New Caledonia is another overseas French territory in Oceania. While not regarded as the cheapest place of the French territories, it is a beautiful nation.
With plenty of New Caledonian islands, many choose to go to Grand Terre, which is the largest island in New Caledonia and has the capital called Noumea.
As an island nation, you will find plenty of beaches in New Caledonia. Attractions I would recommend visiting are the Coconut Palm Square, which is just a cool place to be, watching sea turtles on Îlot Maître, and see the Amédée Lighthouse. You do not have to solely be on a beach when in New Caledonia (but you probably will be).
What you should not be doing is to roam with your provider in New Caledonia. Roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a New Caledonian SIM card to enjoy local rates.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in New Caledonia. Let’s have a look.
Telecom Provider in New Caledonia
New Caledonia has only 1 telecom provider, which is Mobilis by OPT. Mobilis has 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE networks in the country. Coverage with Mobilis is good, although it can be bad in the mountains. Besides that, you will be fine in all the towns and along the coast.
What SIM card should you buy when visiting New Caledonia? If you want to buy a SIM card in New Caledonia, your only choice would be Mobilis.
As Mobilis has a monopoly on mobile data and broadband internet, prices are high. This is often the case on island nations with monopolies. Speeds may not be the best in New Caledonia, so be aware of that.
Unlike most countries in Oceania, you do have to show your passport when buying a New Caledonian SIM card.
VoIP services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Skype (calls) have been blocked. International call rates from New Caledonia are expensive. You can, however, use a VPN to make VoIP calls so that you do not have to pay ridiculously high IDD calls. I use NordVPN because I get high speeds with their servers. They have around 5500 servers in 59 countries. They have servers in Australia and New Zealand (there are many more, but these are the closest to New Caledonia). You can get up to 70% off your NordVPN subscription if you get yours today!
Lastly, this is important for those with a European Union SIM card: New Caledonia is not part of the EU or EEA, which means that the Roam like Home rule does not apply in New Caledonia. Therefore, it is recommended that European citizens with EU SIM cards buy a New Caledonian SIM card instead of roaming with their providers. Even French providers consider New Caledonia as a foreign destination, so do not expect to be roaming for free or low rates with a French SIM card in New Caledonia.
With all of that said, let’s see what Mobilis has to offer.
Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!
OPT’s mobile brand is called Mobilis, and they are the sole operator in New Caledonia. Mobilis SIM cards are sold in OPS stores across the country. You can also get one at La Tontouta International Airport.
Almost always, the regular local SIM cards are cheaper than tourist SIM cards. In the case of New Caledonia, that is the case. However, their regular SIM cards, called forfaits, require a commitment of at least 6 months, which is not feasible for most travelers. Therefore, you have to get a tourist SIM card called Tourism Card for 3180 XPF ($29.30) with 1500 XPF in credit or the Kit Liberté for 6200 XPF ($57.00) with 3000 XPF in credit. As you can see, they are expensive SIM cards.
Mobilis SIM cards are sold in OPT stores and some kiosks. Top-up cards are sold from 1050 XPF to 5259 XPF. They come with the following perks:
- 1050 XPF: 1000 XPF for 120 days
- 3150 XPF: 3000 XPF and 10 SMS for 150 days
- 5250 XPF: 5000 XPF credit and 20 SMS for 180 days
Normally, Pay As You Go data rates are expensive. In the case of Mobilis, you cannot even use data without a data pack. The following data packs can be added:
- 500 XPF: 250 MB for 3 days. Activation: IM to 1101
- 900 XPF: 500 MB for 5 days. Activation: IM to 1102
- 1500 XPF: 1 GB for 7 days. Activation: IM to 1103
- 2000 XPF: 2 GB for 10 days. Activation: IM to 1104
If you go over your data allowance, your speed will be reduced to 256 kbps, which is extremely slow for modern web browsing. To check your balance, text IM to 1088 for free.
If you need to change your APN settings manually, then you need to add the following under APN: “IM”.
Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in New Caledonia
So far, you have been informed about the SIM card options in New Caledonia. However, that is not the only way to be online in New Caledonia I have already briefly mentioned that you can roam with your provider, although it can be expensive in most cases. Besides that, you can use free WIFI connections, mobile hotspots, or international SIM cards.
Roaming in New Caledonia with Your Provider
Roaming is a term used in wireless telecommunication that indicates a mobile device is outside the range of its home network and has connected to a different, available cell network. Let’s say your provider is DoCoMo Pacific from Guam, then you would be roaming with DoCoMo Pacific in New Caledonia.
You may have read horror stories of people coming back from a lovely holiday, only to be confronted with a roaming bill in the thousands. This can still be the case if you do not review your roaming options before going on a holiday. Luckily for you, I have written about the roaming options you have with various providers around the world, which you can read here.
