If you find Oro Bay a bit too crowded for your taste, a half hour's hike across the forest takes you to less visited Upi Bay.
It may not be quite as stunning as the better-known beaches around the island, but is still not bad...
Perhaps the most picturesque corner of an island that seems to be beautiful wherever you look, Oro Bay with its "natural aquarium" and standing rock attracts more visitors than anywhere else on the island and is the only spot that gets close to what could be called "crowded". Nevertheless, it is not to be missed!
Just north of St. Maurice Bay, this bay has a collection of the traditional pirogues the island is famous for. Such traditional watercraft have mostly disappeared from the rest of New Caledonia, but here tourism has demanded their preservation! ;-)
One of the most-photographed images of the island is the line of carved posts surrounding an ugly, silver-coloured statue of Jesus (left off the photos) here.
They stand on the shores of St. Maurice Bay, only about 500 metres from the church in Vao.
Vao is the main settlement on the island, dominated by a fine church.
It also has New Caledonia's most photographed carvings, yet because most tourists stick to the beaches it is very quiet most of the time.
Incredibly, this gorgeous island was once the site of a penal settlement.
There are a few crumbling ruins from that era, such as this thick wall that once separated the administrative areas and the military from the convicts.
A large, overgrown limestone rock jutting out into Kanumera Bay and connected to it by a narrow sandbar is one of the most popular scenic wonders of this island.
Old guidebooks warn that it's on private land where trespassers are not welcome, but these days it seemed to be freely accessible.
Just south of Kuto, separated from it by a narrow isthmus that forms the entrance to the Kuto Peninsula, Kanumera Bay rivals Kuto in terms of beauty, and is home to some of the island's best snorkelling spots. It also has two *relatively* inexpensive resorts.
This perect horseshoe-shaped bay has one of the very finest beaches in the South Pacific.
It is very accessible, being right next to the wharf where the ferries coming from Noumea dock, and has accomodation as well.
You'd expect it to be crowded, but somehow it isn't - just click on the photo to see how many tourists were enjoying it at the time of my visit!
The ship that we were on was anchored, the tide was running out, the anchor chain clutch slipped, the ship ran out along the achor chain, when it got to the end of the chain the weight of the vessel now moving at speed dragged the anchor, we spun around and beached on a coral reef and island!
You can just make out the French divers on the beach that are entering the water. They were flown in within 2 hours of the ship running aground and they inspected every square inch of the hull to ensure that the hull was not breached and we were not taking on water. This task took until 5 pm the next day!
The life boats were launched as a precaution but by this time media and television stations had choppers in the air filming the stricken ship while the passengers were playing all sorts of games and drinking duty free alcohol on board! there were even small pleasure craft overflowing with locals all coming out to have a look at this ocean liner that had run aground!!!!
It does not matter what isolated country you travel to in teh world, the local kids love having their photograph taken. Just spending the time to say hello and make the feel special will make their day and give them something to remember for some time. Go that extra step and kick a footy with them and give them a couple of dollars to spend on themselves will probably make their year!
Every day when the cruise ships are anchored in the bay, local villagers come to the waterfront (in front of the Hotel Kou-Bugny) and performance traditional dances. This proves a master stroke by them as the constant drum beat and chanting draws the crowns to watch. While this is happening the ladies set up stalls and begin to offer free samples of local cakes while they also sell drinks and hot meals of the local fare. This is a great experience and will entertain you for a good couple of hours.
Apart from the obvious, swimming, sunbathing and relaxing, the Isle of Pines would have to be one of the most spectacular and picturesque areas that the South Pacific has to offer. Kato and Kanumera Bays are spectacular in themselves and a walk around the shores of both bays should not be missed. There are plenty of photo opportunities to be had along the way and you can treat yourself to coffee and cake at one of the resorts at the end of these bays.
The main Bay on the Isle of Pines is called "KUTO BAY" and the jetty is the top of this bay. Beside the jetty you can hire an outrigger canoe with a guide who will sail you around the bay for approx 25 minutes for AUS$20.00.
Kanumera Bay is a short five or ten minute walk from the jetty on the Isle of Pines. As you stroll along the road you will come across a small kiosk that is sparsely stocked with food and drinks and a single cubicle toilet that is shared by both male and female. You can hire snorkelling gear at a nearby resort or from your cruise ship, if you do not bring your own gear with you.