Some of the best coral beaches in the world my friend and also very clean.
I think you would need to get intouch with them, but they normally except 100% of the fee. This enables them to organise your stay, events, security better and pay themselves and helpers as well.
You would need to get intouch with Bougainville Tourism or Papua New Guinea Tourism to assist with reputable operators who are registered on their database.
send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with their officers.
“ When you are travelling in the canoe at night, you have to slap the side of the canoe with the paddle every time you bring it out of the water, so the dugongs know that you are approaching,” the young man explained to me.
Mother & Child at Pidia Village
For village stay from K50 to K100 - K200 to be on the safe side. Its not a well developed industry at this stage. For trecking, a budget of around K200 per day or maybe more. Like i said, you would need to get intouch with tour operators there. visit the http://www.bougainvilletourism.org.pg/ website and see tour operators or get intouch with http://www.bougtours.com/ and organise something with Zhon.
Pidia Village in Arawa. Get intouch with Zhon Bosco of Boug Tours and he will link you up with Carmelita, a local lady there. Most of the island is Matrilineal so almost every village you visit you will be see the system. But its not all that you may thing. Ownership of land and children passes from women to women, not the men. However, men make important decisions and women take on a more spiritual and cultural significant role.This is Zhons email email@example.com. Also the Bougainville Tourism guys can give you a hand email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Bougainville: High up in the hills of Kongara, overlooking Kieta and Arawa is an amazing idea, just waiting for the intrepid traveler too stumble upon.
The Manee Resource Centre. More images at the bottom of this post
The Manee Resource Center is a brilliant project in the middle of the Kongara mountain forests being built for the preservation of certain old traditional knowledge of people in this area. It is entirely self funded.
Bougainville Journey - a simple traveler or tourist guide
(Hi, I wrote this to assist anyone setting of here. My sources include my own experience, Bougainville Tourism website, PNG Tourism Website, Wikipedia and some other sites. Its long, over 6000 words but should assist you. Regards Jaive)
The Bougainville Travelers Guide
After suffering the harshness of conflict and over a decade of isolation, the island province is moving ahead and tourism is an important part of this new future.
Bougainville is the largest (ca. 8680 km2) of the Solomon Islands Archipelago, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean about 600 km east of New Guinea and 600 km south of the equator. It is largely forested and has mountains rising up to about 2600 m, including active volcanoes.
Politically the island is part of Papua New Guinea and the province itself has special status and is known as the the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. It was previously known as the North Solomons. *I am referring to the island province as a whole as Bougainville in this update.
The large mountainous Bougainville Island and smaller flatter Buka Island are the main islands of a collection of islands the make up the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
I was there for a stay of 11 days and the following are some of my observations as a traveler which I hope can be of use to other travelers and promoters of Bougainville.
Bougainville has an exotic ‘of the beaten track’ allure to it and will fast become a destination for tourists who want to explore a unique part of Papua New Guinea.
What Makes Bougainville A Great Place for the Intrepid Traveler?
Put simply it is an amazing place. The Bougainville Crisis and the ensuing embargo on the island by the PNG authorities kept the island in relative isolation for over a decade before peace was finally achieved in the early 2000’s.
Emerging out of the Bougainville Crisis is an island with much of its pristine and beautiful environment intact and its culture stronger than ever. However alot of its infrastructure is in shambles and many places still in isolation but as time progresses, this too shall hopefully change.
Bougainville is a place where as an adventurer you would truly enjoy. It doesn’t offer full tourism packages, services or internationals standard hotels like the other provinces in PNG.
But what it can offer you is small scale, village based tourism with amazing world class adventures. These adventures include giant caves, active volcanoes, amazing wildlife, un-scavenged World War 2 sites, unique and very authentic cultural contacts with the local people and more.
It’s like a journey you have made to a secret place, a place of full of wonders, beauties and secrets, a place not many people see. In the 11 days I was in Bougainville, I only visited several sites, most of which you can find on the website www.myamazingparadise.com.
In this article I am including as many attractions as possible for the visitor.
