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by Nina Joost, March 09

Lissenung Island, KaviengAnge and Dietmar, the owners of Lissenung Island, have come a long way since they first set up their little Robinson island in the mid 1990s. The rough edges have been ‘filed away’, and without changing the lovely and unpretentious setting of this quiet and remote island, they have made considerable improvements to the accommodations and facilities.

Bungalow on LissenungAlmost all of the
7 rooms in 4 bungalows now feature spotlessly clean, modern ensuite bathrooms, spacious covered verandahs (some with daybeds), gleaming wooden floors and the intricate woodwork the Kavieng region is famous for. Sandy pathways, fringed by fragrant floral plants and tropical shrubs, meander between all bungalows and beach facilities. At night tiki lights lead the way to the main house, which was designed to let nature in, with a sandy floor, handcrafted furniture and comfortable lounges and beautifully decorated with masks and other local artwork. This is where everyone comes together a few times a day for lovingly prepared meals, games and stories or a quiet afternoon with a good book.

Next door and adjacent to the dive shed is the newly-built, spacious and airconditioned office with separate desks for guests who would like to send emails or digitalise their photographs. Lissenung Island has a soft pink sand lissenung2beach, which is extremely rare in PNG; the perfect place for happy hour drinks as the sun goes down. Just a few fin kicks away is the very entertaining house reef, bustling with activity and with a surprising number of inhabitants – we counted 6 different species of clown fish, colourful staghorn, plate and brain coral, multi-coloured nudibranchs and schools of trevally and snappers gathering at dusk to start hunting soon.

The house reef is about 10 metres deep, and it will take quite a few days to explore in its entirety. Lissenung Island is surrounded by many other low tropical islands, which channel the waterways between Pacific ocean and Bismarck Sea. Medium to strong currents are common and often unpredictable, which is good news for alissenung_boatsny diver interested in drift diving and pelagics, but there are always calm spots to be found as well. This dive region has everything: year-round warm water in all shades from turquoise to purple (at least 29C/90F or more) , massive coral walls for drift diving or leisurely exploration when the currents don’t run, shallow and sandy spots near the islands for critter-spotting and muck diving, and quite a few WWII wreck dives, mostly small planes.

With more than 50 world-class dive sites, you would need at least 3 visits to Lissenung Island to experience them all. Three fast and well-equipped dive boats are waiting for divers and snorkellers each morning, keeping the groups small at all times, and multi-lingual PADI dive instructors take care of beginner divers and students.

lissenung033parrotNearby Kavieng, the main town of New Ireland province, is a remote area even by PNG standards. Supply ships arrive irregularly, and produce we all take for granted at our local supermarkets may be scarce for months at a time. Under these difficult circumstances the inventive menus prepared in the Lissenung kitchen deserve high praise indeed, as does their little herb and vegetable patch. Fish, lobster, crayfish and chicken feature quite often, and vegetarian versions may also be ordered at any time, though meat and milk products are always difficult to find in this part of the world.

Two generators supply Lissenung Island with 24 hour electricity, but it must be mentioned that there are no water heaters on the island; fresh water is heated by the sun in large tanks, which means showers are lukewarm only. However, due to the hot climate and the warm ocean temperatures, this fact is usually forgotten very quickly or goes completely unnoticed. Life on Lissenung Island is deceptively simple but never dull, and each guest is well looked after at all times.

lissenungsunsetThis is the perfect place to unwind from stressful city life and stay close to nature, listening to the birds in the trees and the waves lapping on the beach, where carefree hours of leisure between dives tick by just a little more slowly than everywhere else. Excursions to neighbouring islands and village visit are easily arranged. With a maximum of only 14 divers and snorkellers Lissenung is often booked out by families or friends travelling together and thus enjoying their own private island, and even fully booked this island will never feel crowded.

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