Kayaking in Papua New Guinea: adventures in paradise

The Tigak archipelago stretches into the Pacific off the east of Papua New Guinea, all the way to a tiny island inhabited by a happy couple only too glad of its ghostly reputation

Starlight was skittering across the waves and a few giant fruit bats were heading towards the middle of the island. Moses and Tony, my local guides, looked at me expectantly. I had to decide where to go. I resisted the desire to say: “Let’s just stay here. I can snorkel the reef and photograph the hummingbirds at my hut window.” Why go anywhere? I had travelled to the other side of the globe, to the remotest spot imaginable, and now, having arrived in darkness at a surprisingly comfortable backcountry surfer retreat, I was planning to leave at dawn.

I shone the torch on the map. Maps are the root of all restlessness, if you ask me, especially when you have a blue sea spangled with constellations of islands, reefs and wrecks, plus a pair of kayaks waiting on the beach. On that map, Papua New Guinea looked like a giant warthog charging towards the Pacific, tossing bones ahead of it. One of those bones, 600 miles east of the warthog’s snout, is New Ireland. With a battered index finger, Moses pointed out Nusa Island, a tiny atoll off its northern tip. “That’s where we are now.”

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