Bougainville attractions include natural attractions, cultural attractions and events and historical attractions and more.
I have listed some below, some of which I have seen, some of which I didn’t but I hope you do.
This giant sinkhole has the largest cavern in the world (length = 470m, width = 150m and height = 170m). It is in the Torokina Area along the Keriaka Plateau. Impressively it contains an 18m tall stalagmite. There are many other caves on the main Bougainville Island and some easily assecible on Buka Island.
There are around 60 lakes in Bougainville including the largest Lake Lahala which is near Buin in the South of Bougainville. You can hike to see impressive Caldera lakes of Bougainville, namely Lake Billy Mitchel and Lake Loloru. These are fresh water lakes with marine life and surrounded by dense jungle.
Bougainville lies on the Pacific rim of fire, as a result the island is the home of six active volcanoes. Three of these active volcanoes are accessible by foot for arduous hiker.
Mt Balbi is an active volcano on the northern side of the main Bougainville Island and is the highest point in the province. The Mt Balbi has six craters, one of which has a beautiful crater lake.
Mt Bagana is one of the most active volcanoes in Papua New Guinea and lies in the center of the island. Mt Bagana is more active than Mt Balbi.
The other volcano of interest is Billy Mitchel, a few kms north east of Mt Bagana. Lake Billy Mitchel is in its 2km wide crater. The volcano is named after an American General considered to be the Father of the American Airforce. The lake has a depth of 90 metres and is surrounded by thick jungle.
You can hike to all volcanoes within a week, if you make your base at Wakunai, a one and a half hour’s drive south of Kokopau Town. Located across the Buka passage from Buka town, Kokopau is a transit hub that connects the administration center of Buka to the rest of the main island. Physically, the hike is very challenging.
Bougainville has a great many islands, some large and some small atolls, some habited, some with not a single soul on them, and others are very recent. The Two Main Islands are Buka and Bougainville.
Buka Island is the second major island of the Bougainville Province. It is mostly flat 40 km long in the north-south axis, and up to 10 kilometers wide in the west-east axis.
Most of the island is of limestone formation so is relatively dry.
Along the western coast there is a range of small mountains called the Richard Parkinson Range, named after the German planter and explorer. The highest peak in this range is Mt. Bei, which is 458m high. The few rivers on the island can be found here.
Buka Island is separated from the Bougainville Island by a 200m wide fast flowing channel known as the Buka passage.
The main town of the island is Buka Town. In the colonial period and prior to the Bougainville Crisis it was known as China Town. During the crisis this town was destroyed by militants.
Buka Island later became central to the PNG Defense operations in the island and as a result the town was redeveloped to become an administration center for Government agencies. After the ceasefire and the withdrawal of the military, the town became the present day capital of Autonomous Region of Bougainville. You will find the ARB Parliament on Buka as well as the offices of most of the Government agencies and private agencies.
Buka has ring roads that circumnavigate the whole island so it is a good drive.
There are a lot of things to see here including old World War II Bunkers, Caves, Limestone cliffs, large lagoons and local flaura and fauna including saltwater crocodiles and dugongs.
There is an extensive network of mangroves along most of the islands shore and the island itself is ringed by a coral reef, so great diving.
There is not a proper tour service on this island, despite its attractions so you would need to ask around and hire charters and cars yourself.
This is the larger main island. I won’t get into too much details about the island, just that it has a central mountainous ranges, has lots of volcanic activity as well as many offshore islands and reefs. Most of the sites worth visiting are here. You can learn more on the main island by visiting the Bougainville Tourism site.
Smaller, Interesting Islands
This is a small coral island with limestone cliffs on the Buka Passage. Sohano was an important administration center in the history of Bougainville during the colonial period up until the 1960’s.
It is a beautiful well kept place with lawns, gardens, old cemeteries, old colonial styles houses, giant trees and spectacular views of Buka Passage and the nearby islands from its limestone cliffs.
There is an arch shaped white monument to Japanese soldiers who died during WWII on top of the cliff facing the passage between Buka Town and Kokopau Town (on the main Bougainville Island).
