Published: January 13th 2012January 13th 2012
Using 4 of the life boats, we anchored nearby and motored ashore via deck 4 disembarkation
A shared breakfast at the Waterfront early and a #11 ticket for our tender.A tender is the life boat in real life but since we can't anchor at some of our shore excursions we use these to take us to the jetty on the Isle of Pines. This island has 2000 inhabitants mostly involved with the tourism industry of cruise ships. It is part of New Caledonia so French is spoken as well as native languages and a little English.
We disembarked in Kuto Bay and had a little walk around to start our day. There is an obvious fort like fence near this port, possibly built by the French to keep out the locals. The locals had set up stalls with food and souvenirs for sale, there was dancing and music displays and every thing hokey to attract the tourist dollar.
There is a hotel in this bay for the yachts and a couple of resorts nearby, all very close to the beach casual and tropical. It is called Isle of Pines because Captain James Cook discovered it in 1774 and named it due to the very obvious looking pine trees which are actually Araucaria conifers, very tall,
This is French territory with the local indigenous people speaking this language and many others, they are called Kanaks
with no limbs and small side branches completely at right angles to the tree.
In 1840 missionaries came followed by traders looking for sandalwood. In 1853 the french took possession of this island. 3000french political prisoners arrived in 1872 Today the population is Catholic with a large beautiful church located in a prime position along with monastery and convent which houses the brothers and sisters for the local school. The church is wooden with a carved ceiling and has the most beautiful acoustics. The lay out of this church is in the shape of a crucifix.
We took a tour with a local company on a minibus and for $15 per person we had a 55minute bus ride around the local points of interest. So we saw a monument to the various Marist priests that have been on the island, the village of Vao, a fishing village and the church One stop off had a public toilet, normal pedestal but no paper, only a spray nozzle, primitive but effective bidet.
Lunch today was local food stalls. We started off with garlic snails and baguette slices, chicken and rice and a couple of local beers, called
No 1, for $28- possibly a rip off but supporting the locals without a kick back from the cruise. The beer was quite light but came in 330mls cans and was 5%.Wheeee! P&O had some marquees set up and we were able to sample some of the other local foods such as chicken, tapioca, sago, pumpkin, bananas and pawpaw cooked in coconut milk. Served on a piece of banana leaf on a woven palm frond plate.
Snorkeling was next on the plan in Kanumera Bay which is just opposite Kuto bay. There is a large rock in this area called La Rocher just off shore, which is completely off limits. There is coral in the bay but pretty old and mostly dead. The fish life is lovely and it's easy to snorkel and watch, the water being quite refreshing. We are parallel to the Tropic of Capricorn so it's hot and humid but not oppressive.
There is a few expats on the island, spoke with an Australian lady from the Gold coast who lives here for half the year, with a lovely yacht here and at home in Oz. Her partner is french. She was swimming with
Sacred rock not to be climbed
us in the bay enjoying the "blue towel" brigade and the antics of the locals in meeting the needs of the cruise ships and it's passengers.
We returned to the ship on a tender around 3-30pm and have retreated to our cabin for wine and pringles, which are $7per packet! We will start collecting some fruit and bread rolls for the afternoon munchies from the restaurant in future me thinks.
New Year tonight, we have plans, wonder if we will manage to stay awake.
Dinner tonight was in La Luna which is one of the 3 eating venues where you have to pay. The charge is minimal, but you have the very best silver service and brilliant food. La Luna is Asian fusion exploring the various foods of China and it's regions. 8 course set menu, with lots of different flavors and spices and food at it's best. We ate slowly, and manfully ploughed our way through all the food, a bottle of white sparkling and Martin enjoyed a bottle of sake.
Which became the Dutch courage Martin needed to have a go at Karaoke tonight, "Country roads take me home" a crowd favourite.
Yes we could read this one
I sang a new one for me tonight "You're So Vain" great song to sing, well known and easy for the audience to sing along to. They finished the karaoke half an hour before midnight which killed the audience and atmosphere I felt. Disco music was put on, not near as interactive or fun.
So we saw the new year in and off to bed! Mystery Island tomorrow!
There are more photos below