Visiting Isle of Pines, New Caledonia..."New' places to visit...The fun continues with flourish...



View of the shore as our tender pulled into the dock at Isle of Pines, New Caledonia.
This itinerary's ports of call are a little repetitive for us. Having been to most of these ports, we tend to hesitate when considering if its of interest to get off the ship. In many cases, since we don't shop, visiting ports we've visited in the past holds little appeal.


As soon as we disembarked the tender we walked toward the rows of shops.
These two ports of call on this ship's itinerary we'd hadn't visited in the past are:  Isle of Pines, New Caledonia and Mystery Island, Vanuatu both of which we visited over the past several days, each of which we thoroughly enjoyed seeing and now sharing.

Now on our way to Fiji, we have little interest in getting off the ship after spending a total of four months on two of its hundreds of islands and thus, we'll be content to stay on board and enjoy the quiet while other passengers check it out.
An old structure at the beach.
We realized this 24 night cruise would consist of many repeated ports including the arrival in Hawaii in nine days (including crossing the International Dateline).  After spending eight months in Hawaii, we may only disembarked in Lahaina, Maui which we'd visited during our six weeks in Maui in 2014.  Its a fun little town and we'll surely enjoy seeing it again.


A round house at the beach in Isle of Pines.
However, we didn't choose this cruise for its ports of call.  We're using this cruise as a pleasurable means of getting from Point A to Point B; Sydney, Australia to Seattle, Washington, getting us close to our upcoming Alaskan cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia, ending in Seattle, Washington and then on to family visits in both Minnesota and Nevada.

In our old lives, the prospect of an Alaskan cruise would have sent us to the moon with delight.  Now, although enthusiastic over this cruise, its a normal part of our daily lives of world travel, another interesting stop along the way.


An old structure on the narrow beach road.
Don't get me wrong.  We don't take any of these opportunities lightly. But after four and a half years of travel, we've settled into an easy acceptance of new spaces, new places and new adventures which seem to continue in our path as we navigate from one part of the world to another.


We walked this path with other passengers to arrive at the main area of the port of call.
The highlight of our lives surely is in the "new."  New locations, new people, new cultures, new scenery and new wildlife surely seem to set our hearts and minds whirring with excitement. 

Of course, our upcoming return to Africa may be the exception.  Most likely, it will seem new to us after being away for almost four years, having left South Africa in February 2014 and Morocco in May, 2014.  (We won't be returning to Morocco on this upcoming visit instead visiting several other countries on the vast continent).


Helicopter at the local police facility.
As for Isle of Pines, New Caledonia here's a little information from this site:
"The Isle of Pines (French: Île des Pins; name in Kanak language Kwênyii: Kunyié) is an island located in the Pacific Ocean, in the archipelago of New Caledonia, an overseas collectivity of France. The island is part of the commune (municipality) of L'Île-des-Pins, in the South Province of New Caledonia. The Isle of Pines is nicknamed l'île la plus proche du paradis ("the closest island to Paradise"). It has snorkeling and scuba diving in and around its lagoon. Species of tropical fish and corals can be seen in the transparent water.
The island is around 22°37′S 167°29′E and measures 15 km (9.3 mi) by 13 km (8.1 mi). It lies southeast of Grande Terre, New Caledonia's main island and is 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of the capital Nouméa. There is one airport (code ILP) with a 1,097 m (3,599 ft) runway. The Isle of Pines is surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef.
The inhabitants of the island are mainly native Melanesian Kanaks and the population is 2,000 (estimated 2006) (1989 population 1,465).
The island is rich with animal life and is home to unusual creatures such as the Crested Gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus and the world's largest gecko Rhacodactylus leachianus.
The pic Nga is the island's highest point, at 262 metres (860 ft) elevation. River Ouro is the longest river.

History

Melanesian people lived of the island for over 2000 years before the island was first visited by Europeans. Captain James Cook in 1774 saw the island and renamed it on his second voyage to New Zealand. Cook gave the island its name after seeing the tall native pines (Araucaria columnaris). He never disembarked onto the island, but as he saw signs of inhabitance (smoke) assumed it was inhabited. In the 1840s Protestant and Catholic missionaries arrived, along with merchants seeking sandalwood.
The French took possession of the island in 1853 at which time the native Kunies opted for the Catholic religion. In 1872 the island became a French penal colony, home to 3,000 political deportees from the Paris Commune.

Sights

The ruins of a penal colony can be seen in the village of Ouro in the west of the island. The water tower of Ouro which was built by prisoners in 1874/75 and renovated in 2005 is still used today.
On the cemetery Cimetière des Déportés near Ouro a pyramide-shaped memorial and the graves of 300 deportees who died here between 1872 and 1880 can be seen."

A church or public building?
As illustrated above, there wasn't a lot of possible sightseeing venues in the small village.  The scenery, gorgeous beaches and the shopping certainly bring cruise ships to the area aiding in providing income for the locals as they present their various wares for sale.

Unlike our usual mission to check out the scenery and culture, we found ourselves wandering through the lean-to shops in the popular boutique area which required a bit of a walk on an uneven path.

Hibiscus type flowers growing along the path to the boutique area.
Cruise passengers generally gravitate to shopping areas hoping to discover that perfect item to bring home to family and friends.  We're more interested in observing local crafts and craftspeople. 

In many ports of call, as was the case in both Isle of Pines and Mystery Island (photos coming soon on this island), many of the items offered for sale are trinkets made in China that we've seen in other ports of call throughout the world. 
Regardless, we enjoy ourselves, taking many photos, chatting with passengers on the tenders on the round trip back and forth to the ship and later discussing our varied opinions on what the area had to offer.  
Scene down a private road.
As is the case for most passengers on cruises, they're optimistic and upbeat in describing various ports of call rather than expressing any disdain over any potential lack of appeal.

Last night we had a fabulous evening with two couples we met, one of which we've spent the past two nights.  All from Australia, the conversation was spiked with typical and appealing Aussie speak and good humor which we'll miss as we make our way out of the South Pacific in weeks to come.

We are both doing well, enjoying ourselves while feeling settled and familiar with this cruising way of life while over this extended period.  Once again, it's become "home" to us.
Be well.
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Photo from one year ago today, April 28, 2017:
The workaround for grabbing last year's photo is not working around again due to the poor signal on the ship.  Today's a sea day with everyone is online.  We'll post the missing photos once we move to a new location.  Thanks for your patience.

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