The Pacific Isle of PInes

Located about 1500 kilometres east of Australia are the island groups which comprise New Caledonia, a French-Pacific Territory. One of the prettiest of the islands is the Isle of Pines, which is nicknamed “the closes island to Paradise”, because of its great beauty.

One of the reasons for its popularity as a destination for tourists is because it is surrounded by the magnificent New Caledonia Barrier Reef, which is an ideal place for snorkelling and SCUBA diving. The island is relatively unspoiled, and its location right on the Tropic of Capricorn means that it has a glorious climate which is ideal for soaking up the sun on an almost deserted beach.

In fact, the Isle of Pines is truly representative of an idyllic South Sea island.

It was named by Captain Cook in 1774 during his epic voyage to the South Pacific. The island is covered in a unique species of conifer which can grow to a height of 60 meters (200 feet). Although known as the Isle of Pines, the local inhabitants refer to it as Kunie. The island is just 14 kilometres wide and a maximum of 8 kilometres long, and was once used by the French government as a place of exile for political activists.

A couple of the most popular places on the island are Kuto Bay, the main aspect of which is a kilometre long white, sandy beach. Roller Bay is so named for the rolling waves which flow over the coral reef. Upi Bay is also a magnificent place, where you can board a small outrigger called a pirogue, and enjoy a gentle cruise, combined with snorkelling, across the reefs and enjoy the charm of St Joseph’s Beach.

For a truly wonderful experience, it is also possible to sail to the northern end of the bay and enjoy a 45-minute walk to Oro Bay, which has the reputation for having the best beaches and most stunning scenery on the island.

Much of it consists of a lagoon, a tidal channel and a crystal clear natural pool that is protected from the open sea by coral cliffs. Oro Bay offers the visitor peace and tranquillity in a completely unspoilt tropical paradise.

Most people visit the Isle of Pines on board cruise ships, as it is a popular stop for many cruises which sail out of Sydney and other Australian ports. When the ships do drop anchor there it does get very crowded, which is why the best way to truly enjoy the island is to make the effort to either fly or sail there from Noumea, capital of New Caledonia, so that you can totally relax without the crowds as soon as the ships depart.

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