There is also a wreck of Japanese fighter. Suhano was a Japanese Seaplane Base during WWII.
Just below the monument is ‘Chebu,’ a rock formation that seems to float on the Buka passage and regarded by locals as being a spirit.
To get to Sohana, you can just jump on anyone of the water taxis (motorized boats) at Buka or Kokopau and for K2 they will drop you there.
You can wander around and catch the taxis back when you are finished.
For War buffs, this island 100 km north of Buka has an American WWII airstrip and other relics including a WW2 swimming pool. There is a guest house there. You can hire a speed boat or ctach one of the regular shipping boats that travel out that way. If I was you, time your visit well, hire a speed boat out there and catch the regular ship back. You can do this for Catarats as well.
This a great island for swimming/snorkeling at East of Buka Town.
Every weekend if there is no rain, many families jump on motorized dingies and for around K20 (one way, K40 both ways) head out for a day picnicking on this island.
It’s called White Island because the sand here is so white and when its low tide, you can walk right out on narrow strips of sand and swim/snorkel in the surrounding sea and reefs.
Travel there takes around 10 minutes.
When I was there we spotted a dugong for a few minutes.
This is the site of an old and large copra plantation. Today a resort is being developed there as well. There are bungalows and barbeque areas open to the public.
It’s about 20 minutes out of Buka Town by boat. On the way you will either go throw a deep channel to get you there, or if the tide is up, you can take a ‘shortcut’ across the coral reefs. The reefs here are extensive and quite fascinating. I didn’t go for a swim or snorkel at all here, and this is one of my great regrets. Midias would be great for diving.
You will have to arrange your own boat charter in Buka Town.
Just off the coast of Kieta is Arovo Island. It is a rocky island with beautiful sandy white coral beaches and lush tropical forest and lots of birds. There is also a shipwreck there.
It used to be a famous island resort that was destroyed in the Bougainville crisis. It is still great for picnics, bird watching and diving.
It is also surrounded by areas that are sacred to Bougainvilleans here, so it would be wise to bring a local.
To get there, you need to arrange a charter with the locals.
This is a white sandy coral island that began to appear and rise out of the sea just off the coast of Arawa in the late 1990’s. It was only recently visited by the locals in the mid 2000’s when a lasting peace was finally achieved in the Bougainville crisis. It will take you between 45 – 60 minutes to get there.
It is nesting ground for pigeons (I am not a bird expert so I cant tell you what type they are). It is very close to several other small but well vegetated islands. There are several interesting occurrences here at this island that make it worthwhile to visit.
Firstly, it is spectacular, with sandy white beach, thousands of sea shells and hermits crabs everywhere, ringed and sheltered from the sea by spectacular reefs ( there are waves breaking everywhere).
If you just want to relax, grab some sun, have a picnic it’s a great place to visit. The locals come out all this way to fish.
Secondly, there seems to be something going on out here geologically. If you come early enough in the morning you will see vapor rising out of the sea and bubbles coming up. There are also sandy shallows nearby that are rising all the time and it seems only a matter of time before Pisin Island joins with these shallows and two nearby islands. I think this area is rising out of the sea, not so much because of the reefs but due to seismic activity. The locals think it might be a new volcano about to form here. I think that its movement by the main Bougainville Island that’s pushing this area up.
Thirdly, on the way here, you will pass other islands, some larger, others small. If you travel with a good guide ( I went with Constance of Pidia Village) they will show you islands and reefs of interests.
There is one uninhabited island we passed where only a certain type of salwater fish can be found. Though it seems that it is shallow near the beach, my guide explained that there is a sharp fall, like a crack in the ocean floor near the beach and this is where this fish can be found. you need to be a stronger diver. She explained that recently a young diver drowned here and it took several attempts to bring his body back to the surface.
There is also a reef in this area that they call Octupus reef because it has a ‘head’ and ‘eight arms’ stretching out in different directions. It’s quite spectacular when you watch waves rush into break in different directions on the reef.
