Papua New Guinea and the magic of Milne Bay

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Local village fishermen, Milne Bay Province. Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

As one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world and without the usual modern tourism development one would expect to find on a tropical island holiday destination, Papua New Guinea offers an exhilarating and authentic experience, which is exactly why more travellers are compelled to experience this unique region.

Last year, Papua New Guinea welcomed 41,343 international holidaymakers, with cruise liners taking a particular interest in the region lately with both P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises recently adding it to their itineraries.

Located in the tropics, south of the Equator and 160 kilometers north of Australia, Papua New Guinea enjoys a warm to hot and humid climate throughout the year. Although the weather can be unpredictable as is usually the case in the tropics, the wet season is generally from May to October and the dry season November to April.

As Australia’s closest neighbour, it takes just a four hour plane ride with Air Niugini to Port Moresby, the nation’s capital and gateway to a further 19 destinations within the country, making Papua New Guinea an easily accessible holiday destination.

 

Loloata Resort

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 Loloata Island Resort, Papua New Guinea.

 

Just a 15 minute ferry ride on board the resort ferry will shuttle you out of the bustling capital of Port Moresby to the nearby peaceful tranquillity of Loloata Island Resort.

A fantastic place for scuba diving, the resort is surrounded by incredible coral reefs, bursting with colourful corals, tropical fish and other marine life, providing plenty of unique opportunities for underwater camera enthusiasts.

Lush tropical bush, mangroves and coral reefs surround the island property which has 23 beach front units with en-suite bathrooms and balconies overlooking magnificent views.

Warm Melanesian hospitality greets you from the moment you step on-board the ferry and is with you throughout your stay, with an experienced PADI dive instructor on location.

 

Milne Bay

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 The Battle of Milne Bay monument, Alotau. Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

The Milne Bay province is one particular destination, of which its rich World War Two (WWII) history, culture, welcoming hospitality and abundance of flora and fauna attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Located on the south eastern peninsula of Papua New Guinea, Milne Bay is the gateway to more than 600 islands, boasting incredible diversity in cultures, landscapes, activities, nature and wildlife.

From rugged coast lines, coral reefs, lush jungles, waterfalls, volcanic mountains and white sand beaches to WWII ship wrecks, local tribes and villages, missionary-built churches, whether you’re a historian, explorer, adventurer, thrill seeker, tourist or traveller, this unique region offers an abundance of adventures and experiences to be had.

 

Alotau

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 Milne Bay Province capital, Alotau, and local market. Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

A 50 min plane journey with Air Niugini will take you from Port Moresby to Milne Bay’s capital, Alotau, located on the northern shore.

Walking through this peaceful and laid back town where locals greet you with warm smiles, it is hard to imagine it was once a raging battlefield between Australian and Japanese soldiers during WWII and the naval base for Australian troops.

Known as the Battle of Milne Bay, it was here that the Japanese invaded the waters of Milne Bay in an attempt to take over, with Australian troops fighting and turning them back in a battle that lasted 14 days.

For history buffs, the Battle of Milne Bay tour provides the opportunity to step back in time and delve deeper into the significant Pacific Campaign era of WWII, through exploring memorial and wreckage sites, as well as Alotau War Memorial.

For those preferring a more adventurous approach to their history, across the bay from Alotau is the beautiful Waga Lagoon, where the ‘Muscoota’ shipwreck lies on the bottom inhabited by sea life, providing a fantastic opportunity for snorkelling and underwater photography.

Today, Alotau is a peaceful yet bustling port town, where villagers partake in annual festivals and keep the local economy blooming through export trade, fishing, farming and offer locals and visitors alike a range of traditional arts, crafts and food specialties at the local market.

 

Driftwood Resort

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Driftwood Resort, Alotau, Milne Bay. Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

Driftwood Resort is located just down the road from the village center, and comes highly recommended as the perfect place to stay when in Alotau.

The boutique resort features seven charming bungalows set among the tropical rain forest right on the water’s edge allow for total peace, privacy and escapism, each one with double bed and en-suite with the beachfront bungalows enjoying spacious decks stretching over the water to stunning views of the bay.

Driftwood Resort’s Boathouse International Restaurant and Bar offers fresh, locally caught seafood and cold beers, perfectly enjoyed on the property’s jetty after a long day’s diving and exploring, with stunning sunset views.

Offering a range of half and full day excursions on board the resort’s boat, “Drifter”, guests can enjoy a wonderful variety of experiences including fishing, snorkelling, diving, local culture, island hopping and even have the chance to experience a thrilling swim with manta rays at the nearby Gona Bura Bura manta ray cleaning station.

With hundreds of unique islands scattered throughout a region bursting with history, culture and wildlife, the opportunity to go island hopping is an experience not to be missed and Driftwood Resort is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding beauty and diversity.

 

Tawali Resort

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Tawali Dive and Leisure Resort, Milne Bay

 

Another incredible eco-resort that cannot be recommended enough, is the lush Tawali Resort.

Located in a secluded and remote area of Milne Bay, the leisure and dive resort is tucked away in the lush, dense tropical rain forest on the edge of a volcanic cliff and is accessible only by a 20 minute boat journey.

Tawali Resort offers incredibly warm and welcoming hospitality, a gorgeous wooden deck overlooking the blue ocean horizon, delicious, locally sourced food, community engagement with the local tribes, a swimming pool and has a range of accommodation package options to choose from.

Surrounded by exquisite coral reefs, clear, tropical waters, and lush jungle boasting a waterfall, tribal villages, exotic wildlife including the elusive Bird of Paradise, and even a skull cave, there is ample opportunity to explore and experience the beauty and mysteries of this land.

The on-site dive shop provides everything you need for snorkelling and diving and there are also two PADI instructors on hand for lessons.

The resort also has its own charter boat, ‘Spirit of Niugini’, available for a variety of excursions, and can also arrange other vessels for fishing, diving and island hopping adventures.

Click the link to read more about The Islands of Milne Bay.

Can’t get enough of the photos by photographer Justin Wilkes?  Check out our stunning photo gallery here.

For more on travelling to Papua New Guinea including visas, immunisations and general information, go to Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority.

 

Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich
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