their cruising to the area around Noumea, with the slightly more adventurous heading down to Baie de Prony and, if weather allows, the Isle of Pines. These are excellent cruising destinations, but there are many other areas around New Caledonia that are worth visiting.

The surrounding barrier reef, combined with a large number of good anchorages means that it is possible to sail in relatively sheltered waters around almost the entirety of Grande Terre, including the Isle of Pines and the Belep islands and this can be done without an overnight passage unless you wish to go out to the Loyalty Islands. The high quality of the charting throughout the islands and the well maintained system of navigation markers makes this a safe and enjoyable exercise.

Once you leave Noumea, the availability of services falls off dramatically. Koumac in the far NW of Grande Terre is one of the few places where a good range of services (including a small marina) is available.

The SE Trade winds blow consistently along both the east and west coasts of Grande Terre. This means a trip northwards up either coast is a quite straight forward downwind run. For the trip from the north of the island back to Noumea, you need a good windward boat or plenty of diesel. Traveling the west coast, there is a section of about 80 nm which requires you to be outside the reef, though never for more than 30 nm between good anchorages. The east coast is navigable for its entire length inside the reef.

Refilling gas bottles can be an issue in New Caledonia. Gas is widely available around the country, either through refills or swap bottles, but only for bottles with French fittings. It is very difficult to find a source of refills for bottles with other fittings. In 2010, Noumea Yacht Services, a business based on the edge of Port Moselle, next to the Market, refilled bottles by the process of draining a local bottle into the bottle you provide. This process was very slow and cost 5000 cfp for a 9 kg bottle, but was a very useful service if you had no other choice. An alternative would be to obtain new fittings and use local bottles.

Good quality drinking water is readily available in Noumea and most other centres. It can generally be used without any treatment.

While you will often find people who speak English around Noumea, once you get away from the city, it really helps to speak some French if you want to mix with the locals.


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Just right for cruising!

The climate is moderate tropical - cooled by the Pacific Ocean and the Trade Winds. It is a warm and sunny climate, with two seasons: warm and humid (November to April) with average temperatures from 25° to 27° and cool and dry (May to September) with average temperatures from 20° to 23°. Rainfall is heavy during the warm season, with passages of tropical depressions and sometimes cyclones.

The cyclone season is considered to be mid-November to mid / late-April. Cyclones can and do occur outside this period, but this is the most dangerous time.

Local forecasts are, of course, in French, but non-French speakers should find them relatively easy to understand. A very useful vocabulary can be found at How to Understand French Weather Forecasts for Sailors.

The main source of weather information for the area around New Caledonia is Meteo France Nouvelle-Calédonie. The marine section provides a 6 day forecast for the whole region, with details for each of the passes through the barrier reef.

Nouméa radio broadcasts the weather report in French on VHF 16, everyday at 6:30, 9:30, 15:15, 18:30.

There is a set of repeater channels allowing receipt of weather info anywhere in the country:

  • Nouméa area: VHF 26
  • Southern portion of the Grande Terre: VHF 28
  • Isle of Pines and the southern lagoon: VHF 25
  • Grande Terre North west coast: VHF 25
  • Northern portion of Grande Terre: VHF 24
  • Ouvea: VHF 23
  • Lifou: VHF 26
  • Maré: VHF 87
The Bay of Turtles on New Caledonia's west coast.



This section does not apply for many islands, remove it if this is the case for this particular. You may, however, list ismall islands adjacent to this one or list one or two of its neighbors.

For islands that have their own page list them as shown below.

  • [[Island1]]
  • [[Island2]]


Add here VHF channel for coastguard, harbor masters. etc.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets


New Caledonia uses IALA Maritime Bouyage System A.


Up to date information can be found at the New Caledonian Customs website. Note that this website is French only.


All yachts arriving in New Caledonia should proceed to Port Moselle. All entry formalities are only handled in Nouméa. Stopping or anchoring is not permitted anywhere in New Caledonian territorial waters before having done the entry formalities. However, vessels arriving after dark are permitted to anchor in the authorized anchorages outside the entrance to the Port Moselle Marina until the Marina re-opens. Call on Channel 67. The courtesy flag and the yellow flag (letter Q) should be hoisted when entering into New Caledonian waters. The yellow flag should be kept hoisted until the completion of the formalities.

The Immigration and Quarantine will come to your boat to check you in. Customs has 2 hours in which to come to your boat after which no Customs declaration need be done.


