Friendly, peaceful Kokopo and Rabaul
Kokopo, as the "new Rabaul" following the 1994 eruptions of Tavurvur and Vulcan volcanoes ewhich wiped out most of Rabaul town, is a friendly, peaceful township with a smiling welcome for visitors and little crime. What's left of the old Rabaul is the same.
Visitors find most people speak English (they also speak the lingua franca, Tok Pisin, and one or more of the many local languages) and are all too ready to help a confused visitor. One man's reaction on returning to Rabaul.
So many things to do and so much to see!
The area, the Gazelle Peninsula, is one of the most popular places to visit in New Guinea for good reason -- it offers visitors so many choices:
- LOCAL LIFE - walk the streets of Kokopo and Rabaul, see the lively town market and be amazed at the cornucopia offered for sale. This is the wet tropics at its best with apparently unlimited quantities of fruits and vegetables. Experience a village tour.
- VOLCANOES - walking or sea tours of Tavurvur and Vulcan are special! (Check with expert tour operators regarding Tavurvur visits following the 29 August 2014 eruption.)
- CULTURE - the songs, music, and dances (singsings) and the fantastic costuming of the people o f this area are unique. The National Mask and Warwagira and Frangipani Festivals offer special performances for visitors but there are singsings happening all the time.
- WAR HISTORY - Rabaul's deep and secure harbor, a breached caldera, made it the Japanese headquarters in the South Pacific. "Fortress Rabaul" was never conquered by the Allies. Tours of the remnant fortifications explain why.
- DIVING - the islands and coastal reefs of the area are legendary among divers.
- FISHING - big game and for the pot; the fish are almost always biting somewhere. Beware of fish leaping out of the sea into your frying pan!
- CAVING - deep and shallow, short and long. Many caves are unexplored.
- FAUNA AND FLORA - growth is riotous, color everywhere! Orchids grace trees in the main street, giant butterflies and moths abound, the parrots are stunning. The marine life is just as varied, colorful, and exotic.