Conflict Islands, Papua New Guinea cruises

This dusting of 21 islands is found off the east coast of Papua New Guinea, bearing a name at odds with the sense of serenity and relaxation that accompanies their stunning natural beauty.

While we often talk about the beautiful islands in this part of the world being pristine or untouched, the Conflict Islands really do live up to that description. Apart from any other reason, there’s simply not a huge amount there, in a manmade sense at least, and they’re so remote that the only way most of us would ever arrive there is by ship.

Even though they fall within the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, the islands are about 80 miles from the main island of New Guinea itself, and only around 30 people live there permanently.

The small, privately owned islands are actually part of an atoll, and are set in azure waters surrounding an enclosed electric blue lagoon. They’re also part of a conservation effort to protect them. Just as an aside, it was actually a ship that gave the islands their name after The Conflict, a survey ship, first charted the waters in 1886; the only semblance of actual conflict here has been the introduction of measures to protect the likes of green turtles and sea cucumbers from illegal poaching.

This call truly is off the beaten track, a fact reflected in scenery that defines the sense of far-flung paradise. Many of the islands are cloaked in thick green vegetation, which provides shelter for tree kangaroos and many bird species.

And although sugar soft beaches are waiting to tempt you, nature’s real bounty lies beneath the sea’s surface. After all, here you’ll find a reef system that hosts an incredibly diversity of marine life, comprised of more than 400 coral species that have been recorded here. No wonder it’s been ranked among the best dive spots anywhere on earth. Around 1,000 fish species are found shimmering and flitting through this ecosystem, including some that exist nowhere else, and manta rays and orcas are among the larger visitors during their migration.

So we definitely recommend bringing a mask and snorkel at least. But even if you explore by kayak, glass-bottomed boat, stand-up paddleboard or traditional outrigger canoe, you can still expect to see colorful comings and goings in the crystal clear waters below.