ISLAND HOPPING TO ILE DES PINS
There are not many places in the world where you find yourself flying in a small propeller plane for 20 minutes from one island to another - hello #islandhopping. However this is exactly where I found myself recently. Can you guess where I was? If you follow my travels on Instagram then I can already hear you calling out… “ILE DES PINS!”
Uh huh! You’re correct. Very recently I went on a trip to New Caledonia to celebrate the inaugural flight from Melbourne to Noumea with Aircalin and to experience a slice of Pacific paradise on the doorstep of Australia.
Waking up early in Noumea and heading over to Magenta Domestic Airport to check in, my flight with Air Caledonie was fast – in less than 20 minutes I found myself island hopping between Noumea and Ile Des Pins. Stepping off the plane after marveling at the postcard perfect glittering waters of the island from above, I jumped on a bus with the rest of my group for a tour of the island.
Ile Des Pins is located in the Pacific Ocean, just a short flight less than three hours from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Yes, you read correctly. New Caledonia is literally that close to Australia. Located in the archipelago of New Caledonia, Ile Des Pins emerges from the World Heritage listed lagoon. It is an overseas collectivity of France, measures 18km, the locals speak both Kanak and French, there are eight native Melanesian Kanak tribes with one chief per tribe and another chief representing all of the tribes, and over 53 dialects are spoken on the island.
Combining all of the beauties of the Pacific, the relaxed way of life and a flair for never rushing time, you’ll often hear the locals explain to tourists “a quoi bon le compter, il ne s’arrêtera jamais”, which translates to ‘why measure the time, it will never end’.
The tour of the island saw us explore Kanumera Beach, St Joseph Village and it’s quintessentially beautiful church, and St Maurice. We enjoyed a traditional pirogue boat ride before making our way to the incredibly beautiful Le Meridien resort for lunch of several sumptuous courses, including the local delicacy Ile Des Pins snails, at La Pirogue, and lots Pina Coladas. Tucked among the islands signature native araucaria pines, Le Meridien is a five star resort with an incredible view over the white sands and vivid waters of Ile Des Pins. After our relaxing lunch, we explored the resort and changed into our bathers for the much anticipate hike to Oro Bay.
Happily hiking on soft, lightening white sand through a pine forest mixed with tropical palms and wading our way through the clearest water I had ever seen, after 20 minutes we finally arrived at Oro Bay. I’ve had some of the purest moments exploring nature, but nothing has come close to this. Located at an enclosed lagoon on the north east coast of the Ile Des Pins, Oro Bay is a natural shallow swimming pool with water flowing in from the Pacific Ocean through a series of narrow caves.
Surrounded by 40 metre native araucaria pine trees, I’ve never seen water as pure or clear in my entire life. Full of life with tropical fish and reef corals, we spent the afternoon snorkeling and marveling at this natural wonder. Floating in the water looking up at the sky with the pine trees beautifully surrounding the natural swimming pool, I couldn’t help but wear the biggest smile on my face. Even though we were due to board our flight back to Noumea in a couple of hours, I was going to relish and enjoy this moment for the rest of my life.