Seven adventures that define Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has some irresistible experiences, which are well worth exploring for those seeking adventures, writes Ben Groundwater.

Deacons Reef at Tawali is one of the top adventures. Source: Diveplanit

Visitors feel it the minute they land in Port Moresby, the moment the plane doors open and they step onto the tarmac. There’s an air of adventure in Papua New Guinea. Here, we list seven of our top adventures.

1. DIVE IN MILNE BAY

There’s pretty much nowhere else in the world that offers diving of the same quality, with a mix of hard and soft corals, abundant sea life and war wrecks. Many divers to this region begin their underwater adventure at Deacon’s Reef, 10 minutes by boat from the dive resort Tawali (accessible from Alotau, Milne Bay Province).

2. WATCH THE BAINING FIRE DANCERS

There’s a thump of wood on wood that echoes in the jungle, its power amplified by the darkness. Thump, thump, thump. And then it happens: a figure ducks out from the darkness and lights a bonfire, and the Baining fire dancers appear. This is a ritual played out in East New Britain, in the mountains south of Kokopo. The Baining fire dancers can be seen at the annual Mask Festival at Kokopo.

3. STAY WITH LOCALS ON AN ISLAND

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There are no hotels in Maira, a small village on the island of Mioko. There’s a small collection of wooden houses, including some homestay accommodation. It takes about two hours to get to Maira from Kokopo, but it seems a world away. A homestay at Maira on Mioko Island can be booked with villagehuts.com.

4. JOIN THE FESTIVITIES AT THE GOROKA SHOW

Goroka Mudmen provide another of the top adventures.

Brilliantly plumed people from 100-plus tribes, gathered together, their outfits imposing and impressive, their attitudes proud but welcoming—these are the images that come to mind for many when they picture PNG. This gathering is a highlight of the annual show. The Goroka Show is September 14–16. Multiple tour companies operate trips to the show.

5. HIKE THE KOKODA TRAIL

What was once a World War II battlefield has now become a rite of passage for modern travellers. Hiking it is no picnic. It’s a 96-kilometre slog along an undulating and often muddy trail. Multiple operators take treks along the Kokoda Trail.

6. SURF THE WAVES OF TUPIRA

There isn’t a surfer alive who doesn’t dream of a perfect break without anyone else on it. And Tupira, in the province of Madang, offers that place with just one surf club, which caps its occupancy at 12 surfers. Tupira Surf Club: tel. +675 7349 3169.

7. KAYAK PNG’S FJORDS

PNG has fjords. That’s the first surprise of many who visit the beautiful area around Cape Nelson in the northern Oro Province. The fjords are perfect for exploring by kayak. Stay in Tufi, a small village (as well as the name of the resort, tufidive.com).

This is an abridged version of an article that first appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Paradise, the inflight magazine of Air Niugini.

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