Oceania Travel

Île des Pins, Nouvelle-Calédonie

25 April 2013

So you may have noticed the title of this post is in French. That’s because it’s the true name of the island, and the first place we visited that people spoke to us in another language. We had so much fun saying bonjour to the locals, although I need to remember to not get my ouis and my sis mixed up.

Again, we arrived on this beautiful pine tree lined island by tender boat. It was absolutely gorgeous, and by far the most beautiful place we visited. The weather was mild, the ocean the most deepest blue we’d seen so far, and the attractions were immense. The only issue was that we’d been warned that the surrounding ocean was home to sea snakes (and sharp, pointy sea urchins), some of which may be poisonous. Alex absolutely despises snakes (in particular, ones that kill), and was not really in the mood for splashing about in the sea of death.

Nevertheless, we did not approach the Isle of Pines with hesitation. It was tremendously alluring. Entering the island from the jetty, you see on your left a gorgeous beach covered in sand as fine as flour, shaded by magnificently tall coconut palms. To your right is the best area for snorkeling, featuring a mammoth rock centered in a cove by another smoothly sanded beach. The rock, called La Rocha, is very sacred to the locals. Between the two bays is a cool rainforest. As I said, this island is incredible.

We wandered by foot through the rainforest and asked at a hotel if they were leasing any bicycles. Alex asked in French so they gave directions in French, and he guessed they maybe said “To your left”. There was nothing to our left so we wandered around some more until we found another hotel which had bikes parked outside the reception. We hoped they weren’t too costly, although we were yet to spend any francs so it would be nice to give back to the community regardless. We requested the bikes and they were cheaper than in Lifou, so off we rode, away from the shore to who knew where. The roads were decent so we followed signs to the closest town. On the way we found lots of papaya, mango and banana trees, as well as cassava plants. We came up to the top of a hill and had an amazing view of the pine trees along the shore of several small islands in the distance. I must reiterate the amazing deep blue color of the sea.

We continued riding until we found the main church of the town called Kuto which was a popular tourist spot. We passed a high school where the children were on their lunch recess. Their school was incredible. The students were sitting under massive palm trees, enjoying their beautiful island. I couldn’t think of anything more amazing than spending my lunch times at high school sitting under a palm tree on a tropical island.

We found a sign pointing to a grotto although unfortunately it was too far to go on our bikes. We found another sign pointing to a nearby beach so we headed that way instead. We had found a virgin statue surrounded by island sculptures, facing the beach. It was a nice discovery. Lower down on the beach was a dead black and yellow snake, famed on this island. We left.

We passed the church again but this time there were beautiful little preschoolers from the nearby primary school singing and playing. Too cute.

We rode back towards the beach, and decided to sit in the sun for a while. By this stage it was rather cloudy and windy, not at all hot but quite pleasant. We went for a quick snorkel (not really sure how I persuaded Alex to do it, what with all the poisonous snakes lurking about) but again, as it was sandy we didn’t see anything.

We were becoming rather ravenous (and chilly), so we felt the most beautiful sand between our toes one last time, and jumped back on the bikes. The island is famous for its escargot (I’ll pass thanks, I have a terrible snail phobia) and of course, seafood. A vegetarian’s paradise really. We settled on a can of Sprite for lunch (the most expensive can of Sprite ever at AUD $5), took some final photos and headed back to the hotel to drop off our lovely bikes. We returned back to the jetty via the rainforest and took one last look at the most beautiful island we’ve ever visited.

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