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

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.

8 EXCURSIONS

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A Glimpse of our Island (unguided)

1.5 hours | Isle of Pines | I P 1 - 2 9 0
  • St. Maurice Bay
  • Notre Dame de l'Assomption Catholic Church
  • Isle of Pines Penal Colony

This unguided bus tour visits some of the most important and picturesque historical sites including the French convict prison, spectacular white-sand Kuto Beach and stops briefly at Brush Island lookout to view this spectacular island decorated with tall pine trees.

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AUD$49.95

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Island Legacy

1.5 hours | Isle of Pines | I P 1 - 2 0 5
  • Grotto of Queen Hortense

Explore the islands most notable sites and discover the rich heritage of Isle of Pines and its people.

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Moderate Activity

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AUD$84.95

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Ruins in Paradise

2 hours | Isle of Pines | I P 1 - 2 4 0
  • Isle of Pines Penal Colony

Your local guide will reveal dark secrets from the past as you explore some of the remaining structures and ruins of French prison settlement from more than 100 years ago.

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AUD$89.95

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Island Escape and Swim

1.75 hours | Isle of Pines | I P 1 - 7 8 5

Take a two-minute walk to Kanumera Bay, join a small local boat with guide and explore the clear waters on the Brush Island plateau. Turtles and stingrays are often seen in these clear, pristine waters.

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AUD$149.95

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