June 8, 2023

This remote and exotic Pacific island is the perfect destination for adventure-seekers

For a rewarding journey along Papua New Guinea\’s Septik River, travel with a local tour operator, as they have connections with area tribes.
An island that sees fewer than 7,000 North American travelers per year, Papua New Guinea (PNG) represents the ultimate find for adventure-lovers: a truly off-the-beaten-path destination. With Silversea and Carnival Australia launching PNG coastal cruises and hotel rooms about to grow exponentially in capacity, this still remote island is becoming more accessible and exciting than ever before.

PNG is one of the world’s premier scuba diving destinations, with over 485,000 square feet of scuba-accessible reef systems, plus the highest diversity of fish and coral on Earth. Top spots for diving include the northeastern coastal cities of Madang, Rabaul and Kavieng, where divers can find gray reef sharks, eagle and mobula rays and Pacific pygmy seahorses. The turquoise waters are also home to Japanese and Australian aircraft and submarine wrecks from World War II, for history buffs.

Try dive operators such as Dive Adventures, World of Diving, Caradona and Outdoor Travel Adventures, which offer standard and customizable diving in PNG.

Water lovers can also hit the surf, which has earned a fabulous reputation in PNG. Vanimo, on the northeastern coast, imposes strict development regulations imposed by PNG’s National Surf Association, aiding in its sustainability and crowd regulation. The town has only four lodges, such as the Vanmino Surf Lodge, which books only 10 guests at a time – so make resevations at least 6 months ahead of time.

For truly hearty adventurers, the East Sepik province is full of traditional villages along the Sepik River – though the trek is not for the faint of heart, the 760 miles of river are home to 600 tribes and one of the most authentic cultural experiences available in the world today. In addition, the area is home to nearly all the world’s identified Birds of Paradise, making it a bird-enthusiasts dream trip.

Cultural tours along the Sepik River are offered by Goway Travel, International Expeditions and Travcoa, while local tour operators such as Sepik Adventure Travel have the benefit of close connections with local tribes.

PNG is also a country rich with World War II heritage, and one of its most fabulous offerings is the world-famous Kokoda Trail. The 60-mile course through the Owen Stanley mountain range played a pivotal role in 1942 battles between Japanese and Australian forces. Today, the historic trail is a gathering point for hikers from all over the world, offering the opportunity to pass through rainforests, rocky peaks and tribal villages.

Customized trips with local guides can be arranged by tour operators such as Kokoda Trekking and Adventure Kokoda.

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