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Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

The Isle of Pines (French: Île des Pins; name in Kanak language Kwênyii: Kunyié) is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France. The island is part of the commune (municipality) of L'Île-des-Pins, in the South Province of New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines is nicknamed l'île la plus proche du paradis ("the closest island to Paradise").

The island measures 15 km (9.3 mi) by 13 km (8.1 mi). It lies southeast of Grande Terre, New Caledonia's main island and is 100 kilometers (62 mi) southeast of the capital Nouméa. The Isle of Pines is surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.

The inhabitants of the island are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks.

The island is rich with animal life and is home to unusual creatures such as the crested gecko Rhacodactylus... Read more

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

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The Isle of Pines (French: Île des Pins; name in Kanak language Kwênyii: Kunyié) is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France. The island is part of the commune (municipality) of L'Île-des-Pins, in the South Province of New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines is nicknamed l'île la plus proche du paradis ("the closest island to Paradise").

The island measures 15 km (9.3 mi) by 13 km (8.1 mi). It lies southeast of Grande Terre, New Caledonia's main island and is 100 kilometers (62 mi) southeast of the capital Nouméa. The Isle of Pines is surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.

The inhabitants of the island are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks.

The island is rich with animal life and is home to unusual creatures such as the crested gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus and the world's largest gecko Rhacodactylus leachianus.

The pic Nga is the island's highest point, at 262 meters (860 ft) elevation. River Ouro is the longest river.

Melanesian people lived on the island for over 2000 years before the island was first visited by Europeans. Captain James Cook in 1774 saw the island and renamed it on his second voyage to New Zealand. Cook gave the island its name after seeing the tall native pines (Araucaria columnaris). He never disembarked onto the island, but as he saw signs of inhabitance (smoke) assumed it was inhabited. In the 1840s Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, along with merchants seeking sandalwood.

The French took possession of the island in 1853 at which time the native Kunies opted for the Catholic religion. In 1872 the island became a French penal colony, home to 3,000 political deportees from the Paris Commune.

 


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Isle of Pines, New Caledonia: Port Information


The island is surrounded by coral reefs which makes docking of cruise liners impossible. That's why it is a tender port, and cruise passengers are transported ashore by tender boats.

Get around Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


You can explore the island on foot. However, a bike or a motorbike would be the most convenient way to get around.
Besides, you can take a taxi or rent a car. 

What to see in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


  • Catholic Church (L'église de Vao), Vao. The large, white and red Catholic Church dominates the center of Vao. Built in 1960 by the island's convicts, it is still used on a daily basis by the island's many Christians. Masses are held 06:30 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 18:30 on Tuesday and Friday, and the main mass at 09:00 on Sunday.
  • Ruins of the convict prison (Vestiges du bagne), Wèro (1km up the road north of Kuto). The prison buildings of the former convict colony lie in ruins as an eerie reminder of the island's dark past. The main complex lies behind an imposing, brick wall, with the entrance accessible up a small set of steps from the main road. Inside, paths have been cut through the tall grass allowing visitors to explore the surprisingly-intact buildings. Old graffiti has been etched into some of the cells, with rusted iron bars still covering the windows. A smaller building sits adjacent in slightly worse condition, while 150m up the nearby access road is a recently-restored water tower. Free.
  • Convict cemetery (Cimetière des Déportés), Wèro (Take the turnoff 2km north of Kuto, then straight for 700m). The final resting place of hundreds of convicts, many of them Paris Communards who died due to poor conditions or while mounting an unsuccessful ocean escape. The names of most who died are written on a memorial, although few of the graves are marked.
  • Bay of St Maurice and Statue of Jesus (Baie de Saint-Maurice), Vao (From town center, right turn after the market, then first left for 500m). A beach sits at the shore of this beautiful, turquoise bay. A statue of Jesus, surrounded by traditional totem poles etched with faces, denotes the arrival of Marist missionaries in the 19th century, while also remembering locals who died for France in the First World War.
  • Vao Town Hall (Mairie de L'Île des Pins), Vao (East of the town center, on the road towards Kuto), ☎ +687 461103, e-mail: mairie-pins@canl.nc. The island's town hall is a humble building with traditional Kanak styling incorporated in its architecture. While not a tourist attraction as such, visitors are welcome to view the informative noticeboard, which includes cruise ship arrivals, recently passed laws and major upcoming events.

What to do in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


  • Kunie Scuba Centre.
  • Natural Pool (La Piscine Naturelle).
  • Pic N'ga.

What to eat and drink in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


  • Snack Kohu (Take the signposted turn-off to the left for 500m near the market square), ☎ +687 461023. M-F 9:30 am-3:30 pm. A small little lunch bar just to the north of the main part of Vao, and the only real restaurant on the Isle of Pines not attached to a hotel. Offers chicken, beef, and American-style sandwiches, along with soft drinks, milkshakes, and coffee. Also sells fries, mixed salads, main course meals, and desserts. 

Shopping in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


  • Boulangerie de Wèro (Wèro Bakery), Wèro.
  • Creations Île des Pins, Kuto, ☎ +687 461268.
  • Curios Maliska (Épicerie de Wèro).
  • Vao Market (Marché de Vao), Vao (100m east of Church on the main road). W, Sa 06:00-11:00. A twice-weekly market specializing in local produce. Come earlier when it's more lively and the food is fresher.

Safety in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


New Caledonia is fairly safe, but it is wise to take the following precautions:
  • When snorkeling, avoid contact with sea urchins, which are often poisonous, and coral structures, which can cause scrapes that swell badly and take a long time to heal.
  • A sea snake known locally as the Tricot Rayé has a potentially lethal venom but is not aggressive when left alone, and only attacks when threatened.
  • There are sharks, some of them quite large, though Great White Sharks are rare. Avoid shark attacks by:
           - Not carrying fish that you have caught (and may be bleeding) while in the water
           - Facing the shark, so that to the shark you appear large, vertical and difficult to bite
  • There are no crocodiles native to New Caledonia. Rogue individuals have been observed on the island no more than twice within the past 200 years, probably swept out from the Solomon Islands.

Language spoken in Isle of Pines, New Caledonia


The official language is French, and it is difficult to find English speakers outside of Noumea. To enjoy a place like this, you should really endeavor to learn some French.

LOCAL TIME

3:53 am
June 19, 2019
Pacific/Noumea

CURRENT WEATHER

22.07 °C / 71.726 °F
light rain
Wed

21.78 °C/71 °F
few clouds
Thu

21.85 °C/71 °F
light rain
Fri

21.87 °C/71 °F
light rain
Sat

21.89 °C/71 °F
light rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

XPF

1 USD = 0 XPF
1 EUR = 0 XPF
1 GBP = 0 XPF
1 AUD = 0 XPF
1 CAD = 0 XPF

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