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Inspire South Pacific
Tropical island fantasies meet reality on the Ile des Pines, a 20 minute flight or leisurely three-hour cruise from Noumea. Crystal clear lagoons lap white sand beaches, which in turn are fringed with the island’s unique combination of flora – palms and stately Araucaria pines. The island is only 18km by 14km so exploring is easy – rent a car, bike or scooter and discover your own piece of paradise. The Kunies, the local inhabitants of the island, will also sail you around this gorgeous place on one of their traditional pirogues or outrigger canoes. While the beaches are almost irresistible, Ile des Pins also has intriguing caves, the remains of a 19th century convict settlement at Ouro and even a church built by the prisoners. The diving is fantastic too so plan a stay of at least two or three days.
Your MUST DO island list:
• Bougna Feast – Take part in a traditional Kanak feast. The Bougna often contains taro, yam, sweet potato and banana, and pieces of either chicken, fish, crab, prawns or lobster wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over hot stones.
• Boat Tours – Options include a trip on a Melanesian sailing outrigger (pirogue), or a glass-bottom boat tour to view the reef’s marine life. Pirogues depart from the northern end of St Joseph’s Bay.
• Diving – There are good dive sites at Vallée des Gorgones offering a chance to see eagle rays, leopoard sharks and hard and soft corals. All diving is arranged through Kunie Scuba Centre.
• Oro Bay – North of Vao, a walk through the forest leads to two wonderful beaches and a natural swimming pool formed in the coral. Ideal for snorkelling.
• Queen Hortense's Cave – The island’s most famous cave has numerous stalactites and stalagmites, and a little stream. The cave was said to be the hiding place of Queen Hortense before her abdication in 1883. It’s located east of the airport, near Vao. Please note that caves may only be visited with a guide and permission must be sought to visit tribal sites, and a small gift presented.
• Kanumera And Kuto Bays – With their beautiful powdery white beaches and araucaria pines, these bays are the main visitor spots. There is good swimming at Kuto and good snorkelling at Kanumera.
• N'ga Peak – An hour’s walk up the summit of N’ga Peak (262m) – the island’s highest point – affords superb views of the entire island. The path begins near Gite Kuberka.
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