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Tawali Resort- The Adventure of Getting to the Middle of Nowhere

By Erin Boyajian

 Before I went to Tawali Resort, I had heard three things about it- that it was  far away, remote, and had a reputation for pristine diving. All three turned out to be true.

Located in the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, Tawali is situated on the easternmost coast of Milne Bay. To get there is a journey in and of itself, and that journey is quite an adventure.
When I began to plan my trip from New York, I knew that it was going to be a long trip.   Air Nuigini is the carrier to use to fly into Port Moresby, the capital city. Do not call them directly- it is an expensive, tedious process that will go nowhere. The best way to go if you live in the US is  South Pacific Island Travel.  They are efficient and knowledgeable- this is essential when dealing with a country that lacks much infrastructure. Their rates were also better than Air Nuigini quoted me directly. They can make trip itineraries, hotel reservations and more, which takes the headaches out of it completely.
One can travel directly to Tawali in one go- this means traveling to an Asian or Australian city where you can connect with Air Nuigini, then fly into Port Moresby, followed by another short flight to Alotoau, (the center of operations for the Milne Bay area), then a bus to a boat. From the Eastern US, I am told this takes about twenty four hours, give or take. I decided to break up the journey, spending three days in Tokyo before boarding a flight to Port Moresby. If time permits, I highly recommend doing this. When adjusted to the time difference, you are far more alert and excited for each adventure along the way. Once I flew in to Port Moresby, I took the short flight to Alotau and stayed two days there. This allowed further time to acclimate to Papua New Guinea, its countryside and culture.
I loved the bus ride to the boat. The bus picked us up at the hotel, and we traveled a tree-lined coastline with clear views of the bay and mountains on the other side. You can see a variety of homes, which become more rustic as you leave the center of town. 
We drove through a marketplace with local produce, baked goods, and warm, friendly people happy to show you their wares. I tried sago bread, made from flour culled from the sago tree. Not only was it simple, filling beyond compare and delicious, but the people in the market were thrilled that I was interested in trying one of their traditional staple foods.
I enjoyed trying the edible stalk of a wild cane called pit-pit, pronounced “peet-peet”, with a very subtle “t” sound at the end   I could not understand what it was called and kept repeating “pee-pee”. The villagers hooted and fell down laughing, as one grandmother came up with a mighty gaffaw and slapped me on the back.
 We enjoyed a lot more laughs together before boarding the bus and continuing on our trip. We drove in late afternoon, and as we arrived at the boat, the sun was just beginning to set. The scene was magical- crystal clear, water as smooth as glass, with  vast,  mountainous expanses that were unspoiled- no buildings or lights;the land in every direction was pristine with nothing but the green of wild plants and trees. 
The boat ride was peaceful, and as we turned several bends, the light from the late afternoon sun set the landscape aglow with rich orange, pink, and amber hues. In a short time a dock, and stairway came into view.  Tawali began to reveal itself amidst the landscape. Built on a hill on the bay, the resort  is situated in lush greenery.   Before I started walking up the stairs, I took a moment to look around and fully take in my surroundings, and enjoyed the silence. There was nothing audible but nature- birds in flight and an occasional splash from a fish jumping.   Although I was excited to see more of Tawali,   I was soothed and grateful for its beauty  from the moment of arrival.
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