After having a wonderful time in Noumea and Lifou, our last port was Isle of Pines. Everyone told me that it is the best place in New Caledonia and when we docked there, we could easily see why. It lived up to my expectations with beautiful white sand, stunningly clear blue water and impressive pine trees.
Isle of Pines was dramatically formed by a series of volcanic upheavals and is truly beautiful. After we docked, the tender boat took us to shore, Kuto Bay, and we were greeted by a French Polynesian song and dance by the locals. There is an fort like fence near this port, possibly built by the French to keep out the locals.
They also gave each of us a headband with flowers. I realised that they did their best to match the headband with our clothes, mine was pink as I was wearing pink top and AS had yellow as he had a yellow t-shirt on. After that we spotted the stand where you could get your passport stamped for $2 AUD or $200 French Pacific Franc. Unfortunately, we forget to carry our passport with us.
That day we had booked a 2.5 hours day tour to snorkel at the Natural Aquarium. It is a traditional fish reserve and popular snorkeling site which can be found on the secluded lagoon edge of Oro Bay We waited for the bus and traveled to our destination. As we traveled, we got to see the surprisingly diverse landscape of the small island. Most of the land was green and there was hardly any traffic on the road. Along the way we passed cows, local villages, lots of mango trees laden with fruit and plenty of jungle. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at our destination, got out and walked to our destination.
After a short walk through knee high water we arrived at the natural aquarium. The place is just beautiful with blue water, green trees and lucky for us blue sky as well. We set eyes on this incredible pool of blue water surrounded by the pine trees; we knew it was well worth the journey. It is a protected area which many fish have decided to call home. Like other parts of New Caledonia, we saw lots of dead corals and I was glad that both of had reef shoe on.
Oro Bay (Baie d’ Oro) is an absolute ‘must-see’ destination . It would have to be one of the most beautiful and stunning natural sites I have ever seen in my life. It is surrounded by dense vegetation with much of it being the Island’s incredible pine trees; the sand is the whitest I have ever seen and the water the most serene shade of turquoise.
We dumped our stuffs at the end of the beach and just jumped into the water. There were already some tours there already but it was a good thing because one Japanese group had bread with them, which meant there were so many fishes closer to the shore.
The water at Oro Bay is the clearest I have ever snorkeled in. It is like looking through the cleanest fish tank. You can definitely see from the surface all the way to the white sandy bottom . However, if you have been snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, you will not find the coral to be as vibrant or as interesting. We saw plenty of ‘Nemo’ fish and zebra fish and other fish of many different kinds and in terms of coral we saw clams in a range of colours and many other beautiful types of coral.
We both snorkeled and had so much fun chasing the fishes. The fish there were so confident that as I swam over them they didn’t flinch, just went about their business.
It was so much fun that I couldn’t believe that the tour was over so quick. We packed and headed to the bus to go back to Kuto bay. Before we boarded the bus we were served fresh fruits, watermelon and papaya and fresh coconut as well. They were very yummy.
Once back at Kuto Bay, we decided to walk around and find a good spot. Snorkeling was next on the plan in Kanumera Bay which is just opposite Kuto bay. There is a large rock in this area called La Rocher just off shore, which is completely off limits as it is sacred to the locals.. We took a few photos and went straight into the ocean to find more fishes. The photos taken in Isle of Pines are one of the best photos of the trip.
The water took us by surprise being a little colder than we thought and was extremely salty. There is coral in the bay but pretty old and mostly dead. The fish life is lovely and it’s easy to snorkel and watch them, the water being quite refreshing. It was not as good as Oro bay but still really beautiful.
We snorkeled around the “island rock” got some great photos while in the water and some beautiful underwater shots too. I really didn’t want to come out of the water but we had to.
After snorkeling, we walked around a very small market area to get some last minute souvenirs. I ended up buying a nice turtle made out of wood and shell.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience and loved Isle of Pines. We returned to the ship on a tender around 4pm and retreated to our cabin for some much needed rest.
Take care ,
M from nepaliaustralian