Ponam Island, Papua New Guinea
Ponam Island lies within the Admiralty archipelago located in Manus Province, the smallest and most northerly in Papua New Guinea. Occupied by Japanese forces in 1942, Ponam was retaken by the Allies in June