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  ILE DES PINS, New Caledonia                                                                                       

Our trip to Ile des Pins was somewhat of a beat but the beautiful island was worth taking the effort to get to. We were treated to this sunrise on our passage which took about 24 hours.

The Isle of Pines floats on a stunning turquoise lagoon with its white sand beaches and stunning reflections. The island obviously gets its name from all the pine trees that border the beautiful beaches.

The people here are called Kunies. All around are ruminants of the penal colony, some of which has been restored to house government offices. There were several very small resorts but otherwise the area was very quiet.

Fantastic White Sand

Oct 20

We anchored in Kuto Bay, which is adjacent to Kanumera Bay, separated by a narrow strip of white sand. There were lots of other boats in the bay, one of which offered fresh bread for sale that was baked onboard.

The most striking attribute of the island was its talcum powder-like white sand, the nicest sand I have ever seen anywhere. Unfortunately the reefs were mostly dead so snorkeling was disappointing.

Sailing the Lagoon by Pirouge

Oct 21

We arranged an outing on a traditional Melanesian outrigger called a Pirouge.

Pirouges are basically oversized versions of the traditional dugout canoe, fitted with a sail. A group of men rolled the boats into the water using logs and then we waded out to board the vessels.

Our guide did not speak English so we didn't converse much. It was a peaceful ride once the engine was turned off and the sails were set, although not very efficient. There were other Pirouges in the lagoon and, as always happens anywhere there is more than one boat, the race was on.
The lagoon was glassy calm with just enough breeze to move us slowly along through the shallow waters of Upi Bay, sprinkled with coral rocks which resemble gigantic mushrooms.

After being deposited near the beach and wading ashore, we walked through the bush for 45 minutes to Oro Bay where there is a natural swimming pool set amongst the coral rock and bordered by the spiky pine tree horizon.

I walked to the far side of the islet where the sea beat against the rugged rocky coast

We had lunch at the paltry resort where we were unimpressed with our waiter who had a very bad attitude which we decided was indicative of much of the French population's reaction to the tourists. So unlike the hospitality we had become accustomed to in Vanuatu!
That evening we were warned that the winds would switch direction so we pulled up our anchor and joined the procession of boats moving from Kuto Bay to the more protected Kanumera Bay.

A Walk Around the Island

Oct 22

We hiked around the island between the two bays, through cabbage tree forests that accessed secluded small beaches. Everywhere were the shells from the profitable forest snails that New Caledonia exports to Asia. From the tip of the island, we could see the pine tree covered little islands surrounded by white sand, that are so indicative of the Ile des Pins area.

Since we were only given one week from check-in at Lifou to complete the quarantine procedures in Noumea, we set sail for the overnight trip.

 PHOTOS OF NEW CALEDONIA

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