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The island province of New Ireland in the far north of Papua New Guinea is a two-hour flight from Port Moresby. From the provincial capital of Kavieng where you land, it is a ten minute drive and a further 20-minutes by speedboat to the private island retreat that is Lissenung Island Resort; a small and intimate island resort surrounded by beautiful white sand and turquoise blue seas.
New Ireland is a far flung part of the country and despite the short transfer from the airport; the main attraction of the Lissenung Island Resort is the remoteness of it. Once there you really do feel that you have escaped.
By Papua New Guinean standards this is a high quality resort but it is not luxurious. Instead it is a simple, rustic and intimate island resort and offers the best base from which to dive the waters around this part of New Ireland.
The resort is run by the charming couple Dietmar and Ange. You will have plenty of time to get to know them as they eat dinner with the guests each night; this is part of the charm of the place; Lissenung feels less like a resort and more like a home which you are invited to share, along with the three dogs: Missy, Chivas and Sooty. This homely, intimate feel won't be to everyone's tastes but we found it refreshing and ultimately very relaxing.
With only seven rooms, all in raised bungalows just steps from the blue sea, this really is a tiny castaway island where you can often find yourselves to be the only guests there (indeed, if there are a group of you it would be worth considering hiring the whole island privately). All but a couple of the rooms have en-suite bathrooms, a fan and balcony. They are certainly not luxurious but they are comfortable, clean and homely. A lack of windows (just mosquito netting) means you are lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean each night.
When it comes to eating, all meals are taken communally around a long table. Breakfast is simple cereals, fruit and eggs cooked to your liking while lunch and dinner are a set main course and desert in the evenings. The food is simple, lovingly prepared and surprisingly good.
Diving is the main activity here and the reason that most people visit the Lissenung Island Resort. These waters are famed for the current and big pelagics that come with it. The place used to be overrun with sharks but dubious finning practices have reduced numbers significantly. However, since this practice was stopped, the sharks have been returning and on some dives it is now not uncommon to see up to 20 reef sharks (grey reef, white and black tip) on a single dive. However, it's not just the big stuff that draws people here as the macro life is also superb. You will see large numbers of nudibranchs (always a favourite), leaf scorpionfish, mandarin fish, ghost pipefish and all manner of other interesting critters. You could easily dive here for a week without getting bored.
Away from the diving, activities are somewhat limited at Kavieng. The island is tiny but you can go out fishing on their new boat (a small boat with an impossibly large engine - the 'fastest boat in the country' as Dietmar puts it), you can visit the local island to see the village and school and a singsing with the local kids is not to be missed. Apart from that it is a case of complete rest and relaxation on this pretty little tropical island.
You eat dinner with the other guests round a long table, with the sand between your toes. The owners Dietmar and Ange often join guests for dinner (sometimes with their dogs!).
Neill, Original Diver
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Neill is our 'Lissenung Island Resort' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.