While you’ll find that Fiji has become one of the first destination of the Pacific amongst those looking for a luxurious escape, you might consider Ile of Pines instead. Part of the French overseas territory in the Pacific Ocean, Ile of Pines is commonly referred as the “closet island to Paradise”, providing luxury in a way that is difficult to find anywhere else.
Less than half an hour away by flight from the Grande Terre (New Caledonia – Nouméa) and flying over the dramatic Pacific Southern lagoon, Ile of Pines is indeed a dream holiday destination with white beaches, colourful coral reefs, turquoise waters and is home to the emblematic Columnar pine trees. But what is more to like about the island is that while you are here to forget about the stress from your everyday life and your relax on the beach, it is also a great place for nature and sport lovers.
Ile of Pines is renowned for its marine wildlife, clear waters, very mild temperatures and unspoilt diving spots. Surrounded by the second longest double barrier coral reef in the world (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the island has exceptional snorkelling and diving opportunities. Local tour companies will take you to watch and swim with turtles, sharks, stingrays, manta rays, dolphins and porpoises.
If you are seeking for an incredible adventure, board on a wooden handcrafted pirogue used by local fisherman from Saint Joseph bay to Upi bay. Sail across gigantic rocks sprinkled across crystalline waters and dive in at any time in the perfectly calm water. Once on the shore, a short walk through the forest will take you to the island’s most famous attraction: a natural shallow swimming pool set to a backdrop of tall pine trees in which you can appreciate the extraordinary marine flora and fauna.
There are a host of activities available ranging from canoe rides or paddle boarding to a one-hour hike up N’ga Peak (262m), the island’s highest point with a breath-taking 360 degrees view over the beautiful bays ranging from dark blue to transparent colour waters. Nearby, Kanumera Bay, one of the best snorkelling spot for beginners (and experienced snorkelers). Enjoy a wide range of multi-coloured exotic fishes right off the island’s sacred rock. If the place can be busy at times when large cruise boats anchor in Kuto Bay, you can enjoy your afternoon sitting at in one of the café or restaurant offering light refreshments and delicious French food.
Take a tour to the main village of Vao to enjoy the island’s local art, taste some fresh coconut drinks and local food and buy locally made products at the market. A guided tour at the extraordinary Saint Maurice site, where Christian monument stands side by side with wooden Kanak totems, will give you some insights into Kanak culture and its tribal system in modern society. Another site to visit in the North of Kunié is the sacred cave called “Queen Hortense cave”, a giant limestone cave scattered with gigantic stalactites and stalagmites which served as a refuge to the young queen Hortense when conflict broke out between the tribes.
For honeymooners and couples wanting a spectacular and romantic getaway, Le Meridien Hotel is an exclusive resort, remotely located on the north east of the Island and nestled on a fine white sand beach, With the mystical salty water lagoon on its door step and its own private swimming pool, you will overlook the beautiful azure water of Oro Bay Beach and its stunning sunsets. Guests have a wide range of choice of accommodations from superior room to bungalow with a panoramic view and a beach access. Make the most of your holiday by getting pampered in the resort beautiful SPA and getting truly relaxed.