During my short stay in Bougainville, I saw a dugong and had dolphins escort me one morning on a boat ride. I was told that the locals do not hunt dugongs and turtles as much as before (many prefer not to eat them). Apparently, there are dugongs everywhere here.
Dugongs are very rare in the rest of the world and are listed as a protected species in many places so it was quite a good surprise to learn that there were so many in Bougainville.
There are also salt water crocodiles that live in different spots around the islands.
If you want to see them, small Buka and its large mangrove systems and some of the rivers and lagoons are great places to start.
But be careful, as these are crocodiles after all.
Bougainville before the crisis was famous as fishing and diving location. For anglers, divers and also researchers and scientists, Bougainville with its relatively un-spoilt and very large marine ecosystems will in time prove an irresistible lure.
Bougainville has large extensive networks of mangroves that cover many areas of the province. Most prominent and easily accessible of these are the Buka Island Mangrove system. The mangroves are a great habitat for crocodiles, shell fish, fish, crabs as well as birds and other creatures.
These mangroves are vital to the local economy as many villagers produce ‘lime’ from shells collected at these mangroves, which they sell at the markets.
The lush jungles of the islands provide homes for thousands of animals such as cuscus, possums, rare Kingfishers, large rats, wild pigs and more.
During my short stay, I mainly saw birds, and when I say birds I mean a lot of birds.
There are more bird species on Bougainville than there are in on the mainland of New Guinea. It has 98 resident non – marine bird species and is second only to Guadalcanal in bird diversity among Pacific Islands east of the Bismarck Archipelago.
Though many of these bird species are identified there are some that still thwart the avid researchers attempt to identify, including one bird that the locals call ‘Odidi.’The name comes from its bird song which can be heard sometimes in the morning.
Some of the birds you can spot in Bougainville include the Pied Goshawk, Solomon Sea-Eagle, Bougainville Crows, Island Imperial-Pigeons, Mackinlay’s Cuckoo-Dove, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher , Cicadabird , Steel-blue Flycatcher, Island Monarch, Black-and-white Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Bougainville Monarch , Yellow-throated White-eye, Brown-winged Starling , Pacific Swallow and more.
I was told by Zhon Bosco of Bougainville Experience Tours that many bird watchers travel to Bougainville every year.
Flora & Orchids
Bougainville is a horticulture dream. There are so many flowers here including many orchid species endemic to Bougainville.
There is not much documentation here regarding floral species especially the orchids but I was told that prior to the Bougainville Crisis, there was a controversy regarding the illegal smuggling of orchids out of Bougainville to Australia and other countries.
I do believe the orchid industry in Bougainville should be developed and all the species of orchids and other unique flowers of this area should be properly catalogued.
Cultural Attractions & Events
The culture of Bougainville is an old and ancient one, very connected to a spiritual earth that nurtures them.
They often refer their land as the Holy Land (which means – in my understanding - Land that is Sacred and must be protected).
Women hold special and spiritual significance here with lineage* traced through the matrilineal clan system, where the clan is traced through the Chief Meri of the clan who is also the titleholder and custodian of the tribal land. (*Only in Buin is lineage and ownership through male descendants.)
This matrilineal culture is similar to other New Guinea Islands. They have many customs, cultures and practices, the best way to really understand this is to go there yourself and live in a village for a few days.
Their culture, which they believe held the province together during the hard years, is omnipresent in everything.
Bougainville Cultural Shows
The Reed Festival
Bougainville and Papua New Guinea Pioneer Actor and Director William Takaku in 2009 created the Bi-Annual Reed Festival, a cultural event for the Bougainvillean people to show their culture, beauty and diversity over several days through cultural dancing, songs, plays, drama and other traditional and creative arts.
The Reed Festival is staged in Arawa and performers come from all over Bougainville.
The festival provides the opportunity for young Bougainvilleans to learn about and partake in their own culture from the older generation.
One important part of the Reed Festival is the ‘Cool Culture’ component that incorporates cultural activities and displays by the local children.
I suggest that in order to get the full value of the Reed Festival, you travel early and organize a village stay.
