Things To Do in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Accommodation and Shopping
A number of guest houses and a small island resort provide comfortable accommodation. Coupled with the market and a good range of shops, cafes and coffee shops, on the main waterfront - you'll be sure to enjoy your stay.
Explore the underwater wonderland on Buka's pristine coast. The waters are a treasure trove of tropical fish-life and is ideal for swimming, diving and snorkeling. The clear waters of the Buka Passage of an excellent spot - however be careful of strong currents. For a more sheltered spot, explore the many little islands near the southern end of the passage. Visibility in this area is almost unlimited, with wartime wrecks including a Japanese Zero aircraft only a few meters deep.
Visit Off-shore Islands
Boats go out regularly to the islands off the coast of Buka and Bougainville. These islands are great for swimming and fishing. Sohano Island is just a few minutes by boat from Buka and until 1960 was the seat of provincial government. Sohano still has colonial-period buildings with manicured lawns and gardens.
The outer islands of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are isolated, tranquil and beautiful, with white sandy beaches and clear aqua water - a perfect place to relax in the sun. The steep cliffs of Sohano Island also offer excellent swimming beaches.
Trekking the Numa Numa
This is an arduous trail that stretches 62 kilometers from Numa Numa at Wakunai on the east coast of Bougainville, over the Crown Prince Range of Bougainville Islands to Torokina on the west coast.
Arts and Crafts
The crafts and customs of Buka and North Bougainville are fascinating for anyone interested in the culture. Featured on the provincial flas is a tall hat, known as the Upei. The Upei is a woven headdress worn by young men at their initiation and marriage ceremonies.
At the Saturday markets the Siwai and Telei folk of the mountainous south-west present their famous Buin baskets. These are justifiably some of the South Pacific's best basket weavers, crating perfectly round hand baskets with delightful colours and intricate lids. Also look out for the intricately woven Buka baskets, which are made from jungle vine.
The Bougainville wooden carvings are also quite well-known, with the Tinputz carving geometrical designs and the folk of North Bougainville producing abstract animal and human forms. To the south the villlage artisan at Rorivana turn out realistic human carvings.
There are more bird species on Bougainville than there are on the mainland of New Guinea, with 98 resident non-marine bird species and is second only to Guadalcanal in bird diversity among Pacific Islands east of the Bismarck Archipelago.
Though many of these bird species are identified there is an elusive bird that avid scientists have yet to identify - locals refer to it as the 'Odidi', named after its bird song heard sometimes in the morning.
Some of the birds you can spot in Bougainville include the Pied Goshawk, Solomon Sea-Eagle, Bougainville Crows, Island Imperial-Pigeons, Mackinlay's Cuckoo-Dove, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Cicadabird, Steel-blue Flycatcher, Island Monarch, Black-and-white Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Bougainville Monarch, Yellow-throated White-eye, Brown-winged Starling, Pacific Swallow and so many more.
For the adventurous cyclist, the roads in Bougainville and Buka Island are in great condition for cycling. They are a mixture of crushed and compacted coral in some places and bitumen in others.
You can cycle around the whole of Buka Island in under a day and you could cycle from Kokopau to Arawa between two to three days and set up overnight camps in villages.
You would have to bring your own bicycle or buy one from the local stores as there are no bicycles for hire here. You would also need to cycle with a local guide.
Initiated boys from Bougainville wearing traditional 'upei'. Credit: David Kirkland
List of Accommodation in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
List of Tour Operators in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville