Ile des Pins What is known for

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DIVING

New Caledonia's coral lagoon is the world's largest, and the diving is wondrous. However, the most unusual Ile de Pins dive is not offshore, but in an inland limestone cave known (depending on the translation) as Devil's Grotto or Satan's Cave. Start with a brief, steep climb down to a freshwater pool, where a narrow passage leads to a pair of huge rooms, one lighted by a single shaft of light from a hole in the stalactite-lined ceiling. And the water is unbelievably clear.

SAILING

Both bareboat and crewed yachts are available in Noumea, the gateway to the deserted bays and beaches of Ile de Pins. It's an easy two-day crossing to the Ile de Pins, with a layover in vast Prony Bay, known both for its safe anchorages and its rare seashells. At Ile de Pins, Kuto Bay is a good place to drop anchor to begin a leisurely exploration of one of the world's most beautiful islands.... And, if you're lucky enough to be cruising on your own yacht, plan on spending even more time in the lovely, still undeveloped Loyalty Islands northeast of Ile de Pins.

CULTURE

Traditional Melanesian heritage meets modern architecture in Noumea's Tjibaou Cultural Centre. Designed by architect Renzo Piano (responsible for the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris), the soaring structure was completed in 1998 and has been compared with Sydney's Opera House. Inside, you'll find a treasure trove of Oceania culture, including multimedia presentations, as well as a collection of contemporary Pacific art.