On my second day, a Sunday, the weather wasn’t as glorious as on day one and several showers interrupted things. I wandered along the Lemon Bay and the neighboring bay called Anse Vata, and visited the small but excellent aquarium showing the local fish world. A lovely slow day at wonderful beaches. Those two beaches are the main beaches of Noumea and luckily my hotel was at one of them. I don’t think my stay would have been as nice, had I stayed in a hotel downtown.
The biggest adventure came on day three. I wanted to go by boat but that was even more expensive and the boat sailed only once per week in contrast to several flights a day to the Isle of Pines, south-east of Noumea.
It’s mostly famous for something called the Piscine Naturelle, a natural pool surrounded by pine trees where you can see fish like in an aquarium only that it’s live and real.
The twenty minute flight there was fantastic, with aerial views as stunning as out of a picture book. The mighty atoll around Grand Terre with its many tiny islands looks almost unreal.
The airport of Isle of Pines is of course tiny and I had a small problem after arrival, being: how to get around? There are only 2500 people living on the island and there is no public transport. I asked for a taxi at the airport information desk and after a 15 minute wait, a guy called Mayu picked me up. The rest of the people on the plane were picked up by hotel shuttles.
Mayu drove me through forest without a single settlement to the end of the road trying to speak French to me and we hobbled along with my broken French and his broken English until he dropped me off, pointing to the right, go there. All right. I expected at least some tourists like me but there was not a single soul around, except for a lady collecting 200 Pacific Francs of toll. The start of the Piscine Naturelle is already amazing and it was super hot and super lonely.
I changed into my reef walker shoes and started splashing. After a few meters you kind of get desensibilized against stepping on star fish… hya! They are every few centimeters. Interestingly they are the same kind as 7000 km to the north. I saw plenty of them on Amami Oshima in Japan too. Millions of smaller and bigger crabs also walk around and indeed there are fish in the pool wherever you look.
I was born in Europe where people don’t really know how intense the sun can be. I got used to the sun in Japan, which is several degrees more intense than in Europe, but nothing in comparison to New Caledonia. You gotta be careful about that sun down there, man. The light is so harsh, it makes things look blacker than they are on photos. I walked around very clothed, but got sunburnt at every exposed bit, despite sun cream. Although it’s rather sun allergy than burning.
When the water got too deep, I continued on a trampled land path until the real Piscine Naturelle which is absolutely breathtaking. Steel blue sky, very green trees, white sand, very blue water. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have seen so far.
There were a few people there, but not a crowd and there was no problem to get a quiet moment with nature. Despite going into the water only for 30 centimeters depth due to clothing, you can see all sorts of fish. Deeper in the pool it must be truly like an aquarium, but considering my skin conditions, I was content with what I got. I walked down a dried river bed, or rather sea arm, which floods during high tide, feeding the pool, to the open ocean. Also that coast is stunningly beautiful.
There is a restaurant at the beach and around the corner in a small Bay is the vicinity of the Le Meridian Isle of Pines hotel where I ditched the reef walkers and got back into normal shoes. One day when I’m old 😉 I might stay in that hotel for a few days and do nothing but walk to the Piscine Naturelle and back 😉
I walked back to the place where Mayu dropped me off and this time headed into the jungle, the goal was ch another Bay on foot. But… there are holes in the ground all over the place, small holes at first but venturing further into the jungle the holes got bigger and bigger. Further, the path became less and less obvious. Then I got a look into a fist sized hole and saw this….
that part of the crab is fist sized, the rest of the crab… uh. There are thousands of holes! When the way seemed to all but disappear, I got scared of getting lost and being attacked by monster crabs! And thus decided to return. The crabs are a form of coconut crab and can get pretty damn big. I don’t think they attack humans, but I don’t want to have to walk through a few hundred of them!
After wandering around more the inner part of the Piscine Naturelle and watching the tide come in, it was time to return to the airport. I ordered a taxi at the front desk of the Meridian hotel and got a ride back with the driver asking me in good English whether New Caledonia is more expensive than Japan. Yes, it is! Back at the airport I was the first passenger and wandered around there a bit at utterly lonely roads, then flew back to Noumea.
Usually I am not in the habit of going anywhere twice, but maybe I will return to the Isle of Pines, since Piscine Naturelle is worth more than one visit and there are other nature points to see on the island, which I haven’t been to yet.