The Mona Festival is held annually in Buka town to celebrate the seafaring tradition of Bougainvilleans.
It is staged on the 12 -14th of August every year and attracts cultural performers from all over the province.
The Mona Festival is sometimes referred to as the Canoe Festival.
The name ‘Mona’ actually refers to a large sea going canoe which was used in traditional times for the purpose of trade or to conduct lightning raids on other communities and islands in the Solomon Sea.
The Mona is not a ‘dugout’ canoe made out of hallowing out the trunk of large trees.
Instead the canoe is crafted out of hewn planks (using stone tools) of hard lightwood, expertly held together using special vines.
The Mona was made water tight using the sap from the seeds of a certain tree.
The canoes could hold up to 10 rowers and could move swiftly over water.
Manee Village Resource
This is a place that I recommend for the travelor to visit. It is in the hills of Kongara, just above Kieta.
A 45 minute PMV ride costing around K20 will get you there.
The Manee Resource Center is a brilliant project in the middle of the Kongara mountain forests being built for the preservation of certain old traditional knowledge of people in this area. It is entirely self funded.
Two brothers felt that the young people and the generations after them would forget their culture and the importance of the forests and jungles, so they have been building this place to preserve what could easily be lost.
Their work began in 2007 and their father using his knowledge and memories and that of the older generation constructed the special traditional houses that you will see there.
For more information on Cultural Bougainville, visit Bougainville Tourism website. H
Underwater World War II Sites
Underwater wrecks and more litter the seas of Bougainville. Please visit the Bougainville Tourism website and get intouch with them for more detailed information.
Japanese Admiral Yamamotos Plane Crash Site
About 25km north of Buin along the south of Bougainville lies the wreck of the Japanese Betty bomber which was intercepted and shot down by Allied Forces on 18th April 1943.
On board that plane was WWII’s most famous Japanese commander and mastermind of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.
He was on an inspection tour of forward positions in the Solomon Islands when his aircraft (a Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber) was shot down during an ambush by American P-38 Lightning fighter planes.
His death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II.
The site is covered in thick jungle and there are still some landowner issues, but if you arranged yourself early and got in touch with one of the local tour companies, they can get you there.
Torokina WWII Sites
Torokina, on the West Coast of Bougainville is the site of important invasions and land and sea battles between Allied and Japanese Forces.
You can find a lot of WWII relics here including unexploded ordinances.
There is an airstrip here and much of the road network built during WWII is still intact.
To learn more about the battles that happened around here this is a good place to start http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Torokina.
Torokina was also famous in pre-crisis days for the heavy surf that could be found there
To get to Torokina you can organize a charter boat in Buka.
This was a place that I really wanted to go to but ran out of time.
Little Tokyo is an underground military base that the Japanese Forces, who held Bougainville for much of World War II, wanted to resettle a larger number of civilian Japanese at.
According to the locals the big white bunkers are all now covered in very thick jungle and it looks like a place that time forgot.
Little Tokyo can be accessed via Buin. Get intouch with Bougainville Tourism for more information.
The large open pit mine at Panguna a few kilometers above Arawa was established in the early 1970s by Bougainville Copper Limited, a subsidiary of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto.
Though this was an important economic project, it created a clash in culture between the local population and the developers.
Disputes quickly arose over land ownership, financial benefits, the environmental impact, and social change brought by the mine.
In 1987, the locals began to use force to to get BCL and the the Government to meet their demands.
By 1989, talks broke down, the giant mine closed and there was severe fighting between the Papua New Guinea Security forces the now, Bougainville Revolutionary Army and other factions. I am not going into details about what happened next. If you want know more, just search for Bougainville Crisis on the internet.
All I can say is now there is peace and you can visit the old Panguna Town and the mine.
Before the crisis, the Panguna town supported 3,500 people, married and single that worked at the mine.
Facilities included supermarkets, post office, banks, schools, medical center, chemist, schools, cinemas, gymnasium and sports equipments, taverns and more.
