Destination Guide: Ile des Pins – New Caledonia

isleofpines

With its lagoons and reefs, ocher-coloured mountains and thick bush, New Caledonia is a real life wonderland for nature lovers, and the opportunities to marvel at Mother Earth’s fine work are especially superb in Île des Pins, a tiny island a 20-minutes flight away from the capital, Nouméa.

Aerial View of Ile des Pins

Aerial View of Ile des Pins

Captain James Cook discovered it in 1774 and named it Isle of Pines because of the predominance of Araucaria conifers trees in the ontherwise tropical setting. It feels like a world apart from the city, with its long powdery beaches and unbeliavable azure waters.

To discover some of the best spots the island has to offer, head to Ouameo Bay where the Kunie Scuba Center - operating on the island since 1974 – can help organize a variety of trips, from night dives to cave excursions.

idp_carte_geo If you ever wanted to swim with thousands of colorful tropical fish, in shallow, warm, turquoise waters la Piscine Naturelle is a must visit while on the island: a natural pool in Oro Bay bordered by coral cliffs, which form protection from the open sea.

Piscine Naturelle

Piscine Naturelle

HOW TO GET THERE: the island is located less than 20 minutes by air (and 2h15 by speedboat) from Nouméa.

WHEN TO GO: The island enjoys a tropical climate, tempered by the influence of the ocean and the periodic El Niño and La Niña currents, with winds prevailing in the east and south-east (the Trade Winds).

Austral summer: warm and humid, from mid-November to mid-April: maximum temperature: 28 to 32 ° C and high humidity.

First season of transition: from mid-April to mid-May: less precipitation and lower temperatures.

Austral winter: the cool season, from mid-May to mid-September: temperatures between 15 and 25 ° C.

Second season of transition: the dry season, from mid-September to mid-November: temperatures between 18 and 26 ° C, very low rainfall.

WHERE TO SLEEP: Set in the spectacular Oro Bay, Le Méridien Ile des Pins is not a bustling super resort, but rather a boutique hotel with only 50 bungalows, 10 deluxe rooms, 25 bungalow suites, and 4 cliff-top bungalows. La Pirogue Restaurant offers an array of choices, from a relaxed barbecue lunch, to fine dining on fresh-caught seafood.

Le Meridien's bedroom

Le Meridien’s bedroom

WHERE TO EAT: the restaurant at the Nataiwatch Guesthouse is definitely one the best on Isle of Pines, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6,30 AM to 8PM.

In Oro Bay have lunch at Kou-Gny: amazing lobster or fish on the water’s edge  – it’s the epitome of dreams.
Fish menu (3 course) : 3 600 cfp Lobster menu (3 course) : 5 000 cfp. Bookings necessary: (+687) 46 10 65 or (+687) 91 17 94

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