Falling in Love with Paradise: Isle of Pines

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The finest whitest sand, the clearest sparkling waters, the greenest sentinel pines outlined against the bluest sky – Isle of Pines is truly a paradise!

Here we are, lounging on the shore of Kuto Bay – a warm gentle breeze is refreshing, and the water changes colour through every hue of blue you can imagine as we sit and contemplate how we can stow away on one of those boats at anchor. 

How long do these boats stay?  Who knows, except that once you have arrived you would need to have a very good reason to leave.

As we sat on the beach we spotted a huge sea turtle so close to the shore – we watched him swim amongst the anchored boats, seemingly unbothered by the human occupation of his domain.

The Bay curves seductively, and invites a slow meander from one end to the other – toes in the silky soft sand and crystal clear water.  There is no swell to speak of, just the very gentle lapping of the water and the occasional call of a small bird in the trees lining the shore.

Later as the sun sets, we get to experience the Bay in a whole new light – the stunning transformation as the golden orb of the sun rapidly drops into the ocean, and finally the whole horizon bathed in the most wonderful orange.

As a cruise ship passenger who has been lucky enough to visit the Isle of Pines you probably know and love Kuto Bay as we do. 

Arriving by ship you can be forgiven for discovering the Bay of Kuto and not wanting to go any further!  The water captivates the senses, and the subtle shift in clouds or breeze creates an ever-changing palette of blues that you just can’t get enough of.

Staying over on the island, we were able to see more of the Isle of Pines than you usually would on a one day cruise stop and we can verify that the whole island truly is “the island closest to Paradise”.

At 15km x 13km – a very small island, it really packs it in!  The island stays true to its natural beauty throughout; there are no obvious signs of human over-development or interference.  So if you want to experience nature at its finest you are in the right place!

From the sublime blues of the bays to the vibrant greens of the inland grottos and the outstanding panorama from the highest peak you can’t help but keep clicking away on the camera.  Every time you think you have the perfect shot you are somehow drawn to shoot again in an effort to capture the true essence of the place. No matter how hard we tried, or how many shots we took we don’t think we could ever truly do the Isle of Pines justice on camera.

In the 1800’s the Isle of Pines was used as a convict settlement for French Prisoners.  Today it is home to around 2000 mainly local people (the Kunie) who are grouped into a number of tribes living across the island.  French is the official language, and English is not normally spoken outside of tourist hotels. You will however receive a friendly “Bonjour” wherever you go.

Seafood is a specialty across the island for obvious reasons, but trying the less standard (but quite famous) Isle of Pines Snails is a delight to the senses and a not to be missed experience unique to the Isle.

 

There are 3 or 4 main roads that criss-cross the island and you can drive from one end to the other in just over half an hour.

On our first day on the Isle of Pines we were content to roam along the shore of Kuto & Kanumera Bays, both different but equally spectacular. Once we were able to drag ourselves away from the beach we tackled the highest peak (Pic N’Ga 262m) to enjoy a stunning birds-eye perspective.

The next day we spent a full day with a hire car exploring the rest of the island: Piscine Naturelle (the clearest water you will ever see), Oro Bay (with a walk through a river to reach it), the Grotto de Hortense (stunning ferny grove & limestone cave) the Bay of Crabs (stark & moon-like but aptly named), Kodjeue Bay, St Maurice Bay, St Joseph Bay (to watch the traditional pirogues coming in), the Village of Vao (with its local fresh market) and more nooks and crannies of this fascinating island.

There really is so much to see and explore on the Isle of Pines, so much to love about every inch of the island.  All quite diverse and all stunningly beautiful – trying to find a favourite spot will be impossible.

Have you missed out if you just sit on Kuto Bay for the day?

Well, no…… how can you feel you missed out when you just spent a day in one of the most stunning locations on the planet!

But, yes……. Adventure, discovery and even more beauty await those who want to explore!

No-where on the island is better than Kuto Bay – just different!

Stay tuned in future blog posts to learn more about the adventures we had on Isle of Pines.

Do you have a special place that holds your heart from your travels?  Tell us about it in the comments below and sign up to receive our blog in your mail box every week.

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