Southern Coast of New Britain: The Secret Place in Papua New Guinea

Text and photos by Don Silcock

The southern coast of the large island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea is a truly remote location isolated from the northern coast by high, rugged mountain ranges with no real roads through them. There are no commercial airports here—only landing strips and old WWII airfields used for small-scale charter flights. Practically, the only way to get to the southern coast is by boat from Rabaul, on the eastern tip of New Britain.

It involves a long and usually overnight journey, which will take you down through the St George’s Channel, in between New Britain and nearby New Ireland. The channel needs to be navigated with respect, as there are some fierce and complex currents flowing through it. It is a journey that Alan Raabe, the skipper and owner of MV Febrina, has been doing regularly for well over 20 years, but only for a few months of each year, during the dry season in the south when pristine underwater visibility returns.

Alan has been exploring New Britain and many other parts of Papua New Guinea since 1991 and it is a basic fact that nobody knows those areas as well as he does. Interestingly enough, he considers the southern coast as one of the absolute gems of Papua New Guinea diving.