BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
ESCAPE from the pressures and luxuries of life and yield to nature for a refreshing and renewing break.
One of the most promising escapes I propose will surely entice your imagination forever.
It’s just a spec of “a million different journeys” Papua New Guinea has to offer.
Magical sunsets, tranquil turquoise waters and white sandy beaches will never cease to amaze you.
The surf is magnificent, perfect snorkeling spots and lush tropical rainforests abundant in flora, fauna and crystal clear streams.
The destination I propose also has a coastline that is picturesque, the stuff post cards are made off.
Drooling already? Then cease imagining what it will be like and lodge airline bookings to experience Vanimo, Sandaun province.
Remote, yet promising, it is the country’s most north easterly township.
Vanimo is an ideal rest and recreation destination that is worth the money and effort.
Vanimo is also the gateway to South East Asia. About 45 minutes drive west you reach the border station of Wutung, cross over and you are in Indonesia’s Papua province. The border is about 30km away.
Laidback and quiet, Vanimo is a down-to-earth and simple hideaway.
To get there you can opt for a road trip from Lae to Madang and experience the highway culture, meet locals and then enjoy a boat ride from Madang.
But if you are in a hurry to ride a wave, or put your feet up or take in the sights then Vanimo is just a flight away from the capital Port Moresby.
Our national airline, Air Niugini does the Port Moresby-Vanimo route every Monday, Wednesday and Friday via Madang.
On Sunday it flies via Madang and Wewak.
Air Niugini offers a special “paradise fare” from Port Moresby – Vanimo at K452 one way and a “super saver” at K565 one way. These fares apply throughout the year.
Touch down in Vanimo and need not worry for a taxi or shuttle as the town is small and all amenities including accommodation is a stroll away.
There are shops, a post office, hire cars and a bank. Air Niuigni has an office there, just in case you need to extend your bookings.
It’s a peaceful town and security is not a concern, but if it’s your first time – a guide is advisable.
Vanimo Beach Hotel and Sandaun Surf Motel are in town and only a stones throw from the waters edge.
Other places I can think of include the Visser Guest House, Varmoneh Lodge. A few new ones Silung lodge and Tanyulih lodge has also popped up, because of the demand.
Tanyulih is located at Baro, Yako village which is along the West Coast of Vanimo.
A good friend says “all other accommodations are in Vanimo town or near the town. You can find the numbers in the telephone directory and ring up to confirm your bookings”.
Simple accommodation is also available in other parts some mission stations can also put you up for a night or two.
Once settled, you can pre-pare to enjoy the many attractions on offer.
Go trekking, cycling, snorkeling, bird watching or sightseeing.
You can also enjoy the culture through tradition song and dance that can be arranged or you can visit the locals who weave traditional baskets and artifacts.
The people are friendly, calm and composed.
And if you are a surfer, then regard Vanimo as your home, because it has high regard by many whom have ridden the majestic swells that are ideal from October to April.
Lido village, which sits ideally across the peninsula from Vanimo, is an ideal surfing spot.
An expatriate surfer once said “Vanimo is a place time forgot. Friendly locals and decent surf makes it a place I would return to”.
From Vanimo travel along the splendid coastline to Wutung in the west or to Aitape to the east where endless sandy beaches await you, and trust me you may be privileged to have a nice spot all by yourself.
You never know the only foot prints in the sand could be yours.
Even the white sandy beaches of Bondi in Sydney which I have set foot on, are no match to the simplicity Vanimo has to offer.
At Aitape, slightly offshore there are several little islands that you can take a boat ride to for a picnic.
There are also has a war memorial and some wreckage from World War two
For some contrast, travel inland where high rugged peaks in the Telefomin and Bewani mountains and thick tropical rainforest lush with flora and fauna will greet you.
It will surely be a breath of fresh air.
After a hard day, put your feet up and allow the gentle and fresh ocean breeze and sound of gentle waves caress your mind and body.
Vanimo is nuzzled ideally on a peninsula and the white sandy beaches and turquoise waters surrounding it create a magical and calm ambiance everyday.
After a hectic day riding waves or sightseeing, enjoy a soda, maybe something stronger and watch the sun set magnificently on the horizon.
Sunsets in this part of the country are breathtakingly awesome and truly end your day with such splendor.
At times when I am so stressed from the daily chores of life, I reflect back to the magnificent sunsets of Vanimo, and I regain peace of mind.
Sunsets here so awesome, you experience your first and you will wish time paused for a moment.
Other memories of the province may distort over time but the setting sun remains a clear picture as if it was only yesterday.
No wonder itís called Sandaun – the name says it all.
So stop pondering on the budget, just do the math and let faith do the rest.