The capital of New Caledonia, Noumea is positioned on the world’s largest natural lagoon, boasting a unique mix of Melanesian and French culture all fused together on a South Pacific gem of an island.

Featured on practically every South Pacific voyage departing from Australia, the city of 100,000 people offers some of the most unique excursions available in the South Pacific. The French influenced culture gives art lovers and foodies a unique opportunity to sample in many of the delights of Paris – without having to spend 20+ hours on a plane to Europe.

Once you’re off your ship, shore excursions at your disposal include opportunities to ride a Segway through the tropical rainforest or discovering the city on the famous “Tchou Tchou Train” – these and many others cater to a diverse range of interests, whether you’re more in line for some casual shopping, seeking to indulge yourself or take a walk on the wild side.

Family friendly options such as the largest Aquarium in the South Pacific feature some species only found in captivity in Noumea. If discovering fish in their native habitat is more your style, a speedboat ride to Amedee Island Marine Reserve is one of the most popular day tours the destination offers. It is here you can then catch a glass bottom boat to discover the mystery of what lies below – made all the more easy to see via the turquoise blue waters.

If you just simply want to “drop and flop” – as many do – there is a local bus out to Anse Vata Beach. Known as the windsurfing capital of the South Pacific, Anse Vata provides white sandy beaches to enjoy, while nearby shops and cafes provide the opportunity to indulge in some lunch or a spot of shopping.

It’s important though to plan accordingly as many of the shops and restaurants at Anse Vata and across New Caledonia close on Sundays. For this reason, if your cruise is visiting on this day of the week, you may wish to look at other shore tours to avoid any disappointment.

Culturally and historically, Noumea provides an interesting insight into French territorial claims in the Pacific, with The Tjibaou Cultural Centre providing an opportunity to discover the unique Kanak culture and the influences of other native cultures from around the Pacific. Entry fees start from AUD$6 per adult, with children free.

The Tjibaou Cultural Centre is also one of the few places showcasing the traditional Kanak dance routines, with performances on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2.30pm and additional shows on cruise ship days.

Passengers looking for a more hands on induction to the local cultures should also seize the opportunity to discover the local culinary delights on offer. French influences mixed with traditional cooking methods and ingredients has spawned a virtual dining revolution in the city, with guests able to take advantage of numerous cooking schools.

Checking out the local Municipal market will highlight a bevy of fresh local seafoods and other exotic items. Local supermarkets such as Casino and Carrefour will allow you to discover amazing local produce and quintessentially French fare, with stores offering cheaper souvenir items than you will find in downtown Noumea.

Unless you’re heading back to the ship for lunch, your dining options in the New Caledonian capital range from uber-deluxe French cuisine with menus pulled straight from the streets of Paris to more quaint hole-in-the-wall bakeries offering sandwiches on fresh French bread.