I think we can all concur, it was quite excellent.

Salita Sant'Anna di Palazzo, 2
80132 Naples, Italy
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view from my room in Nouméa
I was 19, on the Gold Coast of Australia visiting friends studying there for the semester.  My month-long trip began with a week in Tokyo, solo, and continued on to three weeks of beaches, surfing, and merrymaking in Oz.  What I had not planned for was a week of final exams between weekends in Byron Bay and Surfer's Paradise.  Without a car and friends busy studying all week, I started looking into flights to Fiji.  I mentioned it to someone at a party one night, and they suggested I check out New Caledonia.  I had no idea what they were talking about.

New Caledonia's national emblem.
It only took one Google image search and my tickets were booked within an hour.  It's a little-known French territory only two hours from Brisbane, in the southwest Pacific.  It has the second largest closed reef in the world after the Great Barrier reef.  My friend Jeremy, who grew up between there and Reunion Island, suggested I visit the Isle of Pines. Done and done. I booked two nights in the capital city of Nouméa, and three on Isle of Pines, at a charming little hotel named Oure Tera Beach Resort on Kanumera Bay.

Since it was such a last minute trip, I booked the accommodations and thought I'd figure out a ferry or a flight to the island once I had arrived.  Bad idea.  The ferry only served twice a week and the 2 flights a day were booked solid. The concierge at my hotel laughed along with (or maybe at) me while we tried to figure it out, until he finally suggested my final option... Helicopter. 

So the next morning I met my pilot at the hotel's helipad.

"-Where is everyone else?
-No one else, just me.
-Seriously? Usually I have four fat tourists.
-Then I guess that means I get a longer flight? Less fuel right?"

He laughed and agreed. Not only did he show me the coolest shaped atolls between Nouméa and Pines, he also gave me an entire aerial tour of the island before landing in a grass field, just a quick buggy ride away from my hotel.

Kanumera Bay
Kanumera Bay
Oure Tera from above
my cute bungalow at Oure Tera
The island is nicknamed "l'ile la plus proche du paradis," or, the closest island to paradise.  I really couldn't phrase it any better. My days were spent snorkeling, swimming, tanning, and hiking all by myself.  One note... Ladies beware. As a French territory I assumed topless sunbathing was acceptable, and it is, on the main island.  I was unaware that on the Isle of Pines the locals are extremely Catholic and topless tanning is frowned upon. Luckily I was approached by a fellow French tourist who informed me of this before I offended anyone. The hotel was perfect, right on a pristine beach with great snorkeling. The cabins were sweet and tastefully decorated.

my honeymoon with myself
Let's go gogglin'!

 I did manage to get a plane back to Nouméa, and the pilots invited me up into the cockpit for the ride :)

landing back in Nouméa