Isle of Pines Map
The strikingly beautiful Isle of Pines, 70 kilometers southeast of New Caledonia's main island, was so named by Captain Cook for the towering pine trees which line its shores. The indigenous name of the island is Kwenyii or Kunie.
The island was famous in early colonial times for the French penal colony here from 1871 to 1879. Some 3,900 political prisoners from the Paris Commune was held here and many are buried in a cemetery just beyond the penal colony ruins at Ouro.
Today the Isle of Pines is one of New Caledonia's top tourist attractions with an exclusive Meridien Resort on Oro Bay. Less expensive family-operated pensions face lovely Kanumera Bay, its emerald waters bordered by the whitest of sands. Nearby Kuto Bay also has a fine beach and wind for windsurfing. Gadji Pass off the north end of the island is one of many scuba diving locales.
Aside from beautiful beaches, the Isle of Pines has numerous limestone caves to explore. Paradise Cave contains a lake where you can swim, while the Oumagne Caves swallow an underground stream. Hikers can get a view of the entire island from Pic Nga (262 meters) just behind the guest houses of Kanumera.
Highspeed catamaran ferries from New Caledonia's capital Noumea, tie up to a wharf on the Kuto Peninsula, walking distance from the pensions. Isle of Pines Airport in the center of the island receives several flights a day from Magenta Airport in Noumea. Administrative facilities such as the post office, bank, clinic, and main church are in the small village of Vao.