We left Fiji on our return voyage back to Sydney making a stop at the beautiful Ile des Pins in New Caledonia. This unique group of islands lie just to the south-east of the main island of New Caledonia and have wonderful tall pine trees adorning the coral sand islands.
L’Île-des-Pins is a commune in the South Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. L’Île-des-Pins is made up of the Isle of Pines, the smaller Kôtomo Island, and several islets around these two, as well as the distant island of Walpole, which is located almost 150 km (93 mi) to the east. The Isle of Pines and adjacent islands are located to the south of New Caledonia’s mainland. The settlement of Vao, on the Isle of Pines, is the administrative centre of the commune of L’Île-des-Pins.
L’Île-des-Pins is one of the main tourist attractions in New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines itself is nicknamed l’île la plus proche du paradis (“the closest island to Paradise”). L’Île-des-Pins can be reached by boat or plane from Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia. It is renowned for the intense blue colors of its waters and for the ancient pine tree groves spread throughout the Isle of Pines and the neighboring islands.
After the Paris Commune (1871), about 2,800 Parisian insurgents were deported to L’Île-des-Pins, a part of whose territory was turned into a penal settlement where the convicts lived for several years.
In 2005 L’Île-des-Pins gained attention when season 5 of French reality show Les Aventuriers de Koh-Lanta (“The Adventurers of Koh Lanta”), the French version of Survivor, was set on several small islands off the Isle of Pines.
On our arrival at the small pier by tender from the cruise ship we were welcomed by a group of locals giving a wonderful display of dancing. Since this was the first time that our cruise company had landed here there was a small ceremony at the pier with an exchange of gifts along with the local tribal dance display.
We wandered around the area close to the pier which had some beautiful beaches and coves with some great snorkelling.
The trees on the island were really interesting and other than the wonderful tall pine trees there were also some very old and twisted trees which made for some great photos.
There was evidence from the many felled and broken trees in the sea of the recent typhoon which had caused a lot of damage on the island.
Before returning to our ship we had a welcome (and expensive) local cold beer at a small restaurant on the beach front looking out to where our ship was anchored in the bay.
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