Why Papua New Guinea should be on your bucket list
For many travellers, Papua New Guinea is an exciting mystery. And for many, it will stay that way. It’s remote and rugged, with little contact with the rest of the world – and that’s where its beauty lies. Home to hundreds of tribal groups that speak over 800 languages, exploring Papua New Guinea with P&O Cruises Australia will give you a peek inside this incredible melting pot of culture.
Everything you need to know about travelling in Papua New Guinea
Our top Papua New Guinea facts to keep in mind before you visit:
In Papua New Guinea, the currency is called kina (PGK). To give you an idea of the conversion, $1 Australian dollar is equal to 2.33 PGK.
Outside of the resorts and large boutiques, cash is preferred. If you need to take out kina, there are ATMs in the main towns, and currency exchange services at the ports. Tipping and haggling are customary, even at the markets.
The people of Papua New Guinea speak more than 800 languages recorded. Tok Pisin (Pidgin) is a creole language spoken throughout Papua New Guinea and is the lingua franca in the country. Luckily, English is an official language as well.
To visit Papua New Guinea, you’ll need a passport with six month’s validity. Whilst visas aren’t usually required for cruisers, you should check what travel documentation you may require with the Department of Home Affairs.
Note that the destinations that our ships visit are completely safe.
The climate is tropical, and temperatures hover around 20 to 30 degrees year-round. The low season runs from December to March. The best time to visit is in the summer months when the sea conditions are best and the Milne Bay microclimate is mostly dry.
Most travellers fly from one destination to another in Papua New Guinea – but we’ll drop you right at the dock. If you’ve signed up for shore tours, we will let you know about the next steps to get you from ship to dock. It’s quite easy to walk around the islands.
Eating & Drinking
When you want to experience Papua New Guinean food, head straight to the village markets. These are the vibrant epicentres of local life, and you’ll find stalls lined with fresh fruits and vegetables. In most villages, the locals eat an abundance of starchy veggies and tropical fruit, such as sweet potato, yam, rice, tomatoes, avocados, bananas, papaya and pineapple.
Unlike the villages, most of the towns will serve chicken, pork and fish to tourists. Chinese, Korean and Indian eateries are also becoming more and more common.
You could also follow your nose to a kai bar for a casual meal. They sell comfort food like sausage rolls, fries, and chicken.
As for drinks, enjoy coffee and kulau (young coconut milk), or sip on the popular SP Lager beer, known as ‘White Can’ or ‘Green Can’.
On the Conflict Islands you’ll also enjoy resort experience with plenty of bars and dining options.
How to make the most of your trip to Papua New Guinea
On the P&O New Guinea Island Encounter Cruise you’ll spend leisurely days onboard and three amazing days exploring some rather unique destinations of Alothu, the Conflict Islands and Kiriwina Island.
We chose these ports for their beauty and rich cultural traditions. They’re diverse and colourful, and will leave you with stories you’ll be telling for a lifetime.
The capital of the Milne Bay Province, Alotau made its way into the history with the Battle of Milne Bay in 1942, but in reality, Alotau is one of the most peaceful places on earth. It has a beautiful harbour and a thriving cultural scene, making it the perfect destination for all types of travellers.
The absolute highlight is the Alotau Cultural Festival. It’s a tribal singsing, a dazzling mix of songs, dances and other ritual performances that are put on especially for P&O Cruises guests.
Beyond the festival, you could sign up for a tour of the town. Be sure to pop into the local market. It’s a hive of activity, selling everything from fresh produce to woven bags and wood carvings, which the region is famous for.
If you want to immerse yourself deeper into the culture, we have a few shore tours that can help you to do just that. You could take a traditional Papua New Guinean cooking class, or take a guided tour of the local schools and markets.
There aren’t many people that can say they’ve visited the Conflict Islands. A group of 21 pristine islands in Papua New Guinea, they’re notoriously hard to get to – so cruising is the best way to visit.
Named after the ship that charted the islands back in 1886, the Conflict Islands are – in a word – paradise. They are home to one of the world’s most biodiverse reef systems. If you want to get up close to the coral reefs and marine life, you can snorkel or scuba dive. Otherwise, you can join a glass bottom boat tour or you can hop onto a stand-up paddleboard or kayak and admire the islands that way. You’d be forgiven for feeling like you’re living in a postcard for the day!
If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, spend the day sunning yourself on the white-sand beaches.
Round off your time in the Conflict Islands with a tour of the Turtle Nursery. There, you can watch baby turtles waddle around, and even hand-feed them a specially-made formula. Don’t forget your camera!
For years, anthropologists have been fascinated with the Trobriand Islands – and for good reason. The locals live like they would have done centuries ago, and they welcome visitors with open arms. Our cruise stops at Kiriwina, the main island, where you can immerse yourself in traditional village life for the day. Located in the Milne Bay province, Kiriwina stands out for being a matrilineal society. Women make the rules – and cricket is king.
It won’t take long to rope the locals into a game of Trobriand Cricket. It’s an unconventional twist on the sport – anyone can join in, and the players often break out in spontaneous song and dance. And only played when a ship is in town!
After the game, stroll through the village and observe the headmen and rainmakers (who are believed to summon rain). You’ll spot WWII relics next to beautifully decorated yam houses. Yams aren’t just a staple food; they’re also a symbol of prestige, and locals often hang yams to their homes after a successful harvest.
There are market stalls dotted around the island selling timber carvings, coconuts, and other trinkets.
And after that, head to the beach for a swim.