Alotau, Papua New Guinea
Those looking for a laidback day will certainly find it in the quaint town of Alotau, where the local residents enjoy a peaceful nature and relaxed attitude. If your visit happens to coincide with the Canoe and Kundu Festival in November, you can prepare to delight in a celebration thriving with vibrant colours and cheerful singing and dancing. Otherwise, you’re still in for a treat; Alotau is a little community with a big heart and a lot to offer visitors.
History buffs in particular will enjoy the numerous sites, museums, and leftover relics that speak of Alotau’s involvement in World War II – namely, the Battle of Milne Bay. The bay itself is just beyond Alotau and provides tourists the opportunity to explore remote islands and stunning coves.
Water lovers will no doubt find themselves snorkelling or scuba diving amidst the beautiful waters and exotic marine wildlife. Above all else, Alotau and Milne Bay are examples of unspoilt nature – the sites and views are simply unforgettable.
Alotau and its port sit on the eastern tip of the Papua New Guinean mainland. Cruise ships set anchor slightly off shore; tender boats will take you from there to the shore. Alotau is approximately 350 kilometres southeast of the capital Port Moresby. The town of Alotau and its port are practically one and the same.
The gateway to the island’s remote communities, the port of Alotau is a hub of activity, catering to commercial ships and providing cargo-handling and repair facilities, as well as a large storage area. There are limited facilities for cruise passengers disembarking; however, the amenities of the town are within walking distance.
How to Get Around
Alotau is a very small community, so it is fairly simple to walk between many of the tourist sites. Taxis are readily available in town for any tourists that want to explore more of the locations around Milne Bay. Cars can also be hired through the various taxi companies.
Hitchhiking is fairly common in the area for locals, but tourists should avoid this for safety reasons.
Visitors keen to experience some of the world’s most remote island communities are in luck – the Trobriand Islands, Samarai, Fergusson Island, and other islands are only a short boat ride away.
- Currency - The currency used in Alotau is the PNG Kina. Denominations are in K2, K5, K10, K20, K50, and K100 notes, as well as a K1 coin. Some restaurants might accept credit cards, but other places will not.
- Time Zone - Alotau’s time zone is Papua New Guinea Time (PGT), which is 10 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - The temperature in Alotau is typically between 21 and 27 degrees Celsius. Heat and humidity are expected given the country’s close proximity to the equator, but there is a dry season from December to May. Light rainfall during the day is common.
- Australian War Memorial - This recently opened memorial commemorates the 12-day battle that ensued between the Japanese Imperial Army and Australian battalions representing the Allied Forces, in which the Australians were ultimately successful. The battle was not of significant strategic importance, but the memorial recognises that it was the first time the Allies had held off the Japanese on land, and as such, considerably boosted the morale of Allied troops all across the South Pacific.
- Canoe and Kundu Festival - This local celebration is a must-see for any visitors to Alotau in early November. The streets are full of amazing decorations, the hypnotic pounding of drums, and the spectacle of 50 or so native warriors showcasing their strength and enthusiasm. The festival has a serious side too – it’s one of the few times of year when tribes from across the region get together to trade food and supplies.
- Milne Bay Game Fishing Club - Situated right on the wharf, Milne Bay Game Fishing Club can organise boats and fishing gear for tourists that want to get out onto Milne Bay. The waters here are perfect for game fishing, teeming with beautiful giant marlin, wahoo, tuna, sailfish and black bass. The club is also home to Driftwood Bar, an excellent spot for tourists to relax with a drink.
- Cameron Club - Located near the waterfront on the west side of town, Cameron Club is very popular local spot for dining and casual drinks. Try your luck against the locals at the snooker tables or head outside for a game of tennis or squash. The club is open from Monday to Saturday.