The Islands of Milne Bay

Milne Bay
Milne Bay Province has over 600 islands.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

The Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea is a tropical paradise, with more than 600 islands, of which about 160 are inhibited by local tribes and communities, and is bursting with history, culture and wildlife.

Exotically beautiful, from lush vegetation, coral reefs, and bubbling geysers, to bygone eras, remote tribal communities and ancient mysteries, the opportunity to go island hopping in the Milne Bay province is an experience not to be missed.

 

Samarai Island

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Samarai Island, Milne Bay.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

Heading south across Milne Bay and passing by postcard-perfect scenery of local villages, lush tropical rain forest and stunning shorelines, you will find the historic Samarai Island.

This idyllic island was once the busiest port in the country as well as the provincial headquarters for expatriate government officials, traders and their families, before undergoing massive destruction during WWII.

Measuring just 500 metres by one kilometre, the tiny island has since been rebuilt, featuring a colonial feel, beautiful gardens, a pearl farm, a bustling local market and a small but thriving village community.

 

Kwato Island

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Kwato Church, Kwato Island.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

Heading further across the China Straight just three kilometres west of Samarai is Kwato Island.  Famous for being the headquarters of the London Missionary society in Papua New Guinea, the island’s history dates as far back as 1891 with the hauntingly beautiful stonewalled Kwato Church sitting proudly on top of the hill and is a vision to behold to this day.

 

Doini Island

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Doini Island Plantation Resort, Milne Bay.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

For a truly tropical and remote island experience, head to the unspoilt serenity of Doini Island and stay overnight at ecological Doini Island Plantation Resort.

Nestled among coconut trees and lush tropical rain forest, the resort is right on the water’s edge, with simple, 2 bedroom beachfront bungalows set on the shore of white sandy beaches, overlooking crystal blue, warm tropical waters, perfect for a quick dip before dinner at the resort’s beautifully hand carved, open deck restaurant.

Doini Island offers total peace, quiet and privacy for the ultimate in relaxation and unwinding, but if you prefer adventure, plenty of activities including fishing, snorkelling and diving, kayaking, horse riding, bush walking, a visit to the skull caves and even a nine hole golf course on-site will provide plenty of enjoyment.

 

Boiboiwaga Island

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Boiboiwaga Island, Milne Bay.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

The idyllic, deserted Boiboiwaga is a 30 minute boat ride from Tawali Resort and has an abundance of colourful marine life in its rich coral reefs.

Calm, tropical waters and lush island vegetation offer a wonderful day trip island getaway for snorkelling, diving, bush walking, picnicking and all round relaxation.

 

Fergusson Island and Dei-Dei Hot Springs

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The Fergusson Island community, Milne Bay.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

With its mountainous terrain, stunning tropical bush, welcoming tribal community and the mesmerising Dei-Dei Hot Springs, a day trip out to Fergusson Island is well worth the three hour boat journey from Tawali Resort.

This island is inhabited by a small local tribal community, who welcome you long before you even step foot on the island.  A group of the village men paddle out to your boat in traditional handmade canoes, pick you up take you on shore, where their fellow villagers welcome you with open arms and smiles.

This beautiful and remote community predominantly lives off the land and sea, taking their agriculture practices seriously and specialising in gardening, fishing, farming, hunting and crafts, while women take on the more traditional duties of household work and looking after the little ones.

These friendly villagers take great pride in their community and will happily show you around, introduce you to their family members, offer you their food and encourage you to try your hand at their local crafts.

The opportunity to observe such happiness in a simple life and its simple pleasures is a true privilege that will open you up to new a perspective on your own life and world.

An extinct volcano, the prehistoric Fergusson Island makes you feel as though time has stood still and a 30 minute walk from the small on-shore village will take you to the steaming, bubbling geysers of Dei-Dei Hot Springs.

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Dei-Dei Hot Springs, Fergusson Island.  Image credit: ©Justin Wilkes Photography 2014.

 

A true feast for the eyes, the boiling lakes and hot springs are totally mesmerising and it is important to remember to watch where you are stepping, stay on the designated pathway and listen to the guide, who tells the local myth of three boys who plunged to their death after were compelled to jump into the crystal clear waters.

Hauntingly beautiful and full of mystery, every island in the province of Milne Bay has a story to tell, a secret to reveal and a magic to experience that will stay with you long after you’ve gone.

Click the link to read more about Papua New Guinea and the Magic 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.

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Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich
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