New Caledonia Flag

New Caledonia Travel Guide

Farther Afield

During 1871-1879, around 3,900 political prisoners from the Paris Commune were held on the Isle of Pines. After an amnesty in 1880, the communards were allowed to return to France but the island continued as a regular prison colony until 1912. Pigs now forage in the old prison yard and the narrow, cheerless brick cells—snuffling scavengers in the gloomy and forbidding atmosphere. Some of the most impressive ruins are opposite the bakery at Ouro. The water supply building can be reached via the track inland on the other side of the highway.

To get to the Deportees' Cemetery, continue one km north on the airport road and take the first turn on the right. The cemetery where some 260 deportees are buried is to the left, about 500 meters inland. To the right is a track right across the island.

The administrative center and largest village on the island is Vao, five km east of Kanuméra. French Catholic missionaries arrived at Vao in 1848, and the present church dates from 1860. Climb up to the chapel above the church for the view. The chief's house (chefferie) at Vao is surrounded by a driftwood palisade.

Two km due east of the church is St. Joseph Beach, with as fine a collection of large dugout sailing canoes (pirogues) as you'll find anywhere in the Pacific. Oupi Bay is dotted with their sails and tiny mushroom-shaped islands.