New Caledonia gets beach award

The pristine sands of New Caledonia’s Isle of Pines have been named among the world’s 30 best “undiscovered beaches” by the respected US travel journal Islands.Ê The magazine has singled out the untouched beaches of Oro Bay in the north-east of the island for its remarkable landscape of coconut palms and towering araucaria pines.
“We took into account the quality of the beach - its beauty and its swimability,” the magazine’s September/October issue says of its list.Ê “We also sought out beaches with a low awareness index… right now, these beaches lay empty, awaiting your footprints.”
Known as “the Jewel of the Pacific”, the Isle of Pines has changed little since it was named by James Cook in 1774.Ê Its remarkable geography and botany still closely resemble the earth during Jurassic times and were used by the BBC in its acclaimed series Walking with Dinosaurs.
The island is a 25-minute flight from the New Caledonian mainland La Grand Terre -Ê itself 21/2 hours from Sydney - and has just a handful of resorts and pensions.Ê The people of its eight tribal clans know the island as Kunie and have declined further development or large-scale tourism.
Oro Bay is best known for one of New Caledonia’s most luxurious retreats, the five-star Le Meridien Isle of Pines.Ê The low-key resort overlooks Oro Bay from its secluded location among the pines, a short walk from one of the island’s other landmarks La Piscine Naturelle - a spectacular salt-water pond teaming with tropical fish and ideal for swimming and snorkelling.Ê