Some operators offer roaming plans. Others allow you to roam for free in New Caledonia, while several operators let you use your plan’s allowance for a daily fee. As you can see, roaming does not have to be a horrific experience. If your provider is generous and lets you roam for free in New Caledonia, then you do not even need a local SIM card (although I would still recommend doing so, as your connection speed will be much slower as a roamer than someone who is a customer of the network).
No idea how roaming works? I made this comprehensive guide about what roaming is and how it works. It is worth the read – promised!
Pay As You Go roaming should be avoided, as that is how travelers get high roaming bills. One provider charges you about 1000 USD per GB in certain destinations, which is insane. If you really want to roam, check whether your provider has attractive roaming plans. Else, you will be better off with buying a local SIM card.
Using Free WIFI connections in New Caledonia
This does not require a lot of explanation, but using free WIFI connections is the cheapest way to connect to the internet because you do not have to pay anything. Nothing beats free stuff, right? Well, not so fast.
First, you need to find hotspots in New Caledonia. In some countries of cities, you will find so many hotspots that you can try them out one by one and find the one with the fastest speeds. In other places, however, WIFI connections do not seem to exist.
In the case of New Caledonia, you will not find many hotspots.
Additionally, public WIFI hotspots are unsecure. They are a prime target for hackers to steal your data and use it for illicit purposes. That is I use, and would recommend you to start using, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you connect to a public hotspot. What a VPN does is creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the hotspot so that your data will stay private. I use NordVPN, and you can get up to 70% off when you get a NordVPN subscription. Get your subscription now or learn more about NordVPN.
Using a Pocket WIFI (Mobile Hotspot) in New Caledonia
Pocket WIFI is a portable, battery-powered wireless router that allows you to connect your phone, laptop, or tablet without needing multiple SIM cards for those devices to be connected to the internet. They are compact and lightweight so that you take them along with you whenever you need internet access on the go.
Many companies have created mobile hotspots (just have a quick search on Amazon, for example, you will find many). Skyroam and Vision Global Wireless are reputable pocket WIFI providers I know. You can get a discount if you rent a router through Skyroam by using coupon code PHONETRAVELWIZ. Cellular access with Skyroam starts at $8 a day while using a Vision Global device starts at $2 a day. Both services cover more than 130 destinations around the world.
I often recommend mobile hotspots to those who are traveling in groups or with families. They can save groups a lot of money if they are visiting destinations where buying multiple SIM cards would become an expensive endeavor.
I recently wrote an article analyzing the 7 Best Mobile Hotspots for Travelers like yourself, which should be an interesting read if pocket WIFI is something you are considering. I do reviews of individual devices every now and then, so check out my mobile hotspot category to stay up to date.
Getting an International SIM card for Traveling in New Caledonia
International SIM cards are, as the name implies, SIM cards for international use. Well, that does not explain anything. Although most providers allow you to use your card abroad, some actually restrict this possibility. An international SIM card lets you go abroad without having to change SIM cards when visiting multiple destinations. They have been made with the traveler in mind.
All of this sounds lovely, but international SIM cards are much more expensive than local SIM cards in New Caledonia. Not only that, some offer poor service as well for high rates. Some reputable companies I know are OneSimCard, SimOptions, Surfroam, BNESIM, and SimCorner.
International SIM cards are appealing to those who travel frequently or are visiting multiple destinations in one trip. Some countries in Oceania require you to register before you can use a SIM card, which can be a hassle for some. Additionally, the language barrier may be off-putting to some travelers, which is why an international SIM card can be handy. You order it before you depart and can use it in various destinations.
My recommendation, however, is to get a local SIM card if you are only visiting one destination. If you are visiting multiple ones, an international SIM card could be handy. If you want to learn more about international SIM cards, check out my international SIM card comparison article, where I analyze 10 international SIM card providers so that you do not have to.
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in New Caledonia
Getting a SIM card from Mobilis would be your only option when considering a New Caledonian SIM card. Be sure to explore the roaming options your provider offers you, as they may offer free or cheap roaming bundles.
You could also consider getting an international SIM card or using a portable hotspot. International SIM cards are attractive for those visiting multiple destinations at once or within a year. Portable hotspots will be useful when traveling with multiple people so that not each individual has to get a SIM card but can use the hotspot.
Visiting other countries in Oceania? Check out my Oceanian SIM card buying guide covering the other Oceanian destinations, such as American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for New Caledonia
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to New Caledonia. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to New Caledonia drop.
Book Your Accommodation for New Caledonia
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in New Caledonia. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in a New Caledonian hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for New Caledonia
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in New Caledonia, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to the local currency for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!