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New Caledonia: a French escape only a few hours away

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NSM Ruchi Sabharwal shares her trip to New Caledonia – a tropical paradise practically in Australia’s backyard.

New Caledonia – it’s a French island just three hours flight from Sydney. That sentence had me in a second and so it wasn’t long before 21-month-old Miss Re and her mummy and daddy jetted off to see this island.

The flight was actually only about 2 hours and 45 minutes, and the airline was very accommodating: Aircalin. We had checked in prior to the day, even specified meal requests and that we would love an empty seat between us. Hurray, because we had that for our constantly moving toddler and the meals were quite yummy.

The choice was to stay at a new Sheraton property in Bourail, which is a 90-minute drive from the La Tontouta International Airport, or at Nouméa, which is a 20-minute drive from the airport. We just wanted to relax and unwind and ‘phim’ (Miss Re’s word for swim), so we chose Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Resort and Spa, but if we wanted access to multiple restaurants, shopping and generally more buzz we would have picked Nouméa (I believe Le Méridien Nouméa is meant to be good).

Sheraton Deva is beautiful, six months old (opened in August 2014), with a gorgeous wooden lobby, beautifully designed bungalows (each one is in the shape of a shack) and a huge swimming pool. There are downsides in that there is only one restaurant open for lunch and one for dinner. The dinner one has a buffet only on many nights.

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Miss Re and I cuddling by the pool.

The breakfast has a huge selection of lots of yummies, especially the fruit and breads. Also, the cakes! And the fish and cheese produce is delicious. They could work on their eggs and hash browns, though.

I do wish we had been slightly closer to the reception area since walking with a 21-month-old is not fun but, having said that, on most days the reception buggy was there within 10 minutes of us calling for a pick-up. They also have bikes parked at the reception free for the use of guests. We even used one with a baby seat attached. Very nice.

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Miss Re enjoyed bike riding around the resort with her daddy.

We did hire a car from the hotel to go driving around the area and visit La Roche Percée, Turtle Bay, and the towns of Poé and Bourail, but alas the towns were shut since it was a Sunday. Wish we had been told that, though the sites were quite nice. We did find a snack bar open and did eat some okay food after trying to explain what we wanted from the French-written board.

The thing we do regret is not really being able to utilise the beach – since it does have quite a lot of seaweed, we felt it was unsafe for Miss Re. But, otherwise, the resort has a lot of free non-motorised equipment for the guests including canoes, rafts, boards, etc. Of course, there are motorised equipment for hire and even a glass bottom boat to go into the gorgeous UNESCO heritage area.

If you are going as a couple to relax and spend some much-needed romantic time or going with a toddler, like ours who loves swimming and hates cars or too much commotion, this is the perfect place to unwind and feel the fresh air and calm set in. Would we go again? Probably not, but only because the world is our oyster!

Until the next adventure,

Ruchi!

Follow my blog, Mumsbitworth.

Tell us, have you ever visited New Caledonia? What did you love or dislike about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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