Far from the violence of PNG's capital, Port Moresby, it is no suprise that this laid-back little town to the east of PNG has resisted construction of a highway from the nation's capital. A relaxed and easy-going place on the edge of Milne Bay, Alotau is also a gateway to some of the most fascinating and unspoilt islands in the world.
By coastal freighter. It may be possible to reach Alotau from Port Moresby or Lae by cargo freighter. There is no passenger-only shipping. Ask around at Port Moresby or Lae harbors, and be prepared for a long wait!
Walk!. Alotau is not very large and the people are very friendly, so walking will give you a good chance to meet them. The local word for foreigner is DimDim, so if you hear children calling that after you it does not mean they think you are stupid!
Well, chew to be precise. The people of Alotau and Milne Bay province are major consumers of the betel nut, chewed in a mixture with lime. When expectorated, it leaves red marks all over the ground. Long-term consumption is said to cause mouth cancer, but the occasional chew will cause you no problem and may give you a slight high.
There is good fresh food most of the week, except Saturday afternoon and Sunday at the Alotau market in town toward the water. Great bananas, sweet potatoes, yams, greens, green beans and all sorts of seafood, including crabs.
Grocery stores often have in-store fast food and there is a really good, value restaurant in town as well, something like the Kai House.
Alotau International Hotel, ☎ +675.641.0300 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +675.641.0268), . 22 rooms with panoramic views of the Bay.edit
Driftwood Resort, ☎ +675 641 0098 (email@example.com), . Seven bungalows on the edge of the Bay a few minutes from Alotau.K300 per bungalow. edit
Bibiko Farm, Charles Abel Highway (8km from airport), . Bungalow village accommodation. Live with the Mataios, a lovely family. Food included, many tours of Milne Bay Province available on request.60 PGK. edit
Napatana Ecotourism Lodge, . Five bungalows and some twin "Flashpacker" rooms, close to the Bayedit
Masurino Lodge, . Run by a family descended from a 19th Century English missionary, the Lodge offers 24 Standard Rooms and 12 Executive Rooms, as well as some family units. edit
Ulumani - Treetops Rainforest lodge. Owned and operated by the traditional landowners of the area. Includes comfortable units and a dormitory for backpackers. In the heart of the rainforest on the Southern arm of Milne Bay, about one hour's drive from Alotau. edit
Doini Island Plantation resort, (Just off the southeastern tip of the mainland, about one hour by boat from Alotau.), . 1100 hectares of coconut palms and rainforest, surrounded by white sandy beaches and turqoise waters, with a nine-hole golf course. Bungalows are right on the sea, and there is a shared guest house that provides inexpensive accommodation.edit
Trobriand Islands. The "Islands of Love" according to anthropologist Malinowski. Remote islands, nice beaches, and an idiosyncratic version of cricket.
Samarai. A short boat ride from Alotau. Former capital of Milne Bay province. 20 minutes to walk round the island, with a few memories of its former importance.
Fergusson Island. A geothermal island. Good bird watching with a rare species of Bird of Paradise and the Curl Crested Manucode. Can only be reached by boat.
Goodenough Island and Normanby Island. Totally unspoilt islands for exploring, bird watching, etc. Very limited accommodation.
Misima Island. With 5000 people, the most populated and most accessible island of the Louisiade Archipelago. Briefly flirted with a change of lifestyle when a gold mine was opened in 1990, but that closed in 2004.
Samarai. This small island, at the entrance to Milne Bay, was a boom town in the 19th Century, with up to five hotels to accommodate gold prospectors on their way to and from the Milne Bay islands. Little is now left of this prosperity but it is still a fascinating place to visit.