Captain James Cook was the first European to discover Isle of Pines back in 1774. The 1840’s saw the arrival of missionaries and traders. In 1872 it became a French penal colony and the prisoners were known as the 'wretches in paradise'. Today the wretches have gone but the paradise is still there. Dubbed, 'The Jewel of the Pacific' it is no exaggeration to say that the title is deserved.
Known by the French name Île des Pins it still has a strong cultural connection where the Kunie people not only live here, but celebrate their culture. Besides its rich history and culture, the biggest attractions are stunning beaches, bays, and coral gardens. But it doesn't stop there. The island has the typical South Pacific palm trees that fringe the beaches, but behind that are very tall and narrow Araucaria pines trees from which the island gets its name.
Must see places on the island include:
Oro Bay – The most picturesque part of the island. Oro Bay has a “natural aquarium” where the diving is out of this world. Take a 15 minute walk through a shallow creek surrounded by forest which leads to an amazing natural pool ideal for snorkeling.
Kuto Bay – A wide sweeping bay with pure white sand, azure water, palms, and giant pines.
Kanumera Bay – While Kuto Bay is stunning, the last thing you would think to do is leave, yet a short 3 minute walk across a small sandy isthmus takes you to Kanumera Bay. Smaller than Kuto, it has a series of small joined bays that offer sandy coves separated by small rocky headlands and surrounded by tropical vegetation. The water here ranges from shades of green to blue and coral gardens beneath the water are ideal for snorkeling.
Araucaria pine trees – You don't have to travel anywhere to see these amazing trees, as they cover the whole island. It is what makes the island unique from other pristine tropical paradise islands in the South Pacific.
The island is located in the Coral Sea a mere 50 kilometres south-east of Grand Terre, New Caledonia's main island. The Coral Sea is also where Australia's Great Barrier Reef is located.