The Life Aquatic
The Solomon Islands and PNG are both world-famous diving destinations, with excellent conditions most months of the year. The biodiversity beneath is astounding, with a colourful array of hard and soft corals and teeming fish life, along with a jaw-dropping collection of WWII plane-and shipwrecks.
Live-aboard boats and first-rate dive resorts provide access to sites far from the hordes. The waves are equally uncrowded for surf lovers, with fantastic reef, point and beach breaks scattered around the region’s northern shores. There’s also fantastic fishing in these pristine waters, with yellowfin tuna, mackerel, sailfish and the legendary Papuan black bass in abundance.
Home to more than 800 distinct languages and lifestyles, Papua New Guinea and the Solomons provide fascinating opportunities to be immersed in traditional cultures. It’s well worth planning your trip around over-the-top annual festivals:
see colourfully painted and feathered Highland warriors, fearless snake-wielding fire dancers and brilliantly attired island oarsmen chanting to the backdrop of pounding drums. Festivals aside, there are myriad ways to have a paradigm-altering experience: an impromptu singsing on the Trobriand Islands, learning about the legends of an eerie skull cave or sharing fruit with new-found friends on a bumpy PMV ride.
Travel is rarely easy in Melanesia, but the rewards are bountiful. After a few weeks of hard travel you can find your way to a pristine swath of coastline and unwind for a few days in a beautifully sited ecofriendly resort or bush-material village guesthouse overlooking the sea.
Spend your days snorkelling coral reefs, walking sandy beaches, paddling up placid rivers or lounging beneath a palm tree. By night, watch the sunset, feast on fresh seafood and watch the sky slowly fill with stars while daydreaming about the great adventures still ahead.
Diving in PNG & the Solomons
PNG and the Solomons rank among the best destinations on Planet Scuba, with an irresistible menu of underwater treasures: luscious reefs festooned with huge sea fans; warm waters teeming with rainbowcoloured and bizarre critters eerie drop-offs that tumble into the abyss; and a host of atmospheric WWII wrecks not to mention the thrill of diving uncrowded sites. A handful of beautifully set dive resorts provide the idyllic gateway to your undersea adventure. To reach even more remote and pristine environments, sign on to a live-aboard vessel.
It’s muddy and gruelling, with maddeningly steep uphill scrambles followed by slippery, bone-jarring descents. Treacherous river crossings ensure feet don’t stay dry for long, while the humidity wreaks havoc on even the best-prepared trekkers. Why walk the 96km Kokoda Track To follow in the footsteps of giants, recalling the great men who fought and died on this hellish, mountainous stretch. As you pass through remote villages and pause beside evocative war memorials you’ll find – like the many who’ve done it before – the rewards far outweigh the physical challenges.