Milne Bay

Milne Bay is a beautiful, peaceful province in the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea. This area is renowned for its beautiful coral reefs, a diving resort and for the fascinating culture of some of its islands.


A village on Fergusson Island in Milne Bay Province

Other destinations


Milne Bay covers a sea area of 252,990 km². It has more than 600 islands, of which about 160 are inhabited. There are about 210,000 inhabitants, who speak 48 languages. Economically the province has few cash-earning resources and most of the inhabitants have a quasi-subsistence lifestyle. There is an oil palm plantation near Alotau airport and villagers grow coconuts and some cocoa. A gold mine on Misima Island has closed down.

The province has some fascinating cultural traditions.

  • The Kula ring. This is a ceremonial exchange system that covers 18 islands of the archipelago and involves thousands of individuals. Participants can travel hundreds of miles by canoe in order to exchange Kula valuables. These are red shell-disc necklaces that circle the ring in a clockwise direction and white shell armbands that are traded anti-clockwise. These items are not used but are traded in order to enhance social status and prestige. Trading relations involve strong mutual obligations to provide hospitality, protection and assistance. Kula valuables must be rapidly passed on to other partners and thus constantly circle the ring. Even temporary possession brings prestige and status. Chiefs can have hundreds of trading partners while others may have less than ten.

The coral reef systems of Milne Bay are some of the most biodiverse in the world, and as such attract equal attention from dive operators and conservation groups. The D'Entrecasteaux Islands still have volcanic activity, especially around Dobu and Fergusson Islands.

Get in

Get around

Airlines PNG connects Alotau twice-weekly with the Trobriand Islands and with Misima in the Louisiade Archipelago.

Occasional cargo vessels connect the islands and it may be possible to get a ride on the deck. But, realistically, the best way to see Milne Bay is by sailing. The province attracts many yachties, particularly from Australia. The Louisiade Archipelago area is well charted but yachts tend to avoid the area around the Trobriands as charts are unreliable.



The ladies at the Milne Bay Tourism Bureau are extremely useful for organizing trips around Alotau. They have many contacts for village stays, diving and snorkelling trips, and have useful local information. Customised itineraries using Alotau as a base can be organised through the Mataio family who run a guest house near Alotau. Tours can visit areas such as Suau, Savaia, Samarai, Nuakata, Goodenough island. For further details, see .


Nuli Sapi Ph:+675 7324 1726 (nulisapi Four traditional bush material bungalows and a restaurant set on poles over a tidal inlet. Located on Logeia Island, 10 minutes from Samarai Island or about one and a half hours from Alotau by dinghy. K250 per night, max 2 adults per bungalow.

Stay safe

Alotau is very safe when compared to the big cities of PNG. Be comfortable in letting your guard down a little here, although it is probably a good idea to avoid wandering the streets at night.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 10, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.