Located just two hours from Brisbane, three hours from Sydney and four hours from Melbourne, the easy-to-reach paradise of New Caledonia may just be the South Pacific’s best-kept secret. In just a few short hours you can be surrounded by French speakers, elegant cuisine, Parisian boutiques and culture all infused with Pacific charms and tropical beauty.

Eat: French food

As a French territory, New Caledonia is the chicest tropical dot in the ocean we’ve ever come. The locals here take classic French dishes and add their tropical twist, making the most of the island’s local produce. If you’re a fan of French food you’re in for a treat with our pick of the top French restaurants in New Caledonia.

La Table des Gourmets: Considered one of the best restaurants in the whole of New Caledonia, this elegant eatery serves French food overlooking the ocean and features ‘The Cave’, a stocked wine cellar where you’ll find some of France’s most delicious imported vinos.

L’Hippocampe: As the signature restaurant at Le Méridien Noumea Resort & Spa, expect only the finest French cuisine at this pricey eatery where standout dishes include the smoked duck foie gras with a creamy corn and sweet capsicum ketchup, and the confit of scallops in salted butter with a mango and ginger chutney.

Isle of Pines famous escargot: Ok, so this isn’t exactly a restaurant but if you visit the Isle of Pines while in New Caledonia you have to sample the forest-dwelling snails, considered a delicacy by the locals who farm them.

Drink: With a view

When you’re surrounded by a UNESCO World Heritage-listed lagoon, it’s hard not to want to enjoy a tipple with some beautiful views of gently lapping waves and turquoise ripples.

Le Bout du Monde: Built on the remains of old ships at the bottom of Moselle Bay, you can enjoy cocktails like the Jack Sparrow or Sweet Mermaid while nibbling on tapas dishes and fresh seafood.

Les 3 Brasseurs: As the only artisanal brewery in the territory, come here to sample blonde, brown, white or amber beers ’til late with burgers, wraps and pizzas for the kids.

Stay: In luxury

New Caledonia is the perfect place to head to when you’re looking for some winter sun without having to travel too far.

Hilton Noumea La Promenade Residences: Currently ranked one of the top five hotels in Noumea on TripAdvisor, this Hilton property is perfect for those looking to kick-back by the beach. Describing their style as ‘French Riviera style meets the charm of New Caledonia’, you can stay in the heart of vibrant Noumea while enjoying the blue waters of Anse Vata Beach, the resort’s outdoor pool or the French restaurant.

Escapade Island Resort: Another of the top five hotels in Noumea, Escapade Island Resort provides overwater accommodation in a dreamy setting. Spend your days snorkelling with sea turtles and tropical fish or exploring the 200-hectare nature reserve that the resort sits on, before enjoying balmy nights and fresh seafood.

Play: On the islands

The mainland of New Caledonia boasts some unbelievable sites including the unmissable Heart of Voh mangrove swamp, but if you’re looking for an absolute paradise, head to the islands.

Lifou: Lifou is the largest and most populous island of the archipelago of New Caledonia. It’s here that you’ll discover some of the world’s most pristine beaches, secret caves, crystalline waters and plenty of diving spots. You can also visit vanilla plantations and sample the world-renowned produce of this idyllic island.

Isle of Pines: Named after its lush forest of towering pine trees, the scenery on the Isle of Pines is nothing less than breathtaking.

Maré: Expect dreamy white sands and idyllic scenery on this tropical island where you’ll find honeycomb rocks and hidden caves and pools, all fringed by a tropical reef just waiting to be explored.

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