The Isle of Pines is the main tourist destination in New Caledonia. The island is renowned for its beautiful white sand beaches overlooking turquoise bays adorned with the characteristic columnar pines (Araucaria columnaris), which make the beauty of this island almost unreal. Let’s see what to see on the Isle of Pines.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE ISLE OF PINES: THE BEACHES OF KANUMERA AND KUTO
The most beautiful beaches of the Isle of Pines are those of Kanumera and Kuto. These beaches are located close to each other on the south western end of the island. Kuto beach is a strip of white sand over a kilometer long and from which you can enjoy the beautiful sunsets. Kanumera beach is located a few tens of meters beyond that of Kuto and both connect the Kuto peninsula to the rest of the island.
Kanumera is a white sand beach approximately 500 meters long. Among the most scenic of New Caledonia, on one side of the bay is the famous Rocher di Kanumera, a rock joined to the mainland by a strip of sand. Both beaches are dominated by tall columnar pines (Araucaria columnaris). These trees that can reach the considerable height of 50 meters. These plants make the aspects of the two bays sublime and almost surreal.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE ISLE OF PINES: THE BAY OF UPI
Another place of great beauty is the bay of Upi (Baie d’Upi), a real inland sea, located along the east coast of the island, the bay is dotted with huge rocky mushrooms that emerge from the deep blue water. The bay can be reached through an excursion made on traditional pirogues that leave from Piroghe bay or St. Joseph bay.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE ISLE OF PINES: THE NATURAL POOL
After exploring the Upi Bay by pirogue, you can disembark at the northern end of Upi bay and from here take a short walk of about thirty minutes to reach another wonder of the island. The bay of Oro (Baie d’Oro) where the famous Natural Pool (piscine naturelle) is located, a pool of sea water, which fills with the tides. Dominated by tall columnar pines and where you can observe fish and corals. The Natural Pool area can also be reached via a convenient road that leads to a nearby restaurant. From here, with a short walk, you can reach this natural wonder.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE ISLE OF PINES: PIC N’GA: THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN ON THE ISLAND
Among the most beautiful excursions to do is the walk (about 1 hour one way) that leads to the highest peak of the island, the Pic N’ga (262 meters). The path, marked by a sign, begins just outside the Kuto area, near the Gite Kuberka. The first part is flat then it starts to climb, but the path is never too hard. From the top you have wonderful views of the whole island, on one side the bay of Upi dotted with rocks and further afield the strip of white sand of the islet of Nokanhui. On the other side you can see the two bays of Kuto and Kanumera with the Kuto peninsula.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE ISLE OF PINES: THE VILLAGE OF VAO
The small village of Vao, the capital, which is located in the south of the island, is the only true village on the island. There are the town hall, a small hospital, the post office, schools, some shops, and it is enriched by a beautiful Catholic church built in 1860. Here you can not miss the beautiful Sunday mass, inside the church there are some wooden sculptures made by deportees.
On a hill above the church is a small chapel built in 1875 with a statue of the Virgin Mary, from the chapel you have beautiful views of the village of Vao and the southern coast of the island. Not far from the village in front of the bay of St. Maurice is the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which commemorates the arrival place of the first Marist missionaries on August 12, 1848. The statue is surrounded by wooden poles carved and carved by the Kanak.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE ISLE OF PINES: THE PENAL COLONY AND THE CEMETERY OF THE DEPORTED
The remains of what were once the island’s penal colony are located a short distance from the Kuto area, going north towards the airport. They were used between 1872 and 1912, what remains today are the ruins of the Comagna prison, located along the main road. A short detour from the main road leads to the water cisterns and the deportee cemetery (Cimetière des Déportés or Cimetière des Communards).
A particular place on the island are its numerous caves. The most famous being that of the Queen Ortensia (Hortense) which is located in Oumagne, almost in the center of the island not far from the airport. The cave is crossed by a small stream and is surrounded by a banyan forest. Other caves on the island are the Troisième cave and the Ouatchia cave. At the north end of the island another place to visit is the Gadji bay where there are small beaches, the bay is dotted with small islets.
Another excursion to an idyllic place is the one that leads to the white sand strip of the islet of Nokanhui, located a few kilometers south of the Isle of Pines.