Kiriwina Island is located in Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay Province. It is the largest and by far the most populated of the Trobriand islands and home to a largely unspoiled island culture. The first thing you will notice on arrival is the crystal-clear water and jungle clad cliffs. With a beautiful beach and hundreds of locals gathering to greet the ship, it makes for an amazing cultural experience and provides a unique insight into an island culture where the humble yam is like gold. Here are some tips for visiting Kiriwina Island when you arrive on a cruise ship.
What to bring to Kiriwina
Wear a hat and sunscreen and light clothing as it is always hot and always humid. Bring water ashore with you, ideally in a reusable bottle, as plastics are discouraged due to the environmental risks in such a pristine environment. If you would like to go snorkelling, you will need to bring your own gear as there nowhere to hire it. Try to have some Kina with you as exchanging Australian dollars is expensive for the islanders.
The locals are some of the friendliest people on the planet so smile, be friendly and enjoy their culture. There are guides available to welcome you to the village and show you their unique island culture. A guide costs about 20 Kina which is about AU$8 so tours are affordable. A highlight of the tour is the chance to see the yam huts which act like banks (yams are very, very valuable on Kiriwina), the skull cave and the school house. If you wish to donate something to the village, fishing lines, hooks, and school supplies are all greatly appreciated.
With all that heat and humidity, diving into the crystal-clear water is a must. If you ask the locals, they will tell you the best places to snorkel and swim depending on the tide. Another great thing to do is hire a dugout canoe and go for a ride. This supports the locals and is a great adventure but be prepared to get wet as they can be a bit unstable for Westerners who aren’t accustomed to getting around in a canoe. One thing to be aware of is the coral which surrounds the island. It is very delicate and easily damaged so look but don’t touch. If you do get a coral cut, make sure you get it cleaned and treated at the onshore medical tent. This is free and will stop the cut getting infected.
Don’t buy coral or shells
While you will probably see beautiful shells and coral for sale, harvesting these damages the local reefs. Don’t perpetuate the problem by purchasing these items. Instead support the locals by buying the carved wooden artworks for which the islands are famous. The craftsmanship is stunning and the environment will thank you.
Watch the cricket at Kiriwina
Cricket a big thing on Kiriwina although it is a bit different to the game we play back home. Expect lots of cheering, singing, dancing, yelling and loads of people on the field at any one time. Even if, like me, you aren’t a big cricket fan, this is one sporting match you don’t want to miss!
Disclosure: The writer travelled to Kiriwina at her own expense.