Staff was housed in either the married quarters or the single quarters depending on their status The town had cinemas, stadiums, gyms, swimming pools and more.
Panguna is very quite place now with a lot of large ruined buildings and two lane paved roads with no cars and hardly any foot traffic.
You can climb apart to the hills to get a good view of the open pit mine or you can climb down into it if you want.
You need a local guide to get you there and there is accommodation available.
It’s K10 per person to catch the PMV at the Arawa Bus Stop to Panguna and it takes about 10 – 15 minutes to get there from Arawa. Visit www.myamazingparadise.com to see pictures of Panguna.
Arawa – Kieta Sites
In the early 1980’s, the town of Arawa on the southern side of the main Bougainville Island was one of the most developed towns in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.
Located on scenic Arawa Bay on the site of a large plantation, Arawa was established in the late 196Os as planned suburban town for the employees of the Bougainville Copper Ltd which was operating the large open copper, gold and silver open pit mine at Panguna.
When PNG became Independent in 1975, Arawa became the Administrative and Economic Provincial Capital of the North Solomon’s Province.
The town was developed to accommodate over 15,000 people who were either directly or indirectly employed by BCL, or by the Papua New Guinea and North Solomons Provincial Governments.
There were over 1850 houses in the town.
It boasted large shopping centers, banks, modern health facilities, dentistry, resorts, clubs, large well kept golf courses, sports fields with stadium lights and more.
It was a great place to live, work and play.
However, in 1988, the Bougainville Conflict erupted into full scale warfare and overnight thousands fled the town. For 10 – 15 years, it was a hot bed of fighting and only a few persons who were not PNG Soldiers, Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters or other factional fighters, ever ventured in there to see what happened to the town.
In 1997, the Bougainville Cease Fire was agreed to and all fighters and soldiers decided to return normalcy to Bougainville.
Though it took some more years, in the mid 2000’s more people began to venture into Arawa to see the town they once knew.
It was a traumatic experience for many, who had wonderful memories of the place.
A lot of people who related their stories to me told me how they cried when they first went back.
The beautiful Arawa town was now a jungle with ruined buildings.
A lot of people now have moved back and live at Arawa at some of the houses and they have turned the ruins into stores selling anything from clothe, beer, CD’s, store goods, traditional items and more.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government will be operating in the area soon with administrative staff headquarters being worked on at the old Provincial Headquarters there. Primary and High Schools are open, Telikom is providing excellent coverage there, PNG Power and the Department of Works are planning to move back to their old pre-crisis bases there and the Arawa Health Center are open.
The adjoining town of Kieta is mostly thought of as forming one entity with Arawa, which is sometimes caleld Arawa-Kieta.
How to Get To Arawa: You can catch a PMV at the Kokopau Bus Stop. Its costs K50 one way and it’s a 4hr drive to Arawa. If you would like to visit Arawa, Kieta, Panguna and see many sites, contact Zhon on Phone: +675 71626393 /+675 76263583 or email him
Buin is on the southern tip of the main island from where you can see the Solomon Islands.
There is not much information about Buin apart from the fact that you can access several interesting World War 2 sites here such as the Yamamoto Plane Wreck and Little Tokyo.
You can also travel across to the nearby Solomon Islands from here Its costs about K50 to catch a PMV from Arawa to Buin.
Loloho beach in Arawa was a popular swimming, rest & recreation spot for the residents of the town in pre-crisis days. It is a project earmarked for development by the Bougainville Tourism Office.
Numa Numa Trail
This is an arduous trail that stretches 62km from Numa Numa at Wakunai on the east coast of Bougainville, over the Crown Prince Range of Bougainville Island to Torokina on the west coast.
It is not was well developed and walked such as the Kokoda or the Black Cat trail and is covered in many places by jungle.
WWII relics litter the trail as it was used extensively by both the Allied Forces and the Japanese Army in the Battle for Empress Bay and Bougainville.
The locals are keen on re-opening it.
