Ile Des Pins, New Caledonia Cruise Port

The picturesque-sounding name of Île des Pins (Isle of Pines) might just evoke images of wandering through unspoiled forests with a picnic basket in hand. This lovely island in the Pacific Ocean has plenty to offer, so cruising to Île des Pins, New Caledonia earns its nickname "The closest island to Paradise." The archipelago of New Caledonia is part of an overseas collectivity of France, and its location makes it a fantastic spot for snorkeling and diving. The approximately 2,000 residents of Île des Pins are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks, some of whom might greet incoming ships dressed in traditional costumes, accompanied by music and dancing. The island got its name from explorer James Cook – even though he never even set foot on it –after he spotted the tall pines from his ship. Here are some of our favorite experiences for the cruise port of Île des Pins, New Caledonia:
 
  • Full of natural wonders and seldom crowded, La Piscine Naturelle (The Natural Pool) is a favorite spot for swimming, snorkeling, or just relaxing. Marine life is in abundance, thanks to the multiple types of fish, coral, and maybe an octopus or two.
     
  • For more of a workout, the 860 foot-high Pic N'Ga, the island's tallest peak, begins with a trek through the woods. Along the way, you'll see both island beauty and carved native totems; although the climb isn't considered terribly strenuous, good walking shoes are a must.
     
  • If you want to learn more about one of the island's more notorious pieces of history, visit the Vestiges du Bagne. A former penal colony in the 19th century, Commune of Paris insurgents were housed on this part of the island. While much of the main complex is in various states of disarray, the recently-restored water tower built in 1874-1875 is a definite photo opportunity.
     
  • St. Maurice Bay is a delightful mix of native totems and a statue of Jesus. The latter is said to have greeted the arrival of 19th-century missionaries. The bay itself is also a wonderful place to enjoy the blue waters and breathtaking view.
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