Conflict Islands (Panawal Group), Papua New Guinea
In Partnership With
Papua New Guinea is quickly becoming a favorite destination for cruise passengers, and it’s easy to see why when you visit the Conflict Islands. Although the name might not sound inviting (don’t worry, they're named after a British naval ship, not a war), these 21 islands are like paradise on earth: Tropical islets encircle an enormous turquoise lagoon formed by the rim of a sunken volcano, with vibrant coral reefs and rainbow schools of fish below the water. Located about 160 kilometers (97 miles) east of Papua New Guinea in the Coral Sea, the island group is owned by Australian businessman and conservationist Ian Gowrie-Smith, who is dedicated to protecting the ecosystem of the islands (he has an eco-resort on one island; the rest are uninhabited).Just as Papua New Guinea is one of the wildest and most diverse places on the planet, the seas here offer some of the world’s most extensive biodiversity and coral reefs, making for unparalleled kayaking, diving and snorkeling. There are hundreds of coral species and thousands of species of fish and invertebrates such as the sea cucumber. If you ever get bored with watching manta rays float past, lie back on the white sand, look up at the palm trees blowing in warm trade winds or watch the sun set over the lagoon, and dream of owning your own chain of tropical islands.