At the time of this writing (Oct'10) you cannot check in or check out from Lifou any more. On departure you have to visit three offices in Noumea: Customs, Immigration, and (lastly) the Port Captain, bringing the usual papers. This takes a couple of hours. The office at Port Moselle will provide you a map and it is a reasonable walk from there. The important thing to note is that the Port Captain closes at 1100 so it is best to start the process early. You have three days after your stated departure date in which to exit New Caledonia; this gives you time to visit the Loyalty Islands for a day or two or wait for a weather change. There is no longer a special permit required to stop in the Loyalties.

Duty free fuel is available but you have to get a paper from Customs when you check-out and you must specify how many liters of petrol and diesel you want, so over-estimate the amount you think you need. Duty free shopping is available in town with your check-out papers, including alcohol.

Customs and Immigration

The maximum authorised length of stay for a yacht is six months. For individuals a 3 month non-renewable visa is given. Ask for the maximum stay even if you plan to leave before that. For more information, contact the Customs Service.

The importation of all animals, plants and products of animal or vegetable origin into New Caledonia is strictly forbidden. Exceptions, particularly as regards cats and dogs, may be made by applying to the "Service Vétérinaire et de la Protection des Végétaux", BP 256, Noumea.

Upon arrival all animals, vegetables and derived products must be declared.

Inward Mail

Send incoming parcels and mail to:

Captainerie de Port Moselle
6 Rue Fregate Nivose
B.P. 2960 - 98846 Noumea Cedex

Tel: (687) 277197
Fax: (687) 277129

Priority Mail from USPS can take 3 weeks to be delivered. Yachts in Transit do not pay duty. If you are expecting a package you may need the Customs Clearance document which you receive on checking in.


An entry visa is required for certain nationalities - please enquire at French Consulates or Embassies beforehand. The permitted length of stay varies according to the type of visa.

French nationals must present a valid passport (not simply I.D.). The passport must be valid 6 months after the date of return. For foreign nationals wishing to stay a short time in New Caledonia, passports should be valid for six months from the date of arrival. The same applies for long-stay visas. Nationals of the following countries do not require a visa to enter New Caledonia for a period not exceeding three months: Germany, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Cyprus, Malta, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Portugal, St Marin, St Siège (Vatican), Sweden, Switzerland.

No extension can be granted beyond the three months maximum stay in New Caledonia.

Nationals of the following countries do not require a visa to enter New Caledonia for a period not exceeding one month: Argentina, Bermuda, Brunei (Bandar), Canada, Chile, South Korea, Croatia, United States, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Uruguay.

No extension can be granted beyond the one month maximum stay in New Caledonia.

Direction de la Réglementation et de l’Administration Générale
BP C5 - 98848 Nouméa Cedex
Ph: (687) 26 63 00 - Fax: (687) 27 28 28

Health and Security

Medical services are of a high standard in New Caledonia and this is reflected in the general health of the population.

There is reported to be no malaria, cholera or yellow fever in the territory.

Note that mosquitoes transmit Dengue Fever and this is present across the country.

Gendarmes have a presence in most centres and maintain a high profile.

The military presence that was conspicuous in the 80's has reduced considerably as the troubles of that time subsided.


Red Mud in the Mining Areas.

Ports of Entry

Northern Lagoon

East Coast

West Coast

South Coast and Lagoon

Loyalty Islands


List transportation to other countries, etc.


Submit details/contacts of cruiser's "friends" that can be contacted in advance or on arrival - who can offer information and assistance to our cruising "family".


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


References & Publications

  • Joel Marc, Marc Rambeau and Ross Blackman, Cruising Guide to New Caledonia, Savannah Editions, ISBN 2-9508530-2-1 - This guide is available in both French and English. It has not been updated for a long time, but is still useful. A digital version is available, but very expensive
  • Damien Faugerolles, Bernard Suprin, and Miriam Schwamm, Le Globe-Trotter, Éd. Allure, 2012, ISBN 9782953840520 - This comprehensive tourism booklet is an excellent reference. It provides details of all population centres and tourist attractions. It includes details of the local markets around the whole country. This is particularly useful if you are cruising away from Noumea and wish to restock on fresh food. In 2010, this booklet was only available in French, but there were plans to publish an English version. Look for it at any tourist office
  • Leanne Logan and Susannah Farfor, Lonely Planet - South Pacific, Lonely Planet, 5th Edition, Oct 2012, ISBN 9781741797749 - has an extensive section on New Caledonia and is well worth having on board.


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