Isle of Pines | BETICO

Isle of Pines


The island is called Kunie by its Melanesian inhabitants. The name Isle of Pines was given to it by the intrepid English explorer, Captain James Cook, in 1774, during his journey to New Zealand. Under this official name, the “Petite-Ile” can be found on maps of the Pacific.

With an area of 153.2km², the Isle of Pines is located in the south of the New Caledonian archipelago. The archipelago benefits from a tropical oceanic climate all year round.

The island is known for its fine sandy beaches, its many columnar pines and its turquoise blue waters.

Apart from these untouched enchanting places, the island has been marked by its history.


The island was inhabited by the indigenous people: the "Kuniés". The central element that governs the life of the Kuniés is the yam*. The cultivation (planting to harvesting) of this crop determines the cultural and social life of the island. Moreover, during religious ceremonies (weddings, mourning, etc.), the yam is the primary element of Kanak customs in New Caledonia. Kanak culture is governed by a Grand Chief, Sub-Chiefs and Notables, more commonly known as the Chiefdom Council or Council of Elders.

You will also have the opportunity to taste the traditional Kanak dish "bougna". It is a preparation where yam is cooked in coconut milk in a traditional oven, accompanied by meat or fish with other starchy foods (taro, sweet potato, banana and manioc).

The island has eight tribes: Gadji in the north, Wapan, Touété in the east, Ouatchia, Youati, Vao in the south, Comagna and Kéré in the west.

During major ceremonies, the tribes and the Great Chief prepare to welcome and the arrival of the guests on the island together.

Activities not to be missed:

  • The cave of Queen Hortense: It is a very special place, since it was a place of refuge for the late Queen Hortense. You will be amazed by its little damp woodland full of large tree ferns.
  • Oro Bay (Touété): There is a natural swimming pool with a small lagoon with beautiful fish-filled waters. This is an important place for the Kuniés. You may visit the bed of the legendary snake “Maghénine”.
  • Ouameo Bay (Kéré): The perfect place to depart for a scuba diving session.
  • Upi Bay: Accessible by traditional pirogue, you can sail among these large rocks on a beautiful emerald sea.
  • Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church (Vao): A beautiful architectural monument and important place for the population. The house of Notre Dame de la Salette can be seen above the church. A footpath opens onto an incredible panoramic view.
  • The St Joseph's Bay and the Pirogues Bay (Vao): This is the departure point of Pirogues (canoes often dug out of tree trunks). The Isle of Pines is the only place in New Caledonia where you can see traditional pirogue constructions.
  • St Maurice Bay (Vao): Historic site where the first mass was celebrated on 12 August 1848. One can find statutes representing totems and the stele of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  • The Bays of Kuto and Kanuméra (Comagna): The long, white, powdery beach at Kuto is a real treat. The Betico2, the coaster and the liner, dock in Kuto Bay. On the other side, there is the towering Kanumera Rock. This is where the old labour camp was located and many remains are still visible today.
  • The Pic N’ga (Comagna)The summit is at 262m, where you can enjoy a magnificent landscape and a beautiful panoramic view.
  • Nokanhui Atoll: Composed of three islets (Nuami, Nuana and Kutemure), it is an exceptional site accessible only by motorboat or, in good weather, by pirogue (canoe).
  • Commune Cemetery (Kéré): A provincial heritage monument, the site is a memorial to the deported.
  • Grotte de la troisième (Kéré): A water cave surrounded by a green and majestic forests. A popular spot for scuba divers.