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Pirogue at St Joseph’s Bay

During his second voyage in 1774, Captain Cook visited New Caledonia. Jacques Brosse, in his book, Great Voyages of Exploration, 1983, wrote:

“To the south of New Caledonia, he discovered a small island remarkable for its high conifers, which were so crowded together that from a distance they looked like basalt columns. The species belonged to the genus Araucaria, then unknown. These Auracaria columnaris, which measured as high as 70 meters, looked like giant pines, and Cook therefore called the place the Isle of Pines.”

Cook and his carpenter remarked on how useful these pines would be in boat building. To this day the pines are used by the locals in the construction of their tribal boats and fishing vessels – pirogues (outrigger sailing canoes).

We saw some of these pirogues in the beautiful St Joseph’s Bay, a small fishing village not far from Vao and St Maurice Bay, which also specialises in the construction of pirogues. Today, the pirogues are a mix of traditional designs and materials combined with modern fishing nets and outboard motors.

In addition to being fishing vessels many of the pirogues are available for hire though we didn’t have time to go out on one. Had we had time, I can think of no better way to explore the gorgeous bay and farther afield.

While not having time to sail on a pirogue, I did have time to sample some local fare in the form of delicious pan-cakes covered with local honey.

At A$3 per serve, one of these proved a delicious snack. Also available from the pop-up (I hate that term!) stall, awaiting cruise ship visitors, were rather plain and dryish looking cup-cakes together with a small offering of soft drinks, tea and instant coffee.

We visited St Joseph’s Bay as part of an island tour we had procured on our cruse ship, an island tour which I strongly recommend you do.


This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my trip to Ile des Pins, New Caledonia. I suggest you continue with my next entry –  An Unexpected French Speaking Queen – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – No Hurries, No Worries.


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