I was notified of surf spots along the Buin Coast and the reefs around Arawa and Kieta. Torokina was famous as a surfing spot before the Bougainville Crisis and there are more spots along the west coast of the main island. Get intouch with Bougainville Tourism to learn more.
Solomon Islands Border Crossings
If you would like to head over to the Solomon Islands, you can head down to Buin on the south of Bougainville and catch a water taxi for about K20 across to the Shortland Islands.
You can then island hop and end up in Honiara very quickly.
However, please note that this border crossing is not encouraged by authorities.
Bougainvilleans are very spiritual people who believe in the connection between their souls and their land.
There are many sacred sites in Buka Island and the main Bougainville Island.
In Arawa-Kieta, with the assistance and permission of the locals, you can be taken to visit such local sites and have the spiritual significance explained to you.
But you must first ask if this is possible and you should respect all customs.
The first port of call when you arrive in Bougainville is Buka Town, the administrative capital of the province.
As previously explained, it replaced Arawa as the capital during the Bougainville Crisis.
The town itself quite small, yet full of buildings built close together.
You can walk around the whole town in less than an hour and there are ‘shortcuts’ everywhere.
There is the BSP Bank Service & ATM Machine here, Air Nuigini Office, PNG Power, Pharmacies, Restaurants, Bars, Hotels and more.
If you want to head over to the main island and the transit town of Kokopau, you can just head down to the main market and bus stop and catch the water taxi across the Buka Passage for K2.00.
You can also arrange charters here. For more information visit the Bougainville Tourism Website.
This is the launching point into Bougainville, for those arriving from Buka.
Located across the Buka passage from Buka town, Kokopau is a transit hub that connects the administration center of Buka to the rest of the main island.
The road out of Kokopau will take you southwards for a few hours, passing through old plantations, villages, dense jungles, up and down hills and mountains and along the coastline before you arrive at Arawa.
Diving & Snorkeling
There is no diving operation out here, but with the abundance of reefs, diverse marine life and under water wrecks, its only a matter of time.
Many people who have dived here report that it is one of the best in the world.
Cycling in Bougainville
For the adventurous cycler, the roads in Bougainville and Buka Island are in great condition for cycling. They are mixture of crushed and compacted coral in some places and bitumen in others.
You could cycle around the whole Buka Island in under a day and you could cycle from Kokopau to Arawa between 2 - 3 days, setting up overnight camps in the villages etc.
You would have to bring your own bicycle or by one from the local stores as there are no cycles for hire here.
When I was in Arawa, I stayed at a nice little village called Pidia. A Village stay is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of Bougainville and meet the people, as well as see some great sites.
Bougainville Experience Tours helped me out here. This is their website and Zhon is the contact. You can also visit the Bougainville Tourism website for more information.
Travel To and Around Bougainville
Air Nugini has around four flights a week from Port Moresby to Buka Island. The flights will either go directly to Buka Island or will stop over at East New Britain and sometimes you will have to change planes for the flight to Buka. You can book flights online at the Air Nuigini website.
Air Nuigini’s larger planes sometimes face refuel issues in Buka because the airport there has no capacity to store large amounts of fuel. Sometimes, flights are cancelled or smaller planes are used because of this issue.
Air Nuigini does not fly anywhere else in Bougainville.
Recently, the Chinese Government has donated a small plane to the Bougainville people. This plane will service routes and small airstrips within the island province.
They have not set rates yet or schedules yet, but this should make travelling to remote locations such as Nissan Island easier.
The main mode of travel in this province is by boats. You can catch a ship to Buka from Rabaul. You can’t make bookings over the phone or internet, you just have to turn up at Rabaul and join the passengers waiting. It’s just over K100 for a ticket.
In Buka and Kokopau and other places, you can catch water taxi’s, these are fiberglass banana boats with outboard motors.
To go from Buka Town across to Kokopau Town or across to Suhano Island it is K2 per person one way.
The Water Taxis also head out for Torokina and other destinations from Buka Town.
The rates vary so you would have to enquire with the ‘captains’ of these water taxis.
Ships also travel to the outer islands once a month, you just have to enquire in Buka Town or visit the Bougainville Tourism website for more information.
