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Cruises to Isle of Pines (New Caledonia)

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Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) (Photo:Joel_420/Shutterstock)

About Isle of Pines (New Caledonia)

New Caledonia's Isle of Pines deserves every accolade as one of the world's prettiest islands. It's the snow-white sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters and lofty pine trees that combine to make this a visually stunning port of call. The fact that its cultural authenticity has been preserved over the years makes it the most popular port of call on many South Pacific cruises.

First sighted by European explorer Captain James Cook in 1774, this island in the archipelago of New Caledonia earned its name because of its similarity to the Scottish Highlands. But in reality, with its blue waters and white sands, it could not be more different from the wild Scottish landscapes and moors. Araucaria columnaris is known as the Cook pine and the trees thrive around the perimeter of the island, providing a handy reference point to find the coast.

The island has a colourful history. Under Napoleon's instruction, New Caledonia became a penal colony in 1854 and was seized by France. The Isle of Pines fought off French colonisation and tourist attractions pay homage to its independent spirit. New Caledonia remains a French overseas territory, but power is gradually being handed back to the local population.

Today, the indigenous Melanesian population of about 3,000 people has the final say on the way their land is used, ensuring an authentic and low-key experience. There are sacred rocks and totems scattered throughout the island, but these attractions have not been over-developed.

You won't find mass tourism here, but cruise passengers receive a friendly welcome. There's enough to keep everyone happy -- from those who love snorkelling, swimming and exploring to history buffs. The coral reefs surrounding the Isle of Pines mean ships drop anchor and tender passengers to shore.

It is a short journey to the jetty where you will have immediate access to stunning Kuto Bay and Kanumera Bay, with snorkelling available at both. Watch for the abundant sea life including sea turtles that pop their heads up every so often. They can also be seen under the pier where passengers arrive. It's no wonder this destination has so often been described as the closest island to paradise.

  • Why go to Isle of Pines (New Caledonia)?

  • Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Why go to Isle of Pines (New Caledonia)?

Pros:

One of the most popular Pacific ports with turquoise bays, grottos, French cuisine and rich history

Cons:

Sea snakes are regularly sighted when snorkeling and swimming

Bottom Line:

A paradisiac vision of powder-white sand fringed with pine trees overlooking a clear blue lagoon

Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) Cruise Port Facilities?

Your welcome to the Isle of Pines is low-key and authentic. Locals perform tribal dances on the sandy foreshore and stalls are stocked with local goodies from handmade necklaces to fresh coconuts. Some cruise ships will have a photographer on shore to take snaps of passengers against the idyllic backdrop.

A 15-minute walk to the right of the jetty is Kanumera Bay, a postcard-perfect beach with white sand lapped by turquoise waters.

Good to Know?

Leave valuables on the ship or have someone look after them if you go for a swim. Most of the activities on the island involve swimming or snorkelling, so it is a good idea to bring just swimwear, sarong, sunscreen, waterproof camera, towel and a small amount of cash for lunch and gifts. It is a relaxed island but take the usual precautions you would do so at any beach and slap on the sunscreen. The island can be fully explored during a day shore excursion.

Getting Around?

The Isle of Pines is tiny, a mere 15 km in length, and there's no public transport.

On Foot: Two stunning sights, Kanumera Bay and Oro Bay are within walking distance of the jetty where passengers arrive.

By Tour Bus: On arrival, there are tour operators that offer a visit of up to 10 attractions on the island in a mini-bus or bus.

By Bike: The hotels and resorts on the island rent bikes, so head to the nearest property to the jetty, the Hotel Kou-Bugny (Baie De Kuto; 687 24 39 88).

By Car: You can rent a car for the day from the nearby Kou-Bugny hotel. (Baie De Kuto; (687) 24 39 88)

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The currency is the Central Pacific Franc and it's a good idea to arrive at Isle of Pines with cash in small denominations. Luxury hotel Le Meridien Ile des Pins will accept credit cards if you fancy lunch or a drink there. For current currency conversion figures, visit www.xe.com

Language?

In a nod to their colonial heritage, residents speak French as well as the local Kanak language. English words are understood, but try speaking a little French, if possible. Bonjour (hello) and merci (thank you) are a good start.


Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) Cruise Reviews
Nice but if they want cruises to keep coming they need tp clean it up. Wanted to book a tour to see the turtles but we were there on New Years Day so the tour did not operate. Seriously!!Read More
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Milcho
Having been to Isle of Pines on several occasions we just did a walk around the immediate area surrounding the dock and there is ample to see and enjoy. Only a short walking distance is great beaches which allow forRead More
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iarphotographics
Upon tender to port I trekked past the ferry dock and continued along the beach front where I hiked for 2 hours ending up back at the tender dock. I found secluded beaches for swimming, saw various water birds, and Read More
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qxrobb
Isle of Pines has become my new favourite place to visit in New Caledonia.JUST BEAUTIFUL! No need to purchase a shore tour as there were 2 very beautiful swimming spots within easy walking distance and of where the tRead More
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Lynollie

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