The Isle of Pines ( French: Ile des Pins ), also called the “closest island to paradise” , is an island of 152.3 km² southeast of New Caledonia The southernmost of the New Caledonian Islands is located almost on the Tropic of Capricorn, at 22 ° South Latitude.( New Caledonia is a dependent overseas territory of France lying in the western Pacific Ocean, in the Coral Sea, to the east of Australia and west of Vanuatu ) This geographical situation is worth a climate of great gentleness.
The island was sighted once by James Cook in 1774 during his second trip to New Zealand. Cook saw smoke attributed to human settlements, and gave his name to the island due to the abundant presence of columnar pines with its characteristic thin and tall silhouettes.
The Isle of Pines is also known for its prehistoric remains and for pottery in a place called “Vache” in the village of Vao, from the pre-Christian era, cave paintings and more than 400 burial mounds in the center of the island.
In 1840 Christian missionaries, both Protestants and Catholics arrived, along with merchants seeking sandalwood. The French took possession of the island in 1853 whereby the Kunies natives were converted to the Catholic religion. In 1872 the island became a French penal colony, home to about 3,000 political deportees from the Paris Commune.
Called Kunie by its Melanesian inhabitants, it is located 60 kilometers off the Grande Terre and is lulled by a tropical ocean climate all year round. The island is best known for its incredible pristine sand beaches, spectacular columnar pines, lavish blue waters, exceptional seabed and extraordinary bays.
Accessible by boat and plane from Noumea, it is one of the most tourist places in the archipelago. The French reality show The Adventures of Koh-Lanta (season 5) was held in 2005 on the islands near the Isle of Pines. this pearl of the Pacific is a natural site inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage since 2008.
Access : Coordinates: -22.616667, 167.483333 / Where is the Isle of Pines ? : in the extreme south of New Caledonia, off Brisbane in Australia / by plane : with Air Caledonie (20 mins from Noumea – from 12,700 CPF A / R) or by boat with the Betico ( 2h30 hours from Noumea – from 11,200 CPF A/R /
The ferry Betico : ( The BETICO 2 is the high-speed vessel that connects the Caledonian islands from Noumea: Isle of Pines and two of the Loyalty Islands, Lifou and Maré. ) actually goes twice a week to the island and also on the same day back. The journey takes about 2.5 hours and costs 100 € (round trip)./
Getting around : On Ile des Pins you have the possibility to rent a car or a bicycle. The island is quite flat. Therefore, it would be great to explore everything with a bike.There are two taxi companies that you can call.
- The natural pool of the Bay of Oro : the natural pool of seawater. Separated from the bay by a simple barrier of rocks, this “pool” is a splendid natural extravagance that makes the happiness of snorkelers. A real open-air aquarium
- the great beaches of fine white sand (very popular) and the colors of the lagoon. The best example is the Kuto Bay.
- Another attraction of the island, especially popular with tourists, is the traditional canoe trip in the lagoon.
- Diving : the beautiful lagoon, which houses numerous fish and coral species. She is often visited by cruise ships. you will discover all the splendours of the sea of ??coral: multicolored fish, various corals, underwater caves, drop offs and passes.
- The cave of Oumagne on the Isle of Pines : The cave of Oumagne has indeed been made famous thanks to the legend surrounding it. This place would have, so it is said, served as a refuge for the daughter of Grand Chief Kaoua Vendegou, the young Kanedjo of his Kanak name, later baptized Hortense as a tribute to the mother of Napoleon III. It is here that Hortense found refuge during certain conflicts between the tribes
- The remains of the prison of Ile des Pins : It was in 1872 that France decided to create a penal colony on the southwestern part of the island. Indeed, New Caledonia acquires the status of prison colony as early as 1864 when Port-de-France (now Noumea) reached the first “convicts” aboard the boat L’Iphigenie.
- Kanumera Bay on the Isle of Pines : the beach of Kanumera Bay is an invitation to practice PMT (flippers, mask, snorkel). In turquoise waters, a few dozen meters from the shore, “potatoes” and a small fringing reef allow to admire colorful fish living in the shade of an imposing rock!
- Upi Bay on the Isle of Pines : Located north of the small island of Koutomo, southeast of the Isle of Pines, the bay of Upi sees daily outrigger canoes crisscross these calm waters. Sailing aboard these light and graceful wooden boats on an excursion is an unforgettable experience
- Queen Hortense’s cave : The cave of Oumagne has indeed been made famous thanks to the legend surrounding it. This place would have, so it is said, served as a refuge for the daughter of Grand Chief Kaoua Vendegou, the young Kanedjo of his Kanak name, later baptized Hortense as a tribute to the mother of Napoleon III.
- Bay of Saint Maurice / Gadji Bay and Crab Bay / Bay of the rollers / Baie de la Corbeille- Bay of the Basket and the Bay of Crabs / Church of Our Lady of the Assumption / Kuto Bay / To let off steam on the roof of the island: Pic N’ga
Activities : sightseeing / photo opportunities / trekking / sport fishing / Scuba diving / explore its geological wonders: Its caves / To find a natural wonder: Oro natural pool
Go next : Ouvea / Grand Terre is the main island in New Caledonia / The Loyalty Islands is in New Caledonia / Belep Archipelago / The Chesterfield Islands are in New Caledonia, to the extreme west of the rest of the country -nearly 300 miles.