Milne Bay Province takes in the land at the extreme eastern end of Papua New Guinea together with seven groups of islands; the Trobriand, Woodlark, Laughlan, Louisiade Archipelago, the Conflict Group, the Samarai Group and the D'Entrecasteaux Group. The names come from a variety of explorers from as early as 1660 when D'Entrecasteaux sailed through the area.
Over the years, Milne Bay Province has been visited by missionaries, miners, traders in pearls, scientists and Japanese and American warships. During the war Milne Bay became a huge naval base through which hundreds of thousands of servicemen passed.
Today thousands of tourists arrive to enjoy diving around the wreckage left behind from the war. There are 160 named islands and 500 cays and atolls scattered over 250,000 square kilometres of ocean. In many parts of Milne Bay, the reefs are characterised by dramatic drop-offs, clefts and overhangs.
The most comfortable way to enjoy Milne Bay diving is aboard one of the live-aboard dive boats based out of Alotau, the provincial headquarters. The 60 foot MV Chertan can comfortably accommodate up to 14 divers. The MV Telita was Papua New Guinea's first live-aboard dive boat and was designed specifically as a live-aboard diving vessel. Built in 1992, the boat has five twin-berth cabins, sophisticated electronic equipment, a bar, video, stereo, a well-equipped library and a charging console for photographers.
Things to See
Alotau: Alotau, spectacularly sited on the edge of Milne Bay, is a good base for visiting the outlying islands. Fergusson Island has an active thermal region, hot springs, bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and volcanoes and Misima Island was the scene of a 1930 gold rush from which a major mine has now been developed. Woodlark Island is populated by people of Melanesian ancestry, who are known for their expertly crafted wood carvings.
Samarai & the China Strait: The 24ha Samarai Island was the provincial government headquarters until 1968. There are guesthouses here or you can stay on other nearby islands. All have good beaches and reefs and some have walking trails.
D’Entrecasteaux Islands: The largest in the island group is Fergusson Island which reaches 2073m and has thermal areas with hot springs and bubbling mud pools. Salamo offers guesthouses for accommodation, as does Nadi, 45 minutes by boat along the coast. There are also plenty of amazing tracks for walking and tramping.
The district headquarters is at Esa'ala on Normanby Island, at the entrance to the spectacular Dobu Passage. There are guesthouses close by to base yourself while travelling and there are many reefs close to town for stunning snorkelling.
At 26 kilometres across and 2566 metres high, Goodenough Island is a spectacularly rugged island which rises above a flat coastal plain. Accommodation is available in the area’s largest settlement, Bolubolu and in Vaiava village. The peaks of Goodenough Island can be climbed from Lokulokuya Village in two days, however permission must be gained and it is advised to take a guide. Snorkelling in this area is one-of-a-kind.
Trobriands: One of the best locations to enjoy the charms of the friendly and peace loving Milne Bay people is the low-lying Trobriand Islands. Their unique social system is dominated by hereditary chieftains who continue to wield tremendous power and influence, although inheritances and lines of power are passed through the female side of the family. From June - August the Milamala yam harvest festival is held. The Milamala starts with a procession of men carrying the newly harvested yams from the garden storage hut to the village yam houses while the women ahead sing and dance. During the festival time, traditional rites are observed. It was from Malinowski's anthropological studies of the customs and sexual practices during this time that The Trobriands became known as The Islands of Love.
Losuia, on the biggest island of Kiriwina, has accommodation, yet there are few other facilities. Village stays and visits to numerous freshwater holes or burial caves can be arranged during your stay. The best beach for swimming is at Wawela, which also has a lagoon and reef for snorkelling.
East Cape: The easternmost point of the mainland can be visited in a day or you can stay at Oima Guesthouse, the last village. Snorkelling and diving are fantastic here and beaches and scenery en route to the cape are beautiful
Things to Do
Diving: Places to dive in Milne Bay and the surrounding islands are innumerable and are best enjoyed from a live-aboard dive boat. The local experts, Milne Bay Marine Charters, also offer day trips.
Cruising: Explore the islands in style, aboard the luxury Melanesian Discoverer, which cruises between Alotau and Madang via the Trobriands. Small boats can also be chartered.
Island hopping: Airlines PNG offers a regular ‘milk run’ around the islands, which is the ideal way to see a range of remote areas in a short amount of time.
Walking / trekking: The Weddau area on the north coast offers a stunning selection of walks, including a three to four day hike from Weddau to Alotau. For great views you can hike to the top of Mount Pasipasi (600m), behind Dogura. The Cape Vogel area also has bush trails and waterfalls to explore from the Bogaboga Guesthouse.
Take a tour: Locally organised tours will give visitors an insight into the everyday life of the people of Milne Bay. A local tour is also the perfect way to discover the true highlights of the area.
Bird watching: The Alotau area is well known for abundant bird life.
Click here to view accommodation listing in the Milne BayProvince