Cruise Port Noumea: What To Know And Best Things To Do

Find out all you need to know about visiting the cruise port Noumea. No matter which cruise line you are traveling with I will let you know all about visiting including top tips, how to get around, and the best shore excursions.


Noumea is the capital and largest city of New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the South Pacific Ocean. It is also one of the most popular cruise destinations in the region, offering a unique blend of European and Melanesian cultures, modern amenities, and natural attractions.

This is why I have decided to write a guide on the Cruise Port Noumea.

Many cruise ships stop in Noumea when exploring the South Pacific. The country has plenty of incredible islands with beautiful lagoons and relaxing vibes which will really get you into the holiday spirit. Though Noumea is much more of a cosmopolitan city, one that you actually need to plan and book an excursion if you are to make the most of your stop at the cruise port Noumea.

Nevertheless, that is why I am here. Strap in as I let you know all there is about the cruise port Noumea, such as top tips, how to get around, and the different shore excursions you may want to book.

This is why you can make the most out of your time here and continue having an incredible holiday.


watching the beautiful sunset as we depart from the noumea cruise port
watching the beautiful sunset as we depart from the noumea cruise port

Why Do All Cruises Visit Noumea

Now if I am being 100% honest Noumea is a lot of people less favorite cruise port in New Caledonia, including myself. This is simply because it isn’t the most beautiful port surrounded by container ships, and you will need to actually book something here in order to make your stay worthwhile.

Also being the capital it isn’t too exciting of a port unless you enjoy city life. Honestly, most people recommend shore excursions here which will actually take you off the mainland, and onto one of the small neighboring islands, and I couldn’t agree more.

So if the best thing to do at the cruise port Noumea is to leave, why do the cruise ships even visit here?

Well, there are two separate answers to this question. The first is that you can experience the history, beautiful landscapes as well as the diverse culture. The second, and more likely reasonable answer is the agreement between New Caledonia and the cruise companies.

Basically, the supposed agreement is that the ships must visit Noumea if they want to make stops at the islands in the country. This means the capital gets extra funds from tourism stimulating the economy. I mean it is easy enough to pull up at one of the islands like Lifou, Isle of Pins, or Mare and just enjoy the day at the beach and spend absolutely nothing.

Though in Noumea you for sure will need to book something. Whether this is a shore excursion or transport around.

Also, it is said that the positioning of Noumea makes it the perfect first stop from Australia or New Zealand in terms of distance. Not sure how much truth there is to this but yes.

Personally, the cruise port Noumea was my least favorite stop. However, I would visit again and do it differently next time by booking one of the shore excursions which actually take me off the mainland.

playing in the shallow waters of baie des citrons
playing in the shallow waters of baie des citrons
hanging out at the beach in noumea
hanging out at the beach in noumea

Top Tips For Cruisers In Noumea

Now if you are a first-time visitor to the cruise port Noumea here are some helpful tips so you can make the most out of your visit:

  • The boat actually docks at the cruise port Noumea which means you can easily just walk on and off. Most of the time in the islands you will need a tender to get to shore so docking is quite the luxury.
  • Noumea has a tropical climate with warm and humid weather all year round. The average temperature is around 25°C, but it can vary depending on the season and the wind. You should pack light and breathable clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and insect repellent. You should also bring a rain jacket or umbrella, as Noumea can experience sudden showers or storms.
  • Noumea uses the CFP franc as its currency, which is pegged to the euro. You can use your credit card at most places, but some small shops or markets might only accept cash. Being a cruise a lot of the smaller islands will take your home currency of NZD or AUD, though since Noumea is a capital city a lot of places will only accept CFP.
  • Noumea is a French-speaking city, and although many locals can speak some English, they will appreciate it if you try to speak their language. You don’t need to be fluent, but learning some basic phrases like “bonjour” (hello), “merci” (thank you), “s’il vous plait” (please), and “au revoir” (goodbye) can go a long way. You can also use a translation app or a phrasebook to help you communicate.
  • Noumea is a multicultural city with French, Kanak, Asian, and Pacific Islander influences. You should respect the local culture and traditions, and avoid any behavior that might be considered rude or offensive. For example, you should not touch or point at someone’s head, as it is considered sacred by the Kanak people. You should also dress modestly when visiting religious sites or villages, and ask for permission before taking photos of people or places.
  • It’s good to note that Noumea is a popular port of call for many cruise lines, and some of the best attractions and activities can be booked quickly. You can either book your shore excursions through your cruise line or independently online. You can also find some local tour operators at the cruise terminal, but they might charge higher prices or have limited availability.
  • Lastly if your ship docks at the cruise port in Noumea on a Sunday you need to be aware that a lot of popular things to do in the capital will be closed. Therefore you should definitely book a shore excursion to one of the nearby islands to make the most out of the day.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize a lot of the above before arriving by cruise ship in Noumea. We got caught in the rain, found that the market wouldn’t accept our AUD or NZD, and were there on a Sunday when a lot of things we closed. We ended up doing our hop-on hop-off tour rather fast as there weren’t too many places open then headed back to the boat to enjoy some peace and mostly empty swimming pools.

leaving noumea during sunset with a couple tug boats following us
leaving noumea during sunset with a couple tug boats following us
views from our cruise ship, the carnival spirit, while at the cruise port noumea
views from our cruise ship, the carnival spirit, while at the cruise port noumea

How To Get Around Noumea

Cruise visitors who want to explore Noumea have several options for transportation, depending on their preferences and budget.


Tchoo Tchoo Discovery Train

The Tchoo Tchoo Discovery Train is a fun and easy way to explore the city of Noumea. It is a small train that runs on wheels and takes you to the main attractions and landmarks of the city.

You can enjoy the views of the beautiful bays, beaches, and hills, as well as the colonial architecture and cultural heritage of Noumea. It has a guide who provides commentary in several languages, including English, French, Japanese, and Spanish.

The train departs from Anse Vata Bay, near the Mary D agency, and stops at the Ouen Toro lookout point, where you can see the stunning panorama of the city and the lagoon. Then, it continues to the Cote Blanche, a popular spot for walking and jogging along the waterfront.

Next, it goes to Faubourg Blanchot, where you can admire the old residential buildings and colonial houses that date back to the 19th century. Finally, it arrives at Coconut Square, where you have 30 minutes to explore the city center, visit the market, or buy some souvenirs.

The whole tour lasts about two hours and you can book your tickets though your cruise line providers shore excursions. The prices are relatively cheap at around $35 for adults and $30.00 for children.


Hop On Hop Off Bus

One of the best ways to explore Noumea is by taking the Hop On Hop Off Bus, a convenient and flexible service that allows you to visit the main attractions of the city at your own pace.

The Hop On Hop Off Bus has seven stops around Noumea, covering the most interesting and scenic areas. You can start your tour at any of the stops, and hop on and off as many times as you like with just one ticket. The buses run every 20 minutes, so you never have to wait long for the next one. The ticket is valid for a full day, giving you plenty of time to see everything you want.

The stops include:

Cruise Ship Terminal: This is where most cruise ship passengers arrive and depart from Noumea. It is also a good place to find information, souvenirs, and local products.

City Market: This is where you can experience the vibrant and colorful local culture of Noumea. You can browse through stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, seafood, handicrafts, and more.

Port Plaisance: This is where you can enjoy the views of the marina and the bay. You can also find some shops, cafes, and restaurants here.

Baie des Citrons: This is one of the most popular beaches in Noumea, where you can relax on the white sand, swim in the clear water, or try some water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, or stand-up paddle boarding.

Anse Vata Bay: This is another beautiful beach in Noumea, where you can admire the views of the lagoon and the islands. You can also visit the Aquarium des Lagons, which showcases the amazing marine life of New Caledonia. From here you can also take a boat ride to Duck Island.

Route De L’Aquarium: This is where you can catch a glimpse of some of the historical landmarks of Noumea, such as the old prison, the old hospital, and the old cemetery.

Musée de Nouvelle Calédonie: This is where you can learn more about the history and culture of New Caledonia. You can see exhibits displaying artifacts, costumes, weapons, tools, musical instruments, and more from various indigenous groups. You can also see some contemporary artworks by local artists. Tickets cost $9.70 / $15.00 AUD and can be purchased at the booths once you catch the free shuttle from the ship.

driving past the harbor at the cruise port noumea
driving past the harbor at the cruise port noumea

Beach Express

The Beach Express is a shuttle service that operates between Anse Vata Beach and the city center of Noumea. It is a convenient and affordable way to enjoy the beautiful beach and the vibrant city life.

