Marisa Howden reports on Madang, one of Papua New Guinea’s most idyllic coastal holiday destinations.
Pristine waters, white sandy beaches and idyllic islands make Madang a picture-perfect holiday destination and, only a 45-minute Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby, it’s no wonder it has been one of PNG’s top tourism destinations for years.
While the town has recently seen a drop in tourism, the industry is still going strong, offering everything from diving and fishing to snorkelling and surfing. And with a quarter of the country’s 800 languages originating from Madang, it’s a cultural hotspot worth visiting.
So, if you’re after a one-stop shop for your next holiday or weekend away, look no further.
Trusted security company Guard Dog (guarddogpng.com) offers private transfers, but in this spread-out town it’s nice to have your own car, which can be organised through either of the two main hotels – Madang Lodge or Madang Resort. Both hotels offer complimentary transfers from the airport. PMV buses are available Monday to Saturday.
The Coastwatcher’s Lighthouse, Kalibobo, is synonymous with Madang. This towering structure pays tribute to the coast watchers who aided the allies in World War 2
‘The best thing about Madang is the water. Crystal clear, turquoise waters fringe the coastline, offering an idyllic spot for all things aquatic.’
Balek Wildlife Sanctuary, which featured in the 1997 production of Robinson Crusoe, is a small village about 30 minutes from Madang. A sulfuric creek runs from the mountains through a limestone cave to a crystal clear stream where turtles, fish and eels gather. Tours can be organised with Melanesian Tourist Services (mtspng.com). The company can also take you to Bil Bil, a quiet village along the coast where you can see traditional clay pots being made, and Alexishafen, a catholic missionary site occupied by the Japanese during the war.
The best thing about Madang is the water. Crystal clear, turquoise waters fringe the coastline, offering an idyllic spot for all things aquatic. Superb diving can be found in and around the harbour, where you’re likely to see the ‘big stuff’: schools of giant trevally and barracuda, as well as hammerhead sharks and rays. Or if you’re not one for going deep, there are pristine reefs on neighbouring islands Pig and Kranket, where you can happily spend hours snorkelling.
‘With over a quarter of the country’s languages, Madang is a cultural melting pot.’
If you’re keen on catching something big, game fishing is not to be missed. All water-based activities including PADI-accredited dive tours, as well as boat, catamaran and kayak hire can be organised through the Madang Resort. If you’re looking for the best place to catch waves, then head 90 minutes up the coast to Tupira Surf Club (sapng.com), host to the World Longboard Championships in 2017.
With over a quarter of the country’s languages, Madang is a cultural melting pot. A great way to sample the province’s rich culture is at the annual Madang Festival, usually held on the June long weekend. It’s here where you can view Madang customs through elaborate sing-sings, a series of songs and dance unique to each culture.
Located 30 kilometres from Madang, Karkar Island is a volcanic island known for its beautiful array of bilums. The Karkar Bilum Festival, usually held in October/November, offers a rare insight into bilum weaving.
Madang Resort (madangresort.com) offers a range of options for conferences and meetings, and has played host to many of the country’s top executives. From a small get-together, to a 400-person banquet, the resort offers fully air-conditioned spaces, catering and audiovisual equipment. The Madang Star International (madangstar.com.pg) is another excellent option, perfect for your small to medium-sized events.
This is an excerpt of the article ‘City Guide: Madang,’ which was first published din the January-February edition of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini.
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