Rabaul in Papua New Guinea was our next port of call on the world cruise. My tour of Rabaul was very interesting seeing volcanoes and visiting a volcanological observatory. Visiting a coconut oil factory and seeing a World War II bunker and learning about the local culture.
If you like it hot this is the place for you! It never cools down and every month it is over 30*C. I thought I was going to melt, but I had a great day visiting the area.
The people were so friendly and the children were consistently saying hello, hello, hello! It was very nice and refreshing, as we all know that does not happen everywhere in the world.
Only eight cruise ships a year go to Rabaul and tourism has not really recovered from 1994, when the last volcano eruption happened. It was once a popular scuba diving spot.
Rabaul is made up of many volcanoes that overlie or overlap each other and Rabaul is referred to by volcanologists as a volcanic complex, which means its structure is complicated.
In 1937, Rabaul was destroyed by two volcano eruptions. Tavurvur and Vulcan erupted and killed 507 people.
In 1994 the same volcanoes erupted and devastated the town again, destroying the airport and covering most of the town with heavy ash fall. Only 5 people were killed as the town had been ready to evacuation since 1983 as this was when the volcanoes started to heat up.
The 1994 eruption can still be seen all around Rabaul, as there is ash all over the place. We were taken to the bubbling beach where you could see the volcano Tavurvur and there was volcanic ash everywhere not sand.
This was also where the airport was before the last eruption. It has now been rebuilt 50km further away.
The bubbling beach is a natural hot spring heated by an underwater volcanic vent. Our tour guide told me the local people boil eggs in the hot spring for 2 minutes! The bubbling beach was a small area of boiling hot water bubbling away with steam coming off.
We visited the Volcanological Observatory that closely monitors 14 active volcanoes and 23 dormant volcanoes. It was full of computers monitoring the volcanoes and other measuring devices.
The view outside of the observatory was beautiful as we were high on the mountain overlooking Simpson Harbour. We could see the ship docked and the volcanoes in the distance smoking away.
During World War II the Japanese took control of Rabaul and it became the main base of the Japanese military and navy activity in the South Pacific.
While we were there we saw a bunker, the ‘Ratshole’ which was a tunnel built by the Japanese, a gunner and the wreck of a Japanese aeroplane that had crashed during the war.
We visited a coconut oil factory this was quite a new business in Rabaul. They only produce for Papua New Guinea currently, but they are about to start exporting internationally soon.
It was interesting to see how they get the oil from the coconut. There are a lot of coconuts in Rabaul, so a good business to start.
The people were very friendly, they don’t have much but they are very happy. Most of the people had blond hair and black skin and a lot of them had red mouths because they chew red beetles! Our guide told us it is an aphrodisiac!
They have shell money that is called cowrie shells that they put on a string. They use this shell money to buy within their community. They also have a real currency too, to buy things outside of the community.
I found Rabaul very interesting, it is amazing how people survive with very little, but they are probably the happiest people I have seen.
We get so caught up with having the latest phone, buying the latest fashions, eating what is in or healthy this year and we are not always happy.
Sometimes if you do not have much and you do not know what is available you are a lot happier as you just enjoy life for what it is.
What to Wear
It is very hot and humid, so I recommend you wear loose comfortable clothing, flat shoes, a hat and sunglasses.
It is very hot so wear a high sun factor to protect your skin and cover yourself with insect repellent as it is s Zika virus zone.
- Weather: Humid, year-round 30*C
- Language: Hiri Motu, Hiri Motu and English
- Currency: Papua New Guinean Kina/ US Dollars are accepted
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Have you been to Rabual? What would you recommend doing?
Love Lucy x
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