Situated about 107 km (62 miles) south of Noumea, the Isle of Pines is nothing short of gorgeous. Named after the thousands of Araucaria pines growing everywhere, the island has powdery white-sand beaches, azure water, rocky off-shore islets, coral, and fish by the score. It's possible to take a day trip to the main island in the group and swim and snorkel in three of its lovely bays and lunch at another. A day package through Alpha International includes a flight out of Noumea at 8:20 am and a return flight, leaving the island at 4:55 pm. On arrival there's a short drive east to Oro Bay, known as the "natural swimming pool" for its calm turquoise waters and abundance of fish and coral. After plenty of free time, trips head west for lunch at Oumea Bay and then drive south to the delightful beaches of Koto and Kanumera. Typical food served at lunch include bougna (meat and vegetables wrapped in leaves and cooked underground) and big, juicy escargot (snails) endemic to the island. You could also visit the island more cheaply by ferry (10,700 CFP round-trip), on the Betico 2—but it's a 2.5-hour trip each way. In addition to Alpha International, a handful of Noumea travel agents conduct day trips.
Noumea, New Caledonia