What season to go in?
Endowed with a temperate tropical climate, New Caledonia, situated north of the Tropic of Capricorn, lives according to the rhythm of its two main seasons. Summer extends from December to March, often with strong rain in January and February, and maximum temperatures varying from 28º to 33ºC. In winter, which lasts from June to September, average temperatures range from 20º to 23ºC with cool evenings. Note that the climate is drier in the North. Thus, in October and November, then in April and May, the country has two very pleasant between-season periods during which it is generally fine and neither too hot nor too cool to take advantage of the pleasures of land and sea. Depending on the period and the place, the water temperature ranges from 21º to 28ºC. Note too that in New Caledonia night falls early, around 5.30 pm during the southern winter and around 6.30 pm in summer. In short, no period is really preferable to any other for visiting the country, even if those who love sunbaking and lazing around generally prefer the southern summer to the winter, which delights those who like land sports and hiking. Throughout the year, life in New Caledonia is punctuated both by the usual French national holidays and numerous local cultural and sporting events – additional information to help you determine the ideal period for your visit.
Administrative and customs formalities
French citizens must have a valid passport to enter the territory (not an identity card, due to the various international stops en route). No visa is required for holders of passports from the European Community, the United States, New Zealand or Australia if their visit does not exceed three months. Visitors of other nationalities must enquire at the French Embassy in their country. Note too that a temporary or permanent residence permit in France is not sufficient to stay in New Caledonia. In this case, a visa must be obtained.
On your arrival, you must declare transported goods and pay the associated duties and fees at the customs office.
For anyone arriving by yacht in New Caledonia, Port-Moselle is the essential entrance port, even if the customs formalities can be carried out at the Pandop marina, at Koumac in the North. You can be received at the harbour master's office and a VHF standby is provided on channel 67 every day from 7 am till 6 pm (information on the website www.sodemo.nc).
No vaccination certificate is required on entry to the territory, but it is strongly recommended to have up-to-date current vaccinations (diphtheria, tetanus, polio). In New Caledonia neither malaria nor yellow fever are found, but on the other hand, dengue fever can be contracted if you don’t use protection against mosquito bites. Some reef fish can also transmit ciguatera poisoning, which locally is called la gratte, the itch. New Caledonia has a substantial modern medical infrastructure (hospitals, private clinics, numerous general practitioners and specialists, dispensaries and pharmacies).
Clothes and equipment to take with you
Light and practical clothes are worn throughout the year in New Caledonia, especially in the North. From December to March, when it is hot and humid, protective sun cream, shorts, manous (local pareos), tank tops, thongs and swimsuits are essential, along with a waterproof jacket for rainy days and a long-sleeved T-shirt for windy evenings. From June to September, temperatures are lower and cool nights follow generally fine, sunny days. Sweatshirts and light jackets are welcome when night falls and it’s worth considering a quilt for inside and a down-filled sleeping bag for outside. Essential in all weather are hiking shoes, beach sandals for walking in the water and, for sporting fans, wetsuits, scuba diving equipment, sailboards and kite surfs. Of course, all this heavy specialised equipment can also be rented locally. In Kanak country, the monokini and nudism are prohibited at the beach. Moreover, appropriate clothing is desirable to respect community modesty.