Travel Post: Noumea, Mare and Isle of Pines on Carnival Legend

We stopped at three islands; Noumea, Mare and Isle of Pines in our 8 day cruise. Each of these islands were unique in their own way, yet they each had the same feel and vibe. Perhaps it was being on land after three days at sea, but each time we set down, it felt like paradise!

There are plenty of island activities (Shore Excursions) to participate in which are coordinated by the Carnival Cruise staff. This is the perfect way for a couple, or a less experienced travelers to explore the islands and see all they have to offer. Tickets can be purchased at the lobby area. Just note that the day tours sell out quickly. It is best to plan ahead using this link and book when you board the ship!

Matt traveled with Carnival previously with a group of 5 guys, it was cheaper to take the chance and find our own way around the islands. You can always end up finding a cheap alternative transport.. they only paid $100 for a dedicated taxi for the day. Some of the shore excursions alone cost more than that!

Noumea
The first island we arrived on was Noumea. This island is one of the larger islands and has a small city which you can walk around and explore. We decided to purchase a shore excursion for this island as we couldn't resist the sound of the Lagoon Snorkel. There were several other options to choose from, one of the most popular attractions was the Amedee Island Marine Reserve. We are happy however that we chose this option. 

The excursion was $89pp and includes a 30 minute ride (both ways) on a Catamaran to either Signal Island, Laregnere Islet or Master Island depending on the weather. Because it was a clear day, we were lucky enough to explore the Laregnere Islet! When you arrive, you are guided on a 1 hour snorkel where we saw a crayfish the size of a large dog, endless number of tortoises and sting rays, and of course the beautiful tropical fish and coral. Beware that plankton are famously known to give you a bit of a sting in this area, but don't be alarmed. The sting disappears by the time you arrive back at Noumea. 

The boat ride alone was worth the money. Look how clear the water is, we were snorkeling just 20-25 meters above sea level and yet we could see the seafloor as though it was just beneath us.
It was an adrenaline rush, that is for sure and it is also quite the work out. You need to have a somewhat medium level of fitness for this activity.

When we arrived, we said our thank you and farewell to our lovely guides as we were dropped off at the wharf near town. What a beautiful view this was and it was located near a shopping complex which has a large market upstairs. We bought the hop-on and hop-off bus tickets for $15pp which took us to the other attractions that Noumea has to offer. There are 11 stops in total, including the morning market, Port Piaanse shopping centre, Anse Vata Beach, the Aquarium, the museum and the city centre. 

Lemon Beach
Lemon Beach has two stops. This was the first stop and was a postcard in 4D. Literally everywhere you look is a tropical beach scene straight out of a movie. It is such a romantic location that you can't help but sit down on a bench and just take in the scenery. It was surreal!

Anse Vata Beach
We then realised that we hadn't yet eaten lunch and all that walking and snorkeling really had us craving some sort of carbs. So we decided to be ultra tourists and walk down the main strip of the beach in search for some grub. 

There were many options to choose from but we happened to stumble across The Rimba Juice cafe. When Matt saw the burgers being brought out, it was settled. They looked great and surprisingly enough were not half bad either. 

It was a cute little cafe that featured a tropical theme. Artsy animals were placed throughout the cafe and outside the front which looked like a jungle. It had such a great vibe and we loved all the colours of the cafe. Most importantly though, they offered free WiFi which was incredible expensive on the cruise ship. Need to make that extra dollar count!

A burger with that much sauce is a burger worth eating!

Noumea is a French colonized island so when we saw a French patisserie on the strip we had to stop in for a bite. It wasn't anything too special though, I think we had our hopes up too high!

We decided to get wet in the water at this beach so we apologise for the lack of photos! These beaches were quite windy and people made the most of it. Kite surfing seemed like a very big thing here in Noumea!


We then arrived back to our cruise ship to be formally sent off by some locals and then to this amazing view as we left the port of Noumea. What an amazing island this was and we haven't even explored half of it! The next island is Mare and we can't wait to see what it has in store for us!


Mare
The next day we arrived bright and early in Mare. This island was smaller meaning the cruise ship is unable to port at the island. The life boats are lowered from the sides and are used to transport guests to and back from the island. This is done using a ticketing system where you lineup for a departure time and wait for your section to be called. We used this time to get some food from the Lido deck.


This was our favourite of the three islands. The main reason being that the island was quite smaller than Noumea meaning there was less time to explore and more time to relax. There wasn't many shore excursions available for this island so we booked the only option, the bus to Yejele beach. 

The sand here was so soft that your feet made a squeaking sound every time you stepped. It was beautifully white and the water was crystal blue. Your ideal spot for snorkeling! The water is quite shallow (waist high) for quite a distance and the reef is close to the shore. You will see a large number of tropical fish living in this area, swilling all around the coral. Be on the look out for the silver/rainbow fish that swim around a nip at your ankles. It doesn't hurt at all but it's interesting to watch. 

Yes.. we had a coconut! Several actually. Mare had the sweetest of all islands and we really wish we had coconuts this sweet in Australia! The exciting part though is watching them cut the coconut for you and if you are nice enough, when you are finished with the coconut juice you can ask them to open it up so you can eat the flesh. Coconuts provide a great source of antibiotics so drink plenty of them if you are eating island food!

Speaking of food.. the locals thought up an ingenious idea to deep fry hot chips using a wood fire on the beach. The chips were a big hit so expect a long wait time! They also sell beer local to this area only which was nice to drink while soaking up some rays. After a tiring day of snorkeling, we head back to the cruise ship which is waiting for us just off the coast. It is formal night, so we are looking forward to getting dressed up and show some class for once!

Isle of Pines
The last of the islands is Isle of Pines. The island is quite literally full of pines so the name suits. You can see the tall thin pines in the distance. Unfortunately the weather was overcast and it rained numerous times throughout the day. Even though it was raining though, it was still nice and warm - yet the fish were not so easy to find this time.

Isle of Pines is famously known for the large rock you see in the picture above. This is Kanumera bay and is only a short stroll away from where the cruise drops you off. Matt has been to this island before so we knew not to purchase any shore excursions and stay relatively close to this bay. This is a prime location for snorkeling as many reef and coral fish gather around the giant rock. The water is also some of the clearest you will see so if you are lucky enough for a clear day, this will be an amazing experience for you. The sand is quite coarse as it is made up of all the broken coral washing ashore. The coral can also be very sharp so reef shoes are advisable if you are snorkeling in this area,

N'Ga Peak rests 262 meters above sea level and it offers 360 degree panoramic views of the island. This is the ultimate experience and we highly recommend that you explore this part of the island. It takes roughly 1 hour to climb from the entrance, but the trek can be quite difficult if you are not experienced. Certain parts of this trail can be steep and warrant the appropriate foot attire.
Be sure to study up on how to reach the peak as we got lost half way through the trail. Luckily there were hikers who had done this before that we hitched a ride off. 

Each of the islands has dedicated stalls which sell handmade products to remember the islands by. If time permits, make sure to stop by and check out some of the neat creations. That ends this post and while we say Bon Voyage to the lovely locals on the island, we know that two more fun days at sea await for us on the boat. We can't wait to see what's served for dinner tonight!

Carnival Legend Travel Posts
Explore the links below to find out more about our experience on the Legend