6. EXPLORE RUINS AND CEMETERY BELONGING TO THE ORIGINAL FRENCH PENAL COLONY
In the 1870s the Kuto Peninsula was home to a French Penal Colony (‘bagne’) which housed Communards deported from the Paris Commnune. The tender jetty in use today is in exactly the same place as the penal colony’s pier was, making it easy to imagine arriving at the island as a déporté. The colony was finally closed in 1880, when the Communards were granted total amnesty, and the survivors sailed back to France. If you wander 20 minutes inland from Kuto to Ouru, you can still see some ruins of the penal colony, and the cemetery for the prisoners who died on the island.
7. DISCOVER THE CULTURAL SIDE OF THE ISLAND
Immerse yourself in the history of the Isle of Pines by taking a guided tour to various traditional sites on the island. You will visit the small town of Vao, with the pretty Mission Church at its centre and the Statue de St Maurice commemorating the arrival of the first missionaries.
8. RELAX AT KANUMERA AND KUTO BAY
A narrow peninsula separates Kanumera Bay and Kuto Bay. Both of which feature stunning white sand beaches and turquoise waters ideal for swimming and snorkelling. The coral reef just off the shore of Kanumera Bay is home to a range of intriguing marine life.
Kanumera and Kuto Bay are one of the locals best kept secrets!
9. DISCOVER THE UNDERWATER WORLD OF THE ISLAND
The Isle of Pines is recognised as on of the best diving location in New Caledonia for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Diving is particularly interesting at Isle of Pines because of its diversity. There are numerous diving locations along the reef offering a constantly changing panorama of drop-offs, corridors, passages and sea grottos. There are over 15 dive sites, all around the breathtaking Bay of Gadji. The more experienced divers can venture down to the mysterious freshwater underground caves known as “Grotte de la Troisième”, reachable only by a narrow underwater corridor. Night dives in Isle of Pines are renowned for its mysterious atmosphere, with the sea snakes and loggerhead turtles.
All diving is arranged through Kunie Scuba Centre.
10. EAT THE ISLE OF PINES' FAMOUS SNAILS
Yes, snails. The “bulimes” or “Escargots de l’Ile des Pins” are endemic to the Isle of Pines and live in the forest. They are farmed by the locals and are a delicatessen you can find in most of the restaurants on the island.
If you are not a fan of snails try the freshly caught grilled lobster at KouGny Restaurant in Oro Bay, or indulge yourself at Le Meridien.
Video: Say hello to Isle of Pines!