Lissenung Island Resort is one of Papua New Guinea’s hidden delights


Grant Thomas explores Lissenung Island Resort, where diving, snorkelling and surfing are part of the daily routine. The resort is also undertaking important fieldwork to save Papua New Guinea’s endangered turtles.

A local fisherman makes his way home near Lissenung Island. Credit: Grant Thomas

Sandwiched between the Bismarck Sea and the South Pacific, Lissenung Island Resort is one of PNG’s hidden delights.

It is on a small private island accessed exclusively by boat from the nearest town, Kavieng, which is only a short Air Niugini flight from the country’s capital, Port Moresby.

The setting is pristine white-sand beaches, lined with palm trees and fringed by some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs.

Days are spent scuba diving and snorkelling the surrounding reefs, immersing in cultural island tours, surfing empty waves or relaxing and soaking up the slow island life.

The resort has traditional wooden bungalows spaced across the island, ensuring maximum privacy and comfort. Sandy pathways, flanked by floral plants and tropical shrubs, link each bungalow. A spacious central building, where the restaurant is located, provides a communal area.

Meals are prepared from local produce and served by friendly staff. PNG’s position in the  Coral Triangle makes it one of  the best diving destinations in the world, and Lissenung is  a great example of this, with pristine coral reefs, thriving pelagic life and dramatic underwater topography.

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Saving Hawksbill turtles

During its first five years of operations, researchers at the conservation project have recorded 10,000 turtle. Image: Grant Thomas

The owners of Lissenung Island Resort, Dietmar and Ange Amon, are committed to the protection of the local marine environment—so much so that they have privately funded their own turtle conservation project.

Turtle numbers are on the decline in PNG, partly because of human consumption and overfishing.

The team at Lissenung Island Resort is giving the turtles a fighting chance. Each morning during nesting season from September to February, team members visit the neighbouring islands to check for nests with eggs. Once found, the eggs are gently extracted, transported safely back to the resort and stored until hatching time.

After about 60 days, the eggs hatch and the baby turtles are released onto the beach, usually after sunset and away from the prying eyes of potential predators. The turtles are drawn towards the ocean and innately propelled to swim out into the open sea. Here they will use sargassum floats—a type of seaweed that floats in large island-like masses—as a haven to grow, feed and hopefully survive into adulthood.

It is estimated only about one in 1000 sea turtles will survive to adulthood, so the efforts made at Lissenung are vital in helping the survival of the species.

The Amons have been recording and sharing valuable data about the local turtle populations with various scientific research institutions across Australia.

This data gives insight into the different aspects of turtle development and is important in ensuring a sustainable future for the species.

The team at Lissenung has also been involving local communities in the project as well as educating locals about turtle conservation.

While the turtles are just a small aspect of Lissenung Island Resort, it’s refreshing to know that your stay is somehow contributing towards the survival of a species.

This article was first published in Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini. Reproduced with permission.

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