The Oumagne Grotto, better known as the Cave of Queen Hortense, is located in the north of Kunié (Isle of Pines), not far from the aerodrome. A site you must not miss!
Queen Hortense's cave is far from a unique occurrence on the Isle of Pines. A great many caves, of varying degrees of accessibility, fill the island. The most famous has always been the one belonging to the ‘queen’, in the Touété area.
A mysterious placeVoir plus
In heart of savage nature
Lost among the luxurious, tropical plantlife, crossed through by a stream and scattered with limestone pipes, Queen Hortense’s grotto is gorgeous. This quirky place, where arborescent ferns mix with heliconias and fabulous birds of paradise (the plant, not the animal!) is a call to calm and serenity. Welcome sensations when hearing the extraordinary story of Grand Chief Kaoua’s daughter!
The legend of Kanedjo
The Oumagne Grotto essentially became famous thanks to its legend. This place is said to have been a refuge for the daughter of the Great Chief Kaoua Vendégou, the young Kanedjo by her Kanak name, later renamed Hortense to pay homage to the mother of Napoleon III. So this is where Hortense took refuge when conflict broke out between the tribes. Her own feared for her safety. This woman would then take on a very important role in local history, and would always remain present in the hearts of the Kunié (inhabitants of the Isle of Pines). They also say that this brilliant queen would have been the first Melanesian to speak and write in French. In 1869 she married the Island’s future Grand Chief, Samuel Vendégou, to whom she had been engaged from a very young age.
Throw a coin onto the flagstone and make a wish...
When you enter the cave, try to find the flagstone which would have been the young queen’s bed. The tradition is to throw a coin onto it and make a wish.
Since the place is damp and therefore slippery, it is advisable to wear appropriate shoes for this surprising visit. You should also consider taking a torch which will let you take the stalactites which have been hanging here for millennia in more easily...