Our first night we stayed at the Le Meridan Hotel, large open spaces, with welcoming staff who loved that we had tried out our French, but her English was better! Our bedroom was garden view once again a lot of space, bath, shower, and baloney. We ordered room service as the Restaurant had a special function on.
I loved that we asked a question to the room service attendant, about a special location, who was unsure and wanted to send up her boss to answer it. He later came to collect the dishes and answered our question. How cool is that.
Isle de Pins
The next morning, was an early start to catch our flight with air-Caledonie to Isle de Pins at the domestic terminal (Magenta) and this location is about a 10minute drive from town and has such an island feel to it. The flight was delayed until 1020 but the bags and check in needed to be done on time. The café struggled to keep up with demand but was ok. The airline certain as an island airline and patience is needed. Just because it is delayed does not mean not being at the airport. They will open up the check in and bag drop area just as if the flight is on time and 10 minutes later its closed. That’s it. When they say one bag 12kgs that is it. If you think you could be slightly over – it is easier to purchase more on line when you purchase your ticket. They don’t understand your English (but they do). If you speak French all the better.
We finally arrived at the Isle de Pins and the resort bus picked us up. The bus was I think the only way to get to the resort and when I ask the resort they said yes for 2 900xpf per person return. One would have thought they would just include that in the room charge.
We arrived at the Hotel resort, and very nice it is. A very nice welcome and we did not have to wait for our room. The welcome receptionist said we had obviously been waiting around enough today. I enquired as to if the flights were often delayed. I was surprised with her reply. Well yes – but you are lucky today as it always runs in day 1 delay day 2 delays and day 3 they cancel. We were only day 2. How disruptive this could be to your holiday.
This resort looks and feels lovely – but the beach if you want to actually swim in the ocean is not possible here. You can paddle. If you want to swim in ocean water, then you have a hike to the swim hole. Interesting walk.
The Island has many specimens of an unusual looking pine tree. Tall slender and narrow branches. There are 19 species of Araucaria exist worldwide, of which 13 are endemic to
New Caledonia, including the columnar pine. The other 6 are spread throughout segments of ancient Gondwana; South America, Australia, New Guinea and Norfolk Island. The paper- like bark of the columnar pine distinguishes it from similar pines
We walked along the beach, passed some cute kids who asked if we want to come to the
restaurant, which we later came across on the edge of the bush and beach (closed when we were there). It looked like a local village dining area and could imagine to be fun. We
walked up this dry river bed for at least 15 minutes and it came out onto this picturesque
(just like the brochures) spot. Doing it earlier in the day and taking a picnic – it would be
awesome. We decided to walk up the flowing river to the hotel and pass several sea
snakes….. it was a great adventure for us.
We asked the hotel where else could one go to swim. The receptionist said on the other
side of the island and tomorrow would be a good day to go as there will be a cruise ship in and all the markets will be open. So, for a small fee we took the hotel courtesy vehicle a 15 minute bus ride to ….
There are two bays and both magic. The swimming – perfect and we had our own snorkel
gear, so off we went exploring. Sure! there were 1200 people joining us from the cruise
ship, but it was not over crowded and plenty of space. The markets were out in force, with half a crayfish for 35.00 Australian dollars, pancakes, cocoanut drinks, burgers and lots of other market day items.
I had read about another Resort Oure Tera, which I was keen to explore. We made our way along the beach and over the fence that said do not enter. But of course, we did.
I had considered staying here in my early stages of planning, but they did not reply. We
went to reception to see if we could have lunch. After being ignored for 10 minutes – we
managed to gain the attention of the receptionist who was busy stapling paper together and she directed us to the dining area. Well I have to say – the place looked run down, Tony wanted to at least mow the lawn, I wanted to tidy up the furniture and do a pick up. Oh this place is crying out for attention and it is the most amazing spot, best beach and a fabulous lunch. The bungalows on the beach are approx. AU$750.00 a night
We wondered back along the beach feeling very satisfied with ourselves and watched as the passengers queued to board the lifeboats returning them to their cruise.
Situated not far from Bourail (Burhai)
The foyer is massive and the welcome certainly very warm. Nice cordial drink on arrival.
Our breakfast was not included, and 3100 PFrances for a coffee and croissant was not idea for us. However, the Creek café opened at 10am and we enjoyed a coffee and croissant sitting peacefully in the lounge.
The beach is at least 4 km long and no one on it really. The water is shallow so if you want to swim you would need to use the pool (refreshing unheated water – but great in the middle of the day)
In the lagoon you can wade out. We took the glass bottom tour out 2.5 kms to the reef.
Such a great tour and we learnt so much and saw so much. Two huge tu
rtles that were like 100 years old and then snorkelled for 40 minutes – so well worth doing. I could do again tomorrow. We enjoyed the trip with a couple from Tokyo, they had arrive at midnight the night prior and were staying for 4 nights before flying back to Tokyo. They had visited Malaysia, Indonesia and by far loved here the most – so peaceful and quiet
. boat coming to get us snorkelling on the reef
large turtle seen via the glass bottom boat
We had lunch at the sand café prior to going – fantastic service and great food. Try the
venison bacon…. No to forget the café ice cream.
Towels, very thin for posh resort. Also, no shower cap
Loved the resort, staff at reception and food outlets certainly had some vibrancy about them.
Very happy and nice to chat to.
Tony had to play golf – even 9 holes was better than nothing. It gets dark at 5.30pm so 9
holes was all he would get in. A nice course with lots of bunkers not unlike Kinloch in NZ.
Driving back to Noumea we diverted from the main road to a La Roche Percee – awesome
waves and beach area and the best crepes, banana, chocolate sauce and coffee we had.
La Crepe Bonhomme 732510
Part of the beach is not suitable for swimming underwater – but further along from this – it
was a great find
Chateau Royal (on the site of the old Club Med)
Service appalling. On arrival it was difficult to find anyone to assist with our bags and we took them to our room ourselves. We handed over our Accor plus card and the receptionist just pushed it back. I thought well I had put it on the booking request so maybe she is telling us it is ok. But be aware that this hotel is not an Accor hotel – it may came up on the website but it has nothing to do with them. It maybe just a marketing avenue for them, but it is very false advertising and no one wants to discuss it with you. The Hotel denies any association and certainly no two for one meals or anything else.
The internet you only get ….. of free wifi and it seems even if you have just turned your phone on it is gone. We battled our way through and eventually got a pass for the week. I think otherwise we would have gone back to the Le Meridien next door.
The two bedroom suit we had was good and which is great when two couples travelling together – but only two chairs on the patio. The kitchen area is a nice convivence. No bath just showers and that is ok.
Breakfast in the restaurant Le Taom and dinner in the evening is highly rated
We loved the coffee and pastry on the deck at Bar Le Warai from 6.30am – 11am (perfect) It was interesting we walked right pass the reception in swimwear on a cloudy day and no one said the pool bar is not open today you have to get your towels from us. We did go to the spa which is right next door to the pool but they would not give us towels, we had to go back upstairs to reception to get towels. This are only small issues, but in a hotel of this standard one just expects a little more attention to details for the customer.
A visit to the Tjbaou cultural centre, situated in 8 hectares, is well worthwhile. It opened in May 1998 The architecture itself is amazing and what you learn on the inside gives you an understanding of the people – certainly a journey of discovery. To get to TCC take public bus line Karuia N40. The centre is situated on the Tina peninsula close to the domestic Magenta airport and the Tina golf course
Le Lagon International – there foyer is well worth a look, the Hilton (not your normal looking Hilton) Ramada
You can stay with tribal accom. Inhabitants in many tribal villages, are keen to share their lifestyle, will accommodate you in their traditional hut, allow you to participate in everyday life and introduce you to customs.
Read my next blog on New Caledonia highlights and top tips