Nouméa is the largest city and capital of the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. It's a city with a Western feel in strong contrast with the rest of New Caledonia. There are beautiful beaches in the vicinity.
The city itself has approximately 100,000 inhabitants, but the metropolitan area around Nouméa has grown significantly in recent years. Almost 200,000 people live in this 'agglomération du Grand Nouméa', two-thirds of New Caledonia's total population.
New Caledonia strongly depends on development funds from France. In recent years, many new houses have been built in the capital Nouméa. Nickel is the main export product; the mines supply approximately 20% of the world's resources. Although New Caledonia is a beautiful island with wonderful beaches, tourism is underdeveloped mainly because of high living costs and the lack of cheap flights to New Caledonia. The harbor is, however, a popular mooring place for cruise ships.
New Caledonia Airport is situated near Païta, 52 kilometers northwest of Nouméa. It's easily reachable by rental car via the island's main road. There's a smaller airport closer to the capital, Nouméa-Magenta Airport, which is used exclusively for flights to and from places on the island's east coast and other New Caledonian islands.
Nouméa has reasonable public transport; there are eight bus lines recognizable by the different colors of the buses. There's also a special tourist bus, the Nouméa Explorer, which runs along the main places of interest and hotels. Le Petit Train is a touristy train (by road, not on rails); it runs along the best viewing points. Passengers of cruise ships in particular use these to quickly 'visit' New Caledonia.
Nouméa has grown significantly in recent years and it can be busy in the city center. A rental car is ideal to explore the rest of the island. More than that, it's basically the only comfortable way to travel across the island and visit the best spots. Apart from the capital's center, you'll have no trouble finding a parking place for your rental car.
Nouméa and the rest of the island offer a reasonable choice of accommodations. Most hotels and holiday resorts are fairly expensive though. Not surprising, since most tourists in New Caledonia don't have to watch their pennies. There are some options for budget travelers. There's for example a youth hostel on the Rue Pasteur in Nouméa.
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