Madang is a coastal region to the North East of Papua New Guinea. Like most places in PNG trying to find good, reliable, honest information is pretty tricky. As I have been living in the lovely M-town, which punches out from the land like a fist into the ocean, I thought I would make a few suggestions of things to do and places to eat. You can see the sea from most vantage points; as such most activities involve being on, in, or under the water!
Things to do:
When you are surrounded by sol wara (the sea) on pretty much all sides the best things to do definitely involve getting out on the ocean! A morning kayaking is a great starting point and Madang is the perfect place to do it with islands dotted close to the mainland. You can rent single and double kayaks from Madang Resort for around K20 (£5). It is good to go as a group and mornings tend to be best as the wind picks up in the afternoon making the sea much rougher. This is a great weekend activity that can take you to some of the beautiful snorkeling spots close by. From the resort you can paddle out in pretty calm waters to Krankit island where there is a beautiful still lagoon which has glass like water and some of the most large and abundant hard and soft coral I have seen anywhere in the world. To the North of Madang there is a range of beautiful islands to paddle past, wave at the children playing in the sea and find an uninhabited piece of paradise, home to palm trees alone, to relax at or snorkel off.
There are lots of beautiful places to visit if you have access to a boat. If you know someone with a boat then you are definitely onto a winner but if you don’t you have two options. The cheapest option is to head down to Krankit port and negotiate with a local boat owner for half a day. This will cost around K100 (£25) for half a day – make sure the boat stays with you as you don’t want to get stranded somewhere! The expensive option is to arrange a trip with Madang Resort. This will cost around K100 per person (£25), quite a considerable difference. Although it’s a little pricey it certainly gives you a great opportunity to explore Madang’s underwater wonderland. Out at sea good places to head to are Pig island for spectacular snorkelling and Wonkit island but whether you are looking to explore the deep or catch some fish, it certainly is a good way to while away some time.
Ohu butterfly habitat
From Madang, this trip really needs a private vehicle. If you can arrange a ride, the butterfly farm is around 15km out of town, heading towards Ramu. The journey to the habitat takes you through some really picturesque villages built in a traditional bush material style with sculpted gardens. Like a lot of ‘tourist’ activities in PNG the butterfly habitat is really like taking a wader around someone’s back garden, admittedly this garden is dense bush! Don’t let this put you off though, for a small fee you can safely wander into the jungle and see butterflies disguised in the foliage. It may not wow you but it is nice to have the freedom of walking safely in the thick jungle.
Balek wildlife sanctuary
Like with many of the adventures in PNG, Balek wildlife sanctuary isn’t sign posted, isn’t really publicised and again is like having special access to someone’s garden. Again you will need a private vehicle to take you to the sanctuary and if you are driving there you will need to head towards Ramu, go past the market and you’ll know you have arrived when you can smell the sulphur (these are seriously the directions that I was given when I went there!) You will probably drive past it at lease once (in our case five times!) but when you arrive it is a lovely spot with eels and small turtles. The sulphur creek flows from a huge limestone formation and the landowner will tell you all about the flora and fauna in the area. You might be lucky to end the trip with fresh watermelon or mango!
Located twenty minutes out of town along the North Coast road, Jais Aben is a pleasant spot to get lunch and have a swim and snorkel. It is a little touristy but it is a safe weekend hang out with good burgers and friendly service.
DWU cultural show
The highlight of the Madang calendar for any visitor, the DWU cultural show is an amazing opportunity to experience PNG’s incredible diversity. Usually at the end of August, don’t believe the timetable, arrive an hour later than it is scheduled to start! Take an umbrella, a hat, wear plenty of sunscreen as there are very few places to get shade and be prepared to leave at around 2pm as afternoons can get a little boisterous at the weekend. What you will experience will blow your mind, students from Provinces all around PNG dressed in their bilas (traditional dress) singing, chanting, dancing and playing music from their region. There is a showground in the centre of the festival site where each group has a slot to show their traditional performance but from my experience the real magic happens outside the performance area where all the dancers are practicing and psyching themselves up. Be prepared to be transported to a place that you never normally have access to, it can be emotional!
Places to eat:
Located on the coast road with a lovely breezy, balcony style restaurant is ‘Coasties’. Famed for having the biggest and best pizzas in town, Coastwatchers also has some great main courses including pork belly and fresh seafood, as well as being the best place to get desserts and cakes.
Another picturesque place to fill yourself up, the Resort restaurant looks out across towards Krankit island and you can gaze out to sea watching the boats zip across the water, full to the brim with passengers. There are lots of fulfilling options on the lunch time menu and the evening menu offers a wealth of tasty choices.
A lovely lunchtime spot or place to grab a sunset drink! With a panoramic view out to sea and a lovely breeze most evenings, Madang Lodge is a nice place to grab a light bite and enjoy the view. Food sometimes requires a bit of patience but the staff, particularly Gina and Shirley are a pleasure.
Madang Fishing Club
The Fishing Club boasts being the no.1 club in the Pacific which may be a slight exaggeration but is the best place to see the sunset and eat burgers (if they haven’t run out of beef, chicken or eggs!) Wednesday nights is burger night but there are often other foodie nights held at the club. You can also grab Chinese from the adjoining restaurant if you don’t fancy fried delights.
THE place to get Chinese in M-town, Eden is located just next door to Madang Country Club. Full to bursting on a Friday night, Eden offers a scrumptious sizzling tofu dish, beautifully steamed broccoli and yummy seafood and fish dishes to name just a few! The challenge is not to order too much!
Just outside Madang:
Tupira Surf Club
If you want a weekend escape then this is the place to go! Tupira Surf Club is a two-hour drive along the north coast road. As the scenery changes from thick bush to rolling, lime green hillside you know you are getting close. This beautiful, peaceful, haven is a great spot for surfing (peak Nov-April) but it is also an exquisite place to come for some R&R. Relax in a hammock, drink a cold SP while watching the sunset or come with a group for fun and frolics.
There are two types of accommodation, two stand alone, premium bungalows with shared bathroom, both with balcony, these cost around K250 (£60) p/p p/n. The main house sleeps 12 people in shared rooms with shared bathrooms, around K200 (£50). All rooms have mosquito nets but definitely bring repellent and coils for sunset. All prices include a yummy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Staff are all lovely and there are boards and other things to keep you occupied if you want to be active during the day.
Contact Nicholas Kirriwom for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org