Ile des Pins, New Caledonia

Turtle Bay and Brush Island

N’Ga Peak

Queen Hortense’s Grotto

 

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Ile des Pins

A Happy Retreat

Today the tiny island of Isle of Pines in New Caledonia has a small airport, but at one time, the only way to reach it was by following the same sea path as visitors on an MSC cruise ship in Kuto Bay

This corner of the South Pacific was the home of rebels and criminals sent there by the French government in the second half of the 19th century. 
 
The prison facilities have been abandoned for decades but can still be visited among the pastures and cultivated fields found along the sides of the road 
 
Four times smaller than Tahiti, Isle of Pines is an incomparable tourist destination thanks to its warm, blue, crystalline waters and white sandy beaches. It's hard to believe that in the past it was chosen to be a prison. 
 
Other highlights that are more interesting than the ruins of the prison bath are N’Ga Peak, the highest point on the island, and Queen Hortense’s Grotto, the most famous of its numerous caves. Just 262 meters from N'Ga Peak, you will find the tall pines that give Isle of Pines its name and which struck the imagination of explorer James Cook when he arrived in 1774.
 
On an MSC Cruises small boat excursion, you will discover Isle of Pines’ coastline and enchanting places including Ilôt Brosse (Brush Island): a desert island just a few miles away. Starting from sheltered Kanumera Bay with its twin beaches, you can head towards Turtle Bay, true to its name as the home of a colony of green and loggerhead sea turtles. Visitors to Brush Island can snorkel or relax on the beach just steps away from the column of pines that make these islands unique in the world.

Must see places in Iles des Pins

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    New Caledonia

    At the Edge of the Coral Sea
    At the Edge of the Coral Sea

    The archipelago of New Caledonia is fifteen hundred kilometres away from the coast of Queensland, and is heading towards a referendum on independence from France, which between the mid-19th and early 20th century mainly used it as a penal colony.

    Today, the MSC World Cruise stops at the main island, Grande Terre, where New Caledonia’s capital and largest city is situated on a jagged peninsula: Nouméa
     
    The Îles Loyauté, Îles des Pins and Îles Belep are just a few of the large nearby islands. 
     
    James Cook gave the northern part of Grande Terre the name New Caledonia in 1774: Caledonia was the name the Romans gave to Scotland and it appears that the explorer found similarities between these two lands. 
     
    The island is crossed by a single, unbroken mountain range that extends from North to South, hiding an array of small lakes and waterfalls. The island’s indigenous population, the Kanaks, mainly lived on the coast and depended on the cultivation of yams. 
     
    One of New Caledonia’s wonders is the Îles des Pins (Isle of Pines), and tourists arriving from Nouméa can’t help but fall in love with its crystal clear bays and lagoons.