The Beach Express runs every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs $6.50 per person for a one-way trip. You can buy your tickets on board. You can also take a water taxi to Duck Island for just a couple of dollars more, where you can see more marine life and coral reefs.

looking for the ship over the container yard while at port, spot the shuttles at the right hand corner which will take you from the ship to the entry
looking for the ship over the container yard while at port, spot the shuttles at the right hand corner which will take you from the ship to the entry

Things To Do In Noumea

Noumea offers a variety of attractions and activities for cruise ship passengers who want to explore its culture, nature, and history. Here are some of the things you can do in Noumea:


Le Marche de la Moselle (Port Moselle Markets)

The Port Moselle Markets in Noumea are a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. They offer a variety of fresh food, souvenirs, handicrafts, and more.

The markets are located beside the marina at Port Moselle, which is the main port of Noumea and are open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 5 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Be aware they are closed on Mondays and public holidays.

The markets have five pavilions with blue-tiled roofs. Three of them are dedicated to fresh food, one to souvenirs and handicrafts, and one to a cafe bar.

The fresh food pavilions offer a wide range of local produce, such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, honey, spices, and more. You can also find exotic items like taro, plantain bananas, yams, and chokos.

The ocean produce pavilion is located near the wharf and displays a stunning array of seafood from the lagoon and the deep sea. You can find crabs, prawns, octopus, lobsters, and various kinds of fish.

The souvenir and handicraft pavilion is a great place to find gifts for your friends and family or to remember your trip to New Caledonia. You can browse through stalls selling clothing, jewelry, accessories, homewares, art, and more.

The cafe bar is situated at the heart of one of the pavilions and serves delicious French-inspired treats, such as croissants, cheese platters, and croque-madame. It is a popular spot to relax and enjoy the market atmosphere.

grabbing some delicious food from the port moselle markets
grabbing some delicious food from the port moselle markets
checking at the different type of souvenirs available at the port moselle markets
checking at the different type of souvenirs available at the port moselle markets

Baie des Citrons

Baie des Citrons is a popular beach and is located less than 10 minutes from the city center. The name of the bay means “Bay of Lemons” in French, but there are no lemon trees in the area. The origin of the name is uncertain, but some say it comes from six huge trunks loaded on a ship that ran aground there, while others say it comes from lemon trees planted there before 1900.

The bay is sheltered from the prevailing winds and has calm and clear waters that are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There is a coral reef near the shore that hosts a diversity of marine life, such as fish, turtles, rays, and octopuses.

playing in the waters at baie des citrons a great beach to visit while at the cruise port noumea
playing in the waters at baie des citrons a great beach to visit while at the cruise port noumea
families hanging out at the beach of baie des citrons
families hanging out at the beach of baie des citrons

Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie

The Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie is a public aquarium that showcases the rich marine biodiversity of the coral reefs and lagoons of New Caledonia, as well as the freshwater ecosystems of the island. The aquarium was founded in 1956 by Dr. René Catala, a pioneer of coral reef research, and was renovated and expanded in 2007.

The aquarium has 12 thematic zones that display different habitats and species, from the freshwater rivers and lakes to the open sea and the deep ocean.

Visitors can admire colorful fish, corals, crustaceans, turtles, sharks, rays, and more. The aquarium also features a medusarium, where jellyfish are displayed in a dark room with changing lights, and a fluorescent coral room, where corals glow under ultraviolet light.

They are open from Monday to Friday from 13:00 to 18:00, and on weekends and holidays from 9:00 to 18:00. The admission fee is 1,500 XPF / $13.00 for adults, 750 XPF/ $6.70 for children (5 to 16 years old).


Les Petits Choux Patisserie

Les Petits Choux is a French bakery and pastry shop in Noumea. It is located near the cruise terminal, so it is a convenient option for visitors who want to taste some authentic French pastries, eclairs, tarts, and cakes.

The staff are friendly and the selection is large and enticing. You can also find some savory options such as filled baguettes and sandwiches. The prices are reasonable and the quality is high.

If you are looking for a delicious treat, Les Petits Choux is a great place to visit. You might even feel like you are in Paris for a moment!


Parc Zoologique & Forestier

Parc Zoologique & Forestier is a 36-hectare park in Noumea that was created in 1962 as the first terrestrial natural reserve. It was opened to the public in 1972 and named after Michel Corbasson, a former director of the park, in 1977.

The park features a variety of animals and plants, both native and exotic, that can be observed in different habitats. Some of the animals that can be seen in the park are cagous, flying foxes, parrots, monkeys, deer, wallabies, and reptiles.

The park also has a botanical garden, a playground, a picnic area, and a museum of natural history.

The park is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. The admission fee is 500 XPF / $4.50 for adults and 200 XPF / $1.80 for children.


