Madang, Papua New Guinea
Mysterious, primitive and perched on a peninsula encircled by mountains, Madang was once named the ‘prettiest town in the South Pacific’. This settlement of almost 30,000 people forms a comparatively modern centre in a nation where it’s common to feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
Madang is the perfect launching pad to explore Papua New Guinea’s beautiful underwater worlds, with crystal clear water visibility offering some of the best diving experiences on earth, particularly around wrecks of sunken ships and WWII aircraft. There’s plenty of raw beauty to see above the water surface too, with vibrant cultural experiences in surrounding thatched home villages, and plenty of authentic shopping to be had amongst the traditional markets filled with shells, carvings and locally made pottery.
Passengers arriving in Madang will dock in Madang Harbour where it’s common for arriving ships to be greeted by enthusiastic locals in scores of outrigger canoes.
Madang port is located in the Bismarck Sea, on Papua New Guinea’s north coast. The port is situated in the centre of town in Madang Harbor, a small deep-water inlet with wharves and anchoring facilities that can accommodate vessels up to 500 feet. The port welcomes plenty of cargo vessels, with Madang receiving the most cruise ship and motor yacht arrivals in Papua New Guinea.
With a simple pier and no tourist services, there’s not much at the port itself to distract cruise visitors. There is, however, a PMV (public motor vehicle) bus stop and basic stores close by including a supermarket and cash and carry market offering clothing, food and other practical supplies. There is also snorkelling equipment for purchase at the sports shop in town, and banks providing currency exchange services.
How to Get Around
Highways in Papua New Guinea are limited and many roads are in disrepair. This makes the best option for cruise visitors to get around during their time in port as part of an organised shore excursion. There are the usual car rental agencies in town, but seek the advice of the staff at the Madang Visitors and Cultural Bureau on Molidon Road if you’re going to head out on your own.
The Madang Resort and other attractions in town can be easily reached on foot; however, it’s best to stick in groups and keep a tight hold on valuables. For safety reasons, avoid walking around town after dark. Taxis can be taken from around the port and near the centre of town, but are also easily accessed from the major hotels and resorts. It’s worth agreeing to fares beforehand.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 25 minute journey to Madang Resort and Kalibobo Village Resort
- It is a 35 minute journey to Madang Lighthouse
- It is a 16 minute journey to the Madang Visitor and Cultural Bureau.
- It is a 4 minute journey to Madang Resort
- It is a 5 minute journey to Madang Visitor and Cultural Bureau and the Madang museum
- It is an 8 minute journey to Madang Airport.
- Currency - Papua New Guinea uses the Papua New Guinean kina (PGK), which is available in 5, 10,20 50 toea and 1PGK coins, and 2PGK, 5PGK, 10PGK, 20PGK, 50PGK, and 100PGK banknotes.
- Time Zone - Papua New Guinea operates on Papua New Guinea (PNG) time, which is 10 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather – The country in general has warm temperatures and high humidity rates, but this is particularly the case in the Milne Bay area. Cyclone season is generally accepted as being between January and April, and the annual average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius.
- Resort Hopping - Kick back and relax at the connecting Mandang and Kalibobo Village resorts, set on the waterfront among 10 acres of lush tropical gardens. Have lunch and get pool privileges, or sign up for one of the harbour cruises arranged by the resort. The Mandang Resort has cultural performances daily, including dancing and musical pageants with participants adorned in traditional Papua New Guinean dress.
- Balek Wildlife Sanctuary - Located 10 kilometres south of Madang, this sanctuary was featured in the 1996 movie production of Robinson Crusoe, starring Pierce Brosnan. Feed turtles and eels fresh bananas and watch the sulphur springs bubbling out of ancient limestone caves.
- Mandang Visitors and Cultural Bureau - For up-to-date information about transport, day excursions and things to do, stop in at the Mandang Visitors and Cultural Bureau near the intersection of Coronation Drive and Molidon Road, the main road heading into town. Learn about PNG’s past in the adjoining museum and marvel over traditional artefacts including spears, masks, pottery and accounts of the tribal process of initiating boys into manhood.