Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

With radiant turquoise waters hiding a wealth of colorful corals and fish below, Isle of Pines is a wonderful place to dive and explore. Although this breathtaking island has been nicknamed "the closest island to Paradise," it once served as a penal colony to thousands of French deportees.

Pottery found on the island dates back to 1500 B.C., although the discovery of the island is most often attributed to Captain James Cook, who sailed by during a voyage to New Zealand in the 18th century. Cook named the island after its towering native pines, but he never set foot on land, presumably threatened by the sight of smoke rising above the trees.

The great explorer missed out on some of the most fascinating treasures ashore. From the tiniest endemic creatures to the far-reaching views offered by its highest peak, Isle of Pines is a unique island destination with plenty to discover.

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Points of Interest

  • Notre Dame de l'Assomption Catholic Church
  • Grotto of Queen Hortense
  • Isle of Pines Penal Colony
  • Pic Nga
  • St. Joseph's Bay
  • St. Maurice Bay
  • Le Meridien Resort
  • Turtle Bay
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More about Isle of Pines, New Caledonia Points of Interest

  • Notre Dame de l'Assomption Catholic Church

    Built in 1860 by local Kunyiés, missionaries and convicts. Behind the church you'll find a path that winds its way to a small chapel and panoramic views of the village and lagoon.

  • Grotto of Queen Hortense

    Believed to be the sanctuary of the last Kunie royal in 1855.

  • Isle of Pines Penal Colony

    Once home to nearly 3,000 French political prisoners, Isle of Pines still holds the ruins of its penal colony as well as Cimetiere des Deportes, the final resting place of its inhabitants.

  • Pic Nga

    On a clear day, you can peer out from the island's highest point, Pic Nga, and see miles into the distance, with a fantastic view of the island and the turquoise waters beyond.

  • St. Joseph's Bay

    Also known as Canoe Bay, this picturesque harbor makes for an interesting photo opportunity to see the outrigger-style pirogues (traditional sailing vessels.)

  • St. Maurice Bay

    Here stands a monument that commemorates the first landing of European missionaries on the Isle of Pines in 1848. Surrounding the statue of St. Maurice are protective totems called "kanaks" often depicting ancient gods, serpents, hawks, turtles and eagles.

  • Le Meridien Resort

    Nestled on Oro Bay, a natural lagoon protected by a colorful coral reef, the resort sits on eleven acres of coconut groves, encircled by Columnar pines.

  • Turtle Bay

    Bordered by a forest of pine trees, "La bai des Tortues" overflows with loggerhead and green sea turtles.

7 EXCURSIONS

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A Glimpse of our Island (unguided)

1.5 hours | Isle of Pines | IP1-290
  • St. Maurice Bay
  • Notre Dame de l'Assomption Catholic Church
  • Isle of Pines Penal Colony

This engaging 90-minute tour showcases the island's beauty, history and cultural wonders beginning with a drive past lovely Kuto beach. Then, enjoy a photo stop looking out over Brush Island, home to manta rays and loggerhead turtles. Once in the small village of Vao, you'll make a brief stop at Saint Maurice Bay. Here stands the statue of Saint Maurice, commemorating the first landing of European missionaries in 1848. Around it are protective "kanak" wood carvings of serpents, turtles and eagles. In the heart of the village stands the quaint Notre Dame de l'Assomption Church, which was built in 1860 by local Kunyiés, missionaries and convicts. Behind the church you'll find a path that winds its way to a small chapel and panoramic views of the village and lagoon. Finally, rejoin your coach for the scenic ride back to your ship.

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Easy Activity, Shopping Opportunities

From

AUD$49.95

Island Legacy

2 hours | Isle of Pines | IP1-205

Take a guided tour of breath-taking Isle of Pines visiting the mysterious grotto of Queen Hortense and Vao Village where you'll see Notre Dame de l'Assomption and the statue of Saint Maurice.

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Easy Activity, Shopping Opportunities

From

AUD$84.95

Ruins in Paradise

2 hours | Isle of Pines | IP1-240
  • Isle of Pines Penal Colony

Even Island Paradise has its dark secrets from the turmoil of history. Your local guide will reveal this hidden past as you discover some of the old remaining structures and visit ruins left from the times of French prison settlement from more than 100 years ago.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities

From

AUD$89.95

Moro Island Lagoon Explorations

2 hours | Isle of Pines | IP1-590

Join your local guide for the exploration of Moro Island Lagoon and discovering its hidden treasures. After meeting your boat captain, we will set off from Kuto Beach and cruise towards Moro Island. Upon arrival to shallow lagoon waters your captain will point out different varieties of coral and rock formations below the ocean surface. Afterwards you will have some leisure time to snorkel or swim. Bring your own snorkeling equipment for the best underwater visibility.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities

From

AUD$144.95

Island Escape and Swim

2 hours | Isle of Pines | IP1-785

Join your local guide on a scenic boat exploration of the turquoise lagoon on the way to one of the Islands. Escape crowds and enjoy the boat ride and quiet time on the beach. If the turtles are feeling really friendly, you might be able to join them in the water for a swim!

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities

From

AUD$149.95

A Day at Le Meridien Resort

4.5 hours | Isle of Pines | IP1-990
  • Le Meridien Resort

Enjoy the island's many man-made wonders with a half-day excursion to Le Meridien resort. From the pier you'll travel a scenic route towards Oro Bay. Along the way, you'll pass through the village of Vao, home to Notre Dame de l'Assomption Church and a statue of St. Maurice. Once you arrive at Le Meridien, a guide will lead you around the resort's sprawling eleven acres before sitting down for a delicious barbecue buffet. Then, the rest of the time is yours to do as you please. All the resort's aquatic and sports equipment are at your disposal, as well as the pool and a private beach. Or you can grab a beach chair and stretch out or shop for souvenirs. It may be hard to say goodbye but at the end of this memorable excursion, you'll return to your coach and head back to the pier, relaxed and refreshed.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities, Includes meal

From

AUD$199.95