Samarai is an island and former administrative capital in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. The island is historically significant as the site of a trading port and stop-over between Australia and East Asia. Samarai town was established on the island and at its height was the second largest after Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua.
The town of Samarai was ordered to be destroyed by the British during World War II, fearing Japanese occupation. Although rebuilt after the war, and functioning as provincial headquarters until 1968, economic changes meant that Samarai did not fully regain its regional status and it has since largely fallen into disrepair. The island was declared a National Historical Heritage Island by the government of Papua New Guinea in 2006. Located off the south-eastern tip of New Guinea in the China Strait Samarai has an area of just 285,000 square metres (70 acres) or 29 hectares. In 2014, the island had a population of 460, making it one of the most densely populated islands in the area.
The island was discovered by Captain John Moresby whilst commanding HMS Basilisk in 1873. John Moresby originally called the island Dinner Island, after having a meal on it. Five years later in 1878 the Rev. S. MacFarlane of the London Missionary Society established a mission station on the island. A government officer was posted to the island after a protectorate had been declared over British New Guinea.
After the outbreak of World War II and with the Japanese advance into the Pacific, the Australian Government ordered the evacuation of Samarai in January 1942 and later in the year it was destroyed to stop the wharves and buildings falling under Japanese control. In July 1943 a detachment of US Navy Seabees established a small seaplane base on the island. Despite a lack of materials the base including a 50 feet (15 m) ramp and hangar was constructed in 42 days. Although Samarai was reestablished after the war, it never returned to its former size or influence and in 1968 the provincial capital for Milne Bay was moved to Alotau.
On arrival you will be met by the locals, and you will be able to witness various traditions, such as fishing, basket and mat weaving as well as traditional way of cooking. There will be some handicrafts available to purchase on the pier. The island walking tour, guided by local residents are keen to tell you all about their little island and the surrounding islands of Milne Bay province. You will stop at historical markers and other points of interest for briefings and meet the people of this remarkable island. The tour ends back on the pier.
Please note: Comfortable shoes recommended. Please bring a bottle of water from the ship. The itinerary of this tour is subject to changes depending on local customs, holidays, road and weather conditions.
Registration for this excursion is available onboard only