The roads in Bougainville are great for 4wd vehicles. You can get a hire car to travel in Buka Island or to travel across the south of the main Bougainville Island, The rates are K800+ per day. See the Bougainville Tourism website for more information in Hire Cars.
PMVs operate in Buka Town.
The bus fare is K2 per person in Buka town routes. PMV’s also operate along the ring roads straight to the villages. You catch the PMV’s at the main market.
To travel from Kokopau to Arawa on the Bougainville Island, you can catch a PMV, most of which are Toyota 4 x 4 Landcrusiers. Its costs K50 and the travel will take around 4hrs.
Keita costs K2.00 on a PMV from Arawa. If you want to travel all the way to Buin, it will cost around K50 on a PMV (a landcruiser or an open back truck).
PMV’s also operate up to Panguna. It costs K10 per person one way. To get into the bush and villages around Arawa, you can catch the local PMVs in town, just ask around and don’t forget to go with a local.
As more of the island opens up, expect travelling to be much easier. For more information visit the Bougainville Tourism website.
There is accommodation available in Buka, Arawa, Buin, Panguna. These accommodation include village stays. To see a comprehensive list visit the Bougainville Tourism website.
Safety & Security
Always Have a Guide or a local with you.
This is something that many visitors to PNG don’t seem to understand. It is important to have a local guide with you in Papua New Guinea.
The idea that natives own the land and have a spiritual connection to it is a cultural phenomena that’s alien to many visitors to PNG. No text book study can really prepare anyone for the reality of land ownership in Melanesia. If a landowner seems a total stranger wandering around his or her land, immediately they get suspicious and hostile.
Countless ‘first contact’ stories illustrate this point.
Natives often attacked many of the explorers to PNG, mainly because the explorers were wondering onto their land without authority or permission. Bougainville is no different.
You cannot go to Bougainville and wander around without some sort of guide or locals to assist you.
But in Bougainville there is also another factor – the Bougainville Crisis.
One of the most well documents facts about the cause of the crisis was the local’s animosity towards developers for ‘taking’ their land and abusing their spiritual sites.
Today, many Bougainvilleans, especially in Arawa, Kieta, Panguna, Buin are suspicious of outsiders and outside influences.
If you are found wandering around by yourself, on land that doesn’t belong to you, you may find yourself in a situation that can turn bad very quickly.
Remember many ex-militants have not handed over their guns yet.
If you want to travel to Bougainville for tourism please visit get intouch with Bougainville Tourism to organize a tourism operator to assist you.
Respect Their Hospitality
Bougainvilleans have a custom of making sure that their guest is safe. They will go out of their way to make sure that you are okay.
It is important that you also respect them by not putting them in an ackward position by being dishonest about your intentions in Bougainville and that you do not start heated arguments in public with other locals.
Respect Sacred Sites
The Bougainvilleans have many sacred sites. Pay attention to your guides if they point out sacred sites and ask them what the local customs are regarding these sacred sites.
Don’t Discuss Politics
If you are not from Bougainville, it would do you well not to discuss local politics.
Respect the Morgan Junction and the No Go Zone
This place was central to the crisis and the barriers are still up, though traffic flows easily to and from.
If you want to travel to Panguna, you have to go through the No Go Zone barriers.
Plan in advance with your local guide and you will get up there okay.
Malaria has killed a lot of people in Bougainville over many decades. Make sure you are on anti-malarial treatment and you have medication.
Bring anti-biotic and a first aid kit with you when travelling through Bougainville. All cuts and abrasions should be treated and covered as soon as possible. Tropical ulcers can start quickly here.
Salt Water Crocodiles
Be wary of salt water crocodiles when wandering through or near rivers and lagoons along the coast lines.
If you are paddling at night, I was told you must slap the sides of the canoes to ward the dugongs away. These harmless creatures can easily spill the canoe and put you in water at night.
Final Words That’s it folks. I hope you can go to Bougainville and have a great experience.
You can see what i did here at www.myamazingparadise.com