Generally speaking, I’d say that remote work is the most exciting career path anyone can take, but I would be lying to myself if I didn’t say that the level of excitement will oftentimes depend on the destination you’re about to call your home for the next few months. I would also be caught with my pants on fire if I didn’t say that I was a bit apprehensive about taking such a long trip to a completely unknown location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
After all, who knows how good the Wi-Fi connection is on a small island paradise in the Southern Hemisphere – arguably a digital nomad’s most relevant concern. Little did I know that this would be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my life, culturally, spiritually, gastronomically (dear god, I can still taste that delicious Bougna) and of course, professionally. Here is my take on New Caledonia as a destination for digital nomads, and how you can have a blast living, working, and partying in this little piece of heaven in the Pacific.
Noumea: a place to live, laugh, and work
Check it, I’m not just a traveller, I also have to make a living, and that requires a stable Wi-Fi connection and a relatively peaceful place to focus and get things done. So, if you were to think that I was staying anywhere else on the island except the capital itself, you would be mistaken. Generally, I heard the internet connection here is not that great, averaging at about 3mbps, so I didn’t want to take any chances.
As for accommodation, the city is full of mainstream hotel brands just dying for you to experience their version of the local culture, which is why I stayed clear of them from the get-go and I advise you to do the same.
Once you settle into a nice Airbnb or a local’s apartment, you can move on to the exploration of this charming urban gem. As for the livability part, the people are friendly, the Wi-Fi is stable, and the city streets are teeming with life at every corner.
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The culinary delights, the sweet summer wine
If you’re a foodie traveller, you’re bound to feel right at home here. The fusion of French and traditional Melanesian cuisine is simply bewildering, to say the least, and if nothing else, it’s bound to tease your taste buds in new, exciting ways. Here are some of the culinary treats I learned to cook during my stay, but you can find them at any restaurant:
- Bougna. Remember how at the beginning I said that I can still taste the Bougna in my mouth when I think of New Caledonia? Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. This traditional dish belongs to the Kanak people if I’m not mistaken, and it’s made out of chicken or lobster (although other variations exist) sprinkled with coconut milk and stewed in banana leaves. Yum!
- Snails from the Isle of Pines. More on the enchanting islet later on, but for now let’s just stop to acknowledge just how amazing this culinary masterpiece actually is! Honestly, I wasn’t too big on the whole eating-a-snail thing at first, but hubby over here made sure I tried the dish at least once. I wasn’t disappointed, that’s for sure, and the large snails simmered in French wine and garlic really offer something different to your taste buds.
- Bat stew. Yes, bat stew. Just forget you’ve read that for a moment and focus on the tender marinated meat roasting on the fire, offering quite a punch in terms of flavour and aroma. It’s amazing, to say the least. One little side note: tribespeople eat the meat with the fur still on, but you don’t have to.
- Poe. Pronounced “poe-ay”, this is a traditional dessert made with pumpkins or bananas enriched with coconut cream. Delish.
Revelling in the beauty of Isle of Pines
If you come to New Caledonia to live and work, you mustn’t skip a day-long excursion to the neighbouring Isle of Pines, arguably the most enchanting place I’ve ever laid eyes on. This place is heaven on Earth, and you can discover the intricate beauty of the Isle of Pines in a myriad of ways. One of the most mesmerizing natural settings I had the pleasure of visiting here is, of course, La Piscine Naturelle (Natural Pool), a small saltwater lake residing on the eastern fringe of the island.
I dare you to resist the urge to dive right into the crystal-clear, shallow waters surrounded by lines of pine trees casting a beautiful shade on the surface – it’s impossible! The entire islet is so breathtakingly beautiful, that if there was a chance to live and work there, I’m not sure I would have gone back to the main island at all. While there, don’t forget to visit the Statue of St. Maurice, and even explore the island by air if you’re not terribly afraid of heights like me.
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Lounging at the beaches of the main island
It wouldn’t have been an exotic remote work escapade if I hadn’t taken my time exploring the honey-hued beaches of the main island, ranging from the port in Noumea itself, all the way to the never-ending stretches of sand overlooking the expansive ocean on either side of the island.
If I could recommend a beach you should definitely visit, one which is close, convenient, and long enough to help you avoid the crowds even during those incessant peak tourist months of the year, it would have to be Poe Beach to the north of Noumea. This ten-kilometre stretch of pearly-white sand is bound to steal your heart, and the view from here is just mesmerizing – not to mention that the water is warm, crystal-clear, and full of friendly critters.
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Exploring the cultural heritage of the region
Last but not least, I should note that experiencing the culture here can be tricky business. I guess it depends who you tag along with really, as there are many different ways to get your taste of Caledonian heritage. On one hand, you have the unmistakable French cultural influence that permeates the region (after all, this is their colony), and on the other, you can witness the struggle of the indigenous Kanak people to preserve their cultural identity.
Luckily, the Kanaks are being increasingly represented in recent years, as I’ve heard, because they attract tourists. Whether the reasons for preserving their cultural heritage are honourable or not, you will still have the chance to experience their traditional song, dance, and rituals.
Thinking back on my time spent in New Caledonia, I can safely say that it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. If you’re looking for a mix of adventure, exploration, pure hedonism, AND want to get some work done in the process, well, this is the place to be.
So, what do you think about a New Caledonian adventure? Are you up for an exotic challenge? Don’t be shy and share your opinions down below!
About the author
Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels, she likes to read poetry and prose and surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag. She spends most of her free time at home walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography and a regular author at AdventureFit Travel. You can find Marie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.