Loloata Island, Papua New Guinea

Photo: Loloata Island Resort

Something is brewing in the South Pacific. It’s a potential game-changer for Papua New Guinea, one of the most unexplored, undeveloped places on Earth. The country covers half of New Guinea, the second-largest island in the world. The other half belongs to Indonesia. For years, it was ruled by the Aussies. They didn’t venture far beyond Port Moresby, the small capital, or the nearby coast. Wealth was largely measured by land, pigs, and wives until recently. The discovery of natural gas and mineral reserves started to change that. Now tourism could be a big factor in the economy.

Papua New Guinea finally has a luxury resort. It was built on Loloata Island. That’s one of four islands that sit in Bootless Bay, a barrier reef-protected inlet located southeast of Port Moresby. It’s a quick boat ride from Tahira Marina. That’s where scuba divers depart for 29 dive sites, including coral-covered wrecks, in the bay. Plus it took over a resort from the 1970s. The old property was sold in 2016 and given a complete makeover beginning in 2018. Loloata Private Island Resort opened last year.

Loloata Private Island Resort is now a luxurious tropical hideaway. The island is a long, narrow ridge that’s covered with greenery. Palm trees and coral beaches stand at the edge of the crystal-clear water. A long dock extends off the island’s northern tip. It leads to a wide beach and a strikingly modern building that houses an open-air restaurant, a rooftop bar, an organic spa, and an ocean-facing pool. A handful of rooms are here, too. Though they have water views, they aren’t where you want to stay. Keep going.

A path heads south toward the suites. Ocean View Suites sit in the garden. They have glass-enclosed terraces with uninterrupted sea views. Over Water Suites stand on stilts. Their decks hang directly over the water. Both types of suites are private and secluded. They’re also close to a longer, quieter beach. The resort wouldn’t look out of place in Indonesia, the Philippines, or even Thailand. But it’s in Papua New Guinea. It won’t be long before you are, too.

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