Popular Isle of Pines (New Caledonia) Shore Excursions
Oro Bay is a real-world aquarium. It is on the opposite side of the island from where passengers arrive, but it is worth the endeavour of driving no more than 20 minutes. The path to Oro begins beside the entrance to the five-star Le Meridien -- where you can enjoy lunch after returning from the aquarium. After a 20-minute walk through mangrove forests and past small black and orange crabs scuttling from their holes, you will emerge in a protected cove. The water is waist high in most parts, so even the weakest swimmer will enjoy this experience. Wade to the middle of the pool and stick your head underneath the water to find a kaleidoscope of tropical fish. The tropical fish are anything but shy and seem to swarm toward legs, so you are guaranteed a show any time of the day. (Editor's note: Please check with your cruise line regarding the availability of this snorkelling site, as it is not currently open to tourists.)
Take an outrigger canoe crafted by locals from Upi Bay to the offshore lagoons. Even if you don't hop aboard the traditional vessel, you will see men working on them and with a smile be able to take some good photographs.
Queen Hortense is famous on the Isle of Pines as the leader who stood up to the French government in 1872 and refused its request that she and her people abdicate their island to make way for French political prisoners. "We would rather die than leave our island," she reportedly told the authorities. She hid in Queen Hortense's cave during tribal conflict in 1855 for several months. A short walk through forest will bring you to the cave and a torch is included in the entrance fee. It can get muddy and is dark even in the day, so use caution.
Horse-riding is a great way to see the island in a different light.
Climb the Isle of Pines' tallest mountain, Pic N'ga, which rises 262 metres and takes less than an hour to summit. Given the length of this activity, it is ideal if you have visited the island previously.
The main village on the island is Vao is worth a visit if time allows. The main attraction of Vao is a church and a steep walk behind the church for a great view over the island.
Closest: Kuta Bay is closest to your arrival point. The half-moon shaped beach is not the prettiest on the island but has deeper waters than most and therefore attracts turtles and other marine life, which you can see when snorkelling.
Most Picturesque: Kanumera Bay is as immaculate a beach as we've found. The circular-shaped beach creates a natural swimming pool, protected by a large rock that is sacred to the community. The sand there is pristine, and the water clear as gin.