Nouméa's finest beaches are near the southern end of the city's scalloped peninsula. When the wind is blowing at Anse Vata, it will be calm at nearby Baie des Citrons. Very attractive and easily accessible by bus, these bays are also cluttered with hotels and tend to be crowded; elsewhere in New Caledonia you can usually have a beach to yourself.
The Aquarium des Lagons (closed Monday, reduced admission for seniors over 60, students, and children), located between Baie des Citrons and Anse Vata, reopened in 2007 in a building four times the size of the old Nouméa Aquarium. The European Union funded this project to the tune of over US$10 million.
The aquarium has an excellent collection of reef fish, sponges, cuttlefish, nautilus, sea snakes, sea slugs, and fluorescent corals which you won't want to miss. Taking photos without a flash is allowed.
On Anse Vata east of the Aquarium is the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, formerly known as the South Pacific Commission, which opened in 1995. The roof of the main conference building and library (to the left as you enter) is shaped like an inverted canoe. The library is worth visiting to see the showcased artifacts and publications, or just to relax and browse the newspapers and magazines. There's even a computer for connecting to the Internet free of charge if no one else is using it. Temporary exhibitions are often mounted in the conference center beyond, and the coral pathways across the gardens symbolize Micronesian navigational charts.
A road to the left just beyond the municipal swimming pool at the other end of the bay leads up to Ouen Toro Hill and a fine panorama (a 15-minute walk). In 1940, two six-inch cannons were set up here by the Australian army to cover the reef passage in the vicinity of Amédée Lighthouse, visible to the south. Promenade Pierre Vernier along Baie Sainte Marie east of Ouen Toro is an attractive place to stroll between the rows of palms, and there's a training track complete with pull-up bars, balance logs, etc.
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