AlotauMilne Bay, Papua New Guinea.
Far from the violence of PNG's capital, Port Moresby, it is no surprise that this laid-back little town to the east of PNG has resisted construction of a highway from the nation's capital. A relaxed and easy-going place on the edge of Milne Bay, Alotau is also a gateway to some of the most fascinating and unspoilt islands in the world.
By planeAlotau's airport is called Gurney, named after a WW2 fighter pilot.
- Air Niugini has daily flights from the nation's capital, Port Moresby.
- Airlines PNG has daily flights from Lae as well as Port Moresby and also connects Alotau twice-weekly with the Trobriand Islands and with Misima.
- By coastal freighter. It may be possible to reach Alotau from Port Moresby or Lae by cargo freighter. There is no passenger-only shipping. Ask around at Port Moresby or Lae harbors, and be prepared for a long wait!
- Walk!. Alotau is not very large and the people are very friendly, so walking will give you a good chance to meet them. The local word for foreigner is DimDim, so if you hear children calling that after you it does not mean they think you are stupid!
You can get on a dinghy and see the islands.
- Diving. The diving is reportedly fantastic but Alotau gets few visitors and the one dive shop has closed down for lack of customers.
There is good fresh food most of the week, except Saturday afternoon and Sunday at the Alotau market in town toward the water. Great bananas, sweet potatoes, yams, greens, green beans and all sorts of seafood, including crabs.
Grocery stores often have in-store fast food and there is a really good value restaurant in town as well, something like the Kai House.
phone: +675 641 030022 rooms with panoramic views of the Bay.
phone: +675 641 0098Seven bungalows on the edge of the Bay a few minutes from Alotau.
address: Charles Abel HighwayBungalow village accommodation. Live with the Mataios, a lovely family. Food included, many tours of Milne Bay Province available on request.
Napatana Ecotourism LodgeFive bungalows and some twin "Flashpacker" rooms, close to the Bay
Masurino LodgeRun by a family descended from a 19th Century English missionary, the Lodge offers 24 Standard Rooms and 12 Executive Rooms, as well as some family units.
Ulumani - Treetops Rainforest lodgeOwned and operated by the traditional landowners of the area. Includes comfortable units and a dormitory for backpackers. In the heart of the rainforest on the Southern arm of Milne Bay, about one hour's drive from Alotau.
Doini Island Plantation resort1100 hectares of coconut palms and rainforest, surrounded by white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, with a nine-hole golf course. Bungalows are right on the sea, and there is a shared guest house that provides inexpensive accommodation.
- Trobriand Islands. The "Islands of Love" according to anthropologist Malinowski. Remote islands, nice beaches, and an idiosyncratic version of cricket.
- Samarai. A short boat ride from Alotau. Former capital of Milne Bay province. 20 minutes to walk round the island, with a few memories of its former importance.
- Fergusson Island. A geothermal island. Good bird watching with a rare species of Bird of Paradise and the Curl Crested Manucode. Can only be reached by boat.
- Goodenough Island and Normanby Island. Totally unspoilt islands for exploring, bird watching, etc. Very limited accommodation.
- Misima Island. With 5000 people, the most populated and most accessible island of the Louisiade Archipelago. Briefly flirted with a change of lifestyle when a gold mine was opened in 1990, but that closed in 2004.
- Samarai. This small island, at the entrance to Milne Bay, was a boom town in the 19th Century, with up to five hotels to accommodate gold prospectors on their way to and from the Milne Bay islands. Little is now left of this prosperity but it is still a fascinating place to visit.