Getting to the island of New Caledonia itself is a little adventure as it’s pretty much the furthest you can go away from my home in Europe. In my case, I had a layover in New Zealand to visit some friends, otherwise it would have been at least 25h on the road/in the air via Osaka or Sydney. So I flew from Auckland another 2,5h to Noumea and after a few days there we ventured to the Isle of the Pines for New Years, which is one of the places the closest to paradise you can imagine. As you can tell from the name, it’s covered in pine trees (of course also palm trees) which gives it a very very unique look, especially the white sand in combination with the pines.
There are two ways to get to this island, either flying or taking the ferry. As we’ve been quite late with the booking of this adventure, we decided to go for the cheaper, budget-friendly option, the ferry, which was about 80€ return fare. In New Caledonia the Pacific Franc is in use and all in all it is unfortunately a very expensive place to travel, but still incredibly beautiful. The flights range between 100-300€, depending on the time of the year and how for you can book in advance. Arriving on the isle of the pines after about 6-7h on the ferry was very pleasant, probably also because the ride itself was rather calm. We’ve heard horror stories about high waves and rough ferries, maybe we have been lucky :)! Anyway, even though we had planned to go camping, we didnt bring a lot of luggage for the 4 days in paradise, so that each of us two only had a day pack to carry off the ship. From the port we got picked up by a driver from our camp site, „Chez Loulou et Lenéne“, basically the only one left available due to our late booking right before New Years, but looking back probably the best decision we could have taken. As we arrived at our home for the next few days, we were warmly greeted by the owners Loulou and Lelène, a lovely couple with a even lovelier family, Loulou showed us our tent, which was already perfectly set up including foam mattress with a wonderful few over the private beach and the cristal clear water. As it was already afternoon, all we could do was venture around on a bicycle to the Baie d’oro and the next town but as it was already the 30st of December and a Saturday, no bank was open and no store to at least buy a little bit of food. Well, thats one thing to consider going to this island. Stock up with money before hand, as the ATM is either closed or often out of money. The beach along the camp site is lovely, so that was the end of the day, watching sunset.
The following day we went on a boat cruise around the „Baie d’upi“ in a little boat typical for this area , the Pirogue, wonderful clear water, blue sky and white sand beaches included.
The tour leaded around the eastern coast or the island through a little bay with turtles and lots of fish until we finally reached our destination, the „Piscine naturelle“, a natural swimming pool of salt water surrounded by rock formations.
From where we got off the boat it was a little trek through the forest and wading through a little river until we arrived at this little wonder of nature. Luckily, we set off very early in the morning so that we were the first ones to set foot on this spot for the day, just an hour later it was way busier. At this little lagoon, you can snorkel, swim or just enjoy the view while sitting on the beach. After about an hour, we walked to the other side of the bay to get picked up again by our boat man who then brought us back to the original point of departure where we took a rest before the celebrations of the 31st of december in the evening.
Spending the New Years Eve with a bunch of travellers mainly from France and Canada and of course the local family including tons of food like fresh crab salad and lobster right on the beach was beyond amazing and for sure an unforgettable experience.
New Years day started then a bit later than expected but nevertheless very very beautiful, cycling around the island (our host brought us to the north tip of the island with his car in the morning), seeing all the deserted beaches all for ourselves, as the north of the island is far away from resorts or any kind of tourism but still easily reachable with bicycles or ideally with a car. On our way back we found a deserted resort, could use their pool in exchange of buying a soft drink to cool down a little bit. We also went to a few caves on the way, which are also definitely worth the way and the nature and diversity of wildlife made this day unforgettable.
Our last full day in paradise then was one of the highlights of this trip, the cruise to the „Nokhanoui atoll“, a sand bank in the midddle of the blue ocean, only surrounded by water and only accessible during low tide. Only a few little trees and apart from that pure white sand, fine like flour and so white that you can’t see without sunglasses. Blinded by this beauty we just enjoyed playing on the beach and meeting a few other travellers along the beach and again we were lucky enough to be the first to reach this destination, before a few more other boats. To top up this already amazing day, our next destination was a little unnamed island to have the second lobster of this short trip, garnated with tons of fruits and rice and surrounded by flower necklaces and beautiful palm trees on white beaches.
Talking of budget, it was about 20€/night for the camping including breakfast, the New Years Eve dinner including welcome drink was around 50€, the trips between 40-50€.
The last day was only to pack bags and get on the ferry back to the port of Noumea and all together, of you happen to go to New Caledonia, don’t miss out on the Isle of the Pines!