Beachy Papua New Guinea

This post was written in 2014, but probably mostly current.

Lengthy message to a tripadvisor correspondent who wanted to know about beaches in #PNG. It wound up being a fair slab of a tourist guide. My knowledge is a bit out of date; after some pleasant times in PNG I left two years ago and now I’m in Afghanistan – a very different place!

That said, PNG does not change a lot from year to year. When you said beach, I immediately thought ‘New Ireland’, a long skinny island in the north, with Kavieng as the main town, with the 250 km Boluminski Highway running around the coast. I also thought that the problem with beaches is that PNG is much more oriented to diving tourism and beach tourism isn’t really on the radar, but there are still plenty of coastal resorts, and there are beaches, and yes lots of culture. Would a pool suffice for swimming? Many have that.

The standard caution: Always be aware of what is happening around you and check with locals – e.g. hotel reception – which are OK places to go and when. You will stand out as being rich if you are white, and therefore a tempting target. And read the travel advice on smarttraveller.gov.au, it’s compiled by the Aussie High Comm people. They deal with all the unlucky people who have trouble. I have seen a lot of bum posts on forums – Lonely Planet thorn tree, I’m looking at you – where so and so says I went to such and such and it is perfectly safe, and I think, no you were just lucky.

Having said all that, the up side is that many of the beachy resorts tend to be in places where the security issues that you get in places like Port Moresby are minimal in daytime. Among the places I mention below, the only dodgy one is Kimbe. I would however never leave any resort at night on foot. I haven’t mentioned Madang, because it’s not the safe place it used to be.
Two further cautions: First you don’t want to get Malaria, so make sure you take some good mosquito repellent. Bushman 20% or 40% in a pump bottle is recommended. A trip to a travel doctor is also worth while, and you will have a lot of vaccinations recommended. If going to the travel doctor, go early as with some of the things they suggest you need time for the immunity, or it is a course of injections. Second, know you are doing third world tourism and you won’t get the standards you have in the west. Tired resorts, things that don’t work, nothing happens on time. But extremely warm and welcoming the locals are for sure. If you expect things to not always go to plan, or work, and not be sparling clean, you’ll do fine. If you want clean and shiny rooms, the two hotels I mention are OK.

Hyper two year olds?: no worries, the locals love children. All the resorts I mention below offer the chance to get you – and hyper kids – out of your room and wander around the resort. Quiet, all these places are small towns or less. BTW would love to see a hyper kid meeting a local for the first time!!

Late December is early wet season. In all the places I mention below, this means the time of year when the most rain comes down. But you get rainy days all year at these places, and not significantly more rainy days in the wet season than in the rest of the year, especially in the North where you’re getting close to the equator.

Ok, so here’s some options for you to mull over. I have included the places’ web sites so you can have a look and see what they have to offer. In relation to the cultural stuff, get in contact with the resort concerned, they are usually able to do a tour, typically that would involve visiting a village. All these places, apart from Loloata, are a flight out of Port Moresby (which often involves a rather expensive overnight in Moresby)

1. Kokopo, capital of East New Britain. Has lots to offer and a town you can walk around. I have stayed at the Gazelle International and reviewed it on tripadvisor, this is a hotel on the coast, has a nice pool but no beach. If you’re after clean, air con and comfortable rooms it’s fine. But a bit sterile. http://gazelleinternationalhotel.com/ I have also been to Kokopo Beach Bungalows but not stayed there; friends have stayed there and have raved about it. has a pool, again on the coast, and claims a private beach. Has a good tour desk. In Kokopo there is a market which is pretty safe and you can interact with the locals. The tours are fascinating, the volcano wrecked town of Rabaul is worth a look, as are the world war two relics which are some of the best in PNG, in a full day tour. See http://www.kbb.com.pg/

2. Kavieng, main town (very small) of New Ireland. Never been there but as mentioned above New Ireland is beach. The best known resort is Malagan Beach Resort: http://www.malaganpng.com/. There are others which are probably just as good, a number of guest houses. Here is New Ireland’s Tourism Website, which has a lot of accommodation choices. http://www.newirelandtourism.org.pg/accomm.htm Note that PNG websites are often poorly maintained and info is not always up to date. Also a guest house may be oriented to the standards of a local tourist, which might not be yours. Then again some are pretty good.

3. Walindi Dive Resort, near Kimbe, West New Britain. Have stayed here and it is a very nice and peaceful place, in the middle of nowhere on the coast. Very much oriented to diving. You fly into Kimbe (Hoskins airport) to get here and it’s a 45 minute drive on the other side of Kimbe, capital of West New Britain, through endless oil palm plantations. the resort is in the middle of one of the plantations. Absolutely beautiful place and nice separate bungalows but beware: Kimbe Town is not a place to walk around. But Kimbe is nowhere near the resort.

4. Alotau, capital of Milne Bay Province in the far East of PNG. Small town and ok to wander around in daylight (or used to be). Variety of options: Alotau international I’ve stayed at, in the middle of town, like a large motel but on the coast, not really a beach, and has a pool. http://www.alotauinternationalhotel.com.pg/ Napatana Lodge is also on the coast, cheaper and less like a motel, haven’t stayed there but eaten there several times and has (or had) a great restaurant. http://www.napatanalodge.com/

5. Loloata, island resort just outside Port Moresby. A small island, not really beachy, but has a pool. http://www.loloata.com/ Its advantage is that they will meet you at the airport at Port Moresby and take you there, which saves the time and cost of an extra internal flight. If sea snakes turn you off don’t go, there are kraits that come up onto the shore a fair bit. They aren’t an issue unless you step on one, and as they are striped black and white they are hard to miss.

6. Transit through Port Moresby. In some cases you can’t get a same day connecting flight to some of these places, and Loloata isn’t really practical for an overnight transit. Which means overnighting in Port Moresby. Airways Hotel is very nice and very close to the airport so for pure transit it is the go. You can wander around the large grounds as it is a secure gated community. See http://www.airways.com.pg/ Another option that is cheaper but has less wandering around room and is much more basic is the hideaway: http://www.accommodationpng.com/ Both Airways and Hideaway are only a 5 minute drive, and all the big Port Moresby hotels do airport transfers. Don’t take a taxi from the airport. If you wanted to stop in Port Moresby itself I’d go for the Grand Papua first, but its usually booked out. http://www.grandpapuahotel.com.pg/ Failing that the Crowne Plaza http://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/port-moresby/pompg/hoteldetail Both are centrally located in Town and you can walk down to the main street. Only in broad daylight and only into the main street of town, don’t walk anywhere else at all. Apart from the hideaway these are the best places in town, suggested because the second best places tend to charge just as much.

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