As one of the country's nearest neighbours in the Pacific Ocean, you might expect New Caledonia to be a more popular tourist destination than it is. Despite the islands being a part of the French Republic and having above average hospitals, some of its healthcare institutions are not up to the grade that you would expect of most European-run administrations. Therefore, anyone visiting from Australia should make sure that they are up to date with the latest medical advice. Since this changes from time-to-time, it is worth confirming specific guidance shortly before travel. For general advice, read on.
The Australian government recommends that anyone travelling to New Caledonia takes out comprehensive medical insurance before they leave the country. Crucially, this includes anyone who is taking part in an organised tour which does not include its own health insurance plan or for which cover is limited. This is because the Australian government will not cover healthcare expenses incurred whilst you are overseas nor any evacuations costs if these become necessary.
It is highly recommended that you seek immunisations before travelling to New Caledonia. What you will need to be vaccinated for will depend on where else in the world you have travelled in the last 24-month period and what you have recently been inoculated for. Dengue fever is something that is common in the area, for example. To conduct thorough health checks which will be of full benefit to you, doctors need to make a clinical assessment of your needs eight weeks prior to travel. This is particularly important if you already have any conditions which might make you more susceptible to certain illnesses, such as ailments that impact negatively on your immune system.
If you plan to do anything which is considered to be high risk, then you may need additional insurance cover. If you plan to dive when you are visiting the islands – it is a popular activity – it may be advisable to avoid heading to depths which are more than you are used to. There is only one decompression chamber in the whole of New Caledonia, located in Noumea. Likewise, many mountain trails are tough to navigate, even if you are experienced in the bush and can lead to injuries.
Water and Cleanliness
Any tap water that you drink in urban centres will be fine. However, some rural areas enjoy a much lower quality of tap water. Ensure you consume cooled, boiled water if you are off the beaten track. Make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly when dining and out and drinking. Although the local authorities encourage good standards of hygiene, some bars and restaurants can be a little under par. If you think that a place could do with a clean, then it is probably better to move on to another outlet.