Anse Vata Bay

Anse Vata Bay is a beautiful and popular destination in Nouméa. It is located on the southeastern coast of the main island, Grand Terre, and offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors.

One of the main features of Anse Vata Bay is its long sandy beach, which stretches for about two kilometers along the Roger-Laroque promenade. The beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing under the coconut trees.

There are also many hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and nightclubs along the promenade, catering to different tastes and budgets.

Another attraction of Anse Vata Bay is its water sports. The bay is exposed to the trade winds, which create ideal conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, and kayaking.

Some surfers even reach the nearby islands of Îlot Canard and Îlot Maître from Anse Vata. There are also several water taxi services that can take you to these islands, where you can enjoy snorkeling, diving, or just exploring the coral reefs and marine life.

enjoying a stroll along anse vata beach noumea
enjoying a stroll along anse vata beach noumea

Full-Day Shore Excursions In Noumea

Noumea offers a variety of shore excursions for cruise ship passengers, ranging from cultural tours to water activities. Here are some of the full-day shore excursion options you can choose from:


Duck Island

Duck Island is a small island near Noumea. It is a popular destination for snorkeling, relaxing, and enjoying the natural beauty of the coral reef and the marine life.

Duck Island is not really an island, but a small sandbank that emerged from the sea about 3000 years ago. It is surrounded by a fringing reef that forms a natural lagoon.

It is accessible by a water taxi that departs from Anse Vata Beach, the main tourist area of Noumea. The boat ride takes only 5 minutes and costs 1200 XPF / $10.80 for a round trip.

On the island, you can find a bar and restaurant on the beach, where you can enjoy drinks, snacks, and meals. You can also rent sun loungers, umbrellas, snorkeling equipment, and kayaks.

Duck Island is a marine reserve and has a snorkel trail that guides you through the reef. You can see various kinds of fish, coral, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and sometimes turtles. The water is clear and shallow, making it suitable for beginners and children.

The Island is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It can get crowded on weekends and holidays, so it is advisable to go early or on weekdays. You can also book a private tour or a zodiac boat ride to explore the island and the reef.

No doubt this is one of the more affordable island excursions from the cruise port Noumea making it a popular option with cruise goers.


Amedee Island

No doubt the most popular shore excursion for ships in the cruise port Noumea is Amedee Island. This is a beautiful island famous for its lighthouse, which was built in 1865 and is the oldest metal lighthouse in the world.

Amedee Island is also a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy the white sandy beaches, the coral reefs, and the marine life. You can take a day trip to the island and enjoy some of the following activities on offer:

  • Take a glass-bottom boat trip and see the colorful fish and corals.
  • Climb up the 247 steps of the lighthouse and enjoy the panoramic view of the island and the lagoon.
  • Watch a traditional dance show and learn how to tie a sarong.
  • Send a postcard from the smallest post office in the world, with a special stamp of the lighthouse.
  • Shop for souvenirs, such as T-shirts, caps, sarongs, and key rings at the island boutique.
  • Relax on the beach chairs and sun loungers, or rent snorkeling equipment, stand-up paddle, or kayak to explore the water.

Amedee Island is also a protected marine reserve that has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2009.

Tours to Amedee Island will be offered by your cruise ship operator and should be available to book both in advance and once on board. However, be aware this is one of those shore excursions that will sell out.

the incredible view from the amedee lighthouse, one of the most popular shore excursions in noumea
the incredible view from the amedee lighthouse, one of the most popular shore excursions in noumea

Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


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Find out all you need to know about visiting the cruise port Noumea. No matter which cruise line you are traveling with I will let you know all about visiting including top tips, how to get around, and the best shore excursions. 

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2 thoughts on “Cruise Port Noumea: What To Know And Best Things To Do

  1. Avatar for Rishab
    Rishab says:

    Hi Tasha,
    I found your blog on Noumea very informative, Thank you ! I am visting Noumea as a cruise stopover for only 7 hours (2pm to 9pm) on 8th April – Monday – Would you recomend that we take the Hop on Hop off bus and would it be better to pre book ? Anything else that you think we shouldnt miss while there?
    Thanks,
    Rishab

    • Avatar for Tasha Amy
      Tasha Amy says:

      Hey Rishab,
      Hopefully I am not replying too late, I have been busy on the road and only getting to comments now. Honestly I would recommend booking a tour while in Noumea, more specifically Duck Island or Amedee Island. However if you are wanting you simply explore Noumea itself the hop on hop off bus is a good option, but you dont need to book in advance.

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