Isle of Pines (Ile Des Pins) is one of the many islands in the Pacific which is most known, name was. This is particularly true for those of us on the eastern seaboard of Australia in New Zealand. The Pacific Islands are to Queenslander’s what Mexico is for American’s. It does not take very long to get to, is still another country and is (or used to be), significantly cheaper than holidaying at home. It is know as ‘the Jewel of the Pacific’a and with its white ands, turquoise lagoons and the Araucaria soaring pine trees, the name is well deserved.
We had been due to go to the Isle of Pines second out of our three stops, but due to shocking weather at sea, they switched the ports around and so it was our last stop. We had slept like absolute babies the night before (I am now certain I am accustomed to being rocked slowly to sleep on a ship) and when we woke up from stillness (so strange when this happens, you become used to constant movement!), and drew the curtains back in excitement – the view was absolutely incredible!
The Isle of Pines is not just a whimsical name, it is pine-heaven and the soft breeze which was moving over the island, out across the ocean and softly onto our balcony was unbelievably inviting.
Luckily the group of people on this cruise in particular were slow-movers (or maybe just big drinkers!), so even though we were not the first off the ship (I am not sure either of us have ever failed to take advantage of a buffet breakfast 🙂 ), we were still only the second or third tender off of the ship.
There was pretty sketchy cloud coverage and raining on and off, so it was quite a cool day. We had really failed to plan at all, which was 100% a mistake. We figured we would be able to hire bikes on the island, or even a car – so we could head out to Oro Bay, for which the island is famous for. What we didn’t realise is that the cruise ship companies (to a degree) get the monopoly of the island activities and locations. So without paying for the incredibly overpriced day tour to the other side of the island, we weren’t able to get there.
What you do need to be prepared for travel-wise, is to totally let go of your expectations. What we had planned for the day was 1. Arrive at Isle of Pines. 2. Swim. 3. See Oro Bay and 4. Spend a loved up day together enjoying our last port for the trip. Now, it doesn’t matter where you come from – three out of four in any country is pretty good!
When we first got there, we walked as far as we could, making our own adventure – then we realised how happy we were so we headed back to the main section.After our failed search for a bike/bikes/car or any other mode of transport to try and get to the other side of the island, we decided to head back and ask one of the friendly locals if they could perhaps drive us across the island. We did get a two hour island tour for $25 each (not cheap but not nearly as expensive as what we would have paid for one of the organised! We had an hour and a half to wait for our tour so I think we spent that time, the very best anyone really could.
It involved exploring a completely isolated part of the beach, drinking a beer at the other end of the beach and then having a swim in the incredibly cold waters at another side of the island – where I basically koala’s onto my Husband for his body warmth and could barely move and then eating chips and gigantic sandwiches, which I managed to order in French (win!).
When our private tour departure time rolled around, it seemed our local driver had capitalised on the $25 per person fee and there were two other ladies from the cruise joining us (great!), but there were also four extremely inebriated people from the cruise (who had obviously been drinking heavily for the day) joining us. Seeing as they were obnoxious, culturally insensitive, and absolutely hammered – I won’t give them too much airtime. Safe to say they heavily impacted on the portions of the trip where we were stuck in the van with them.
Our driver explained to us that he was not able to take us to Pro Bay, as only the organised tours through the Cruise company were allowed there when a ship was in port, but he did take us to some amazing areas.
We visited Queen Hortense’s Cave, which involved a walk through a beautiful rainforest and gardens and the inside of the caves were absolutely amazing and the history of the local Queen who hid in these caves for several months during an intertribal conflict.
There were ruins and a cemetery belonging to the original French Penal Colony from the 1870’s at the Kuto Peninsular we were able to explore, which was really cool. Our driver also took us to the Mission Church and the Statue de St Maurice commemorating the arrival of the first missionaries.
It seemed like the quickest day stop ever and before we knew it, the weather had turned nd it was time to catch a tender back to the Pacific Explorer. It was an absolutely beautiful day and I am really thankful we were able to visit such a beautiful place. I highly recommend a stop or trip there if you ever get the chance!
Have you been to the South Pacific? How did you like it?
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