Isle of Pines is a Pacific Ocean island located in the New Caledonia archipelago - an overseas territory of France. The island is part of L'Ile-des-Pins municipality (New Caledonia's South Province). Island's lagoon is among the South Pacific Ocean's best cruise travel destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Species of corals and tropical fish can be seen in the clear water. The island is also rich with animal life. It is home to many unusual creatures like the Crested Gecko lizard and the world's largest gecko - New Caledonian giant gecko (aka Leach's giant gecko).
Isle of Pines is surrounded by New Caledonia Barrier Reef. The island measures 15 km (9 ml) by 13 km (8 ml) and covers a total land area of approx 190 km2 ()73 ml2. It is located approx 100 km (62 ml) southeast of New Caledonia's main island Grande Terre (Noumea).
The island's highest elevation point (Pic Nga) is 262 m (860 ft). Its longest river is River Ouro. Its inhabitants are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks (population around 2,000).
The island was discovered in 1774 by Captain James Cook (1728-1779) on his 2nd voyage to New Zealand. He named the island after seeing tall native pines (Araucaria columnaris). In the 1840s Catholic and Protestant missionaries arrived, along with merchants in a search for sandal wood. The French took possession of the island in 1853 after the native indigenous population accepted the Catholicism. In 1872, Isle of Pines became a French penal colony sheltering around 3,000 political deportees from Paris France.
Isle of Pines cruise terminal
Cruise ships to the Isle of Pines dock (anchor) in Kuto Bay (on the island's southwestern coast) and their passengers are transported to the pier via the ship's tender boats.
Kuto Bay's waterfront area has market stands (selling local / hand-made souvenirs) and also food stalls (selling fresh caught seafood). At the beachfront and near the cruise pier local people great cruise passengers with traditional dancing. At close proximity to the tendering pier there are taxis and mini transportation around the island.