December 10, 2015. New Caledonia is French territory and consequently they drive on the right side of the road and the local language and currency is French, although the culture is very much Melanesian. The Melanesians are big on hospitality. The Isle of Pines is on the southern tip of New Caledonia. It has a tribal culture that’s just as distinctive as the landscape. It is nicknamed “I’lle la plus proche du paradis” or the closest island to paradise.
Captain James Cook supposedly named the Isle of Pines without ever stepping foot on its shores. Cook gave it its name after seeing the tall native pines.
Besides walking around the bay, we took a two hour bus tour and made three stops. St. Maurice Bay Monument, which is a stone monument of Jesus, with coral rock designs and carved wooden fences that surround the monument. Vao Village and Vao’s Lady of Assumption Catholic Church, which has beautiful carvings in the interior of the church. Bagne Prison Ruins is a prison and cemetery, built in 1818. Prisoners from Paris were sentenced to Bagne Colony and about 3,000 political deportees, who built the prison, are buried here.
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