History

New Caledonia was first discovered by European explorer James Cook while he was on an expedition in 1774. The land reminded Cook of Scotland, so he named the island New Caledonia, which translates to "New Scotland" in Latin. During the 19th century, New Caledonia was home to several whaling operations; however these operations were wiped out by plagues of measles, smallpox, and syphilis. Then, the whaling operation was replaced by "blackbirding", which is otherwise known as slave trading. Then, in 1853, it was captured by Napoleon III and became a French possession. Ever since, New Caledonia has been a luxury resort for French socialites.

Famous Attractions

There are several famous attractions that are must-sees for any vacation visit. Noumea, the capital city, is also home to the seat of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, which was formerly the South Pacific Commission. One must pay a visit to the capital city to see its many historic sights. Also, the main island of Grande Terre is very mountainous and has 5 main peaks that can be climbed by those who are adventurous. The highest point is Mont Panie, which is 5,341 feet tall. New Caledonia also has many great coral reefs for those interested in scuba diving. Even if you do not scuba dive, you must take a trip to one of the numerous reefs to snorkel.

Nightlife

New Caledonia has great nightlife that can range from lively parties to relaxed beach sunsets. In the larger cities on the main island such as Mueo, Thio, and Noumea, there are many large French nightclubs and sports arenas. New Caledonia has a great interest in soccer, so if you have the chance, you must attend a New Caledonia Football Team game. If you are not interested in nightclubs and parties, you can relax on one of the beautiful sandy beaches and watch an amazing sunset. There are also several great nighttime scuba trips to one of New Caledonia's numerous undisturbed coral reefs.

Cuisine

New Caledonian cuisine is divided into two main types. There is typical French cuisine and the indigenous Melanesian Kanak cuisine. Be sure to try the indigenous cuisine to sample its unique flavor that is unlike anything else in the world. New Caledonian cuisine is based mostly on seafood and uses local spices that are unique to the area. Kanak cuisine relies heavily on butter and garlic and is characteristically very sweet and tangy. Be sure to try some of the freshly caught fish, because some of the native species taste different from the fish from anywhere else in the world.