While we were supposed to go to Kitava, another island of the Trobiands, there was a quick change of plan. It looked like the weather was going to be against us, so it was decided that instead of a day in Kitava, we would do scenic cruising into the extinct volcano that is Garove island, and pass some other volcanoes (Tolokiwa and Unea) along the way. For this nature nut, it was perfect!
Garove island is the largest island of the of the Vitu (also known as Witu) island group in the Bismarck sea north of the island of new Britain. It’s 12km wide and has a flooded caldera that is 5km wide that is open to the sea via a narrow passage. The walls of the caldera rise to about 200m above sea level. This is a pretty special part of the world for two reasons: Firstly, it’s pretty untouched (it’s been said that there are still parts of New Guinea that have not been explored yet) and secondly, not many cruise ships go to Garove Island (Let me rephrase: we were one of maybe about 5 that have ever been there). I hadn’t even heard of it a month ago!
There is not much information about the history of Garove, or in fact the whole Vitu Island chain. According to what I could find out, the island erupted sometime in the late 1800’s and caused a large Tsunami (about 100m high), which is what caused this amazing caldera to be filled with sea water. The Germans occupied the Vitu Island group in WWI and it was occupied by the Japanese in WWII. Most of the villages are situated on the outside of Garove Island, with only one village (Witu – established in 1952) located on the inside of the caldera. The scenery speaks for its self as to why this is.
So scenic cruising is exactly as the name implies. It’s pretty much a sea day with a certain time that you need to be outside, camera in hand ready to see something amazing. And amazing it was – I spent all afternoon with camera in one hand, iPhone in the other watching the scenery!
The locals were out in their traditional canoes around the ship, and they were as interested in us as we were in them. I wonder if they knew we were coming?
This was three spectacular hours of my life I’ll never forget. Words just don’t convey how amazing Garove Island is, so I hope you enjoy the pictures. PNG truly is another world!
Until next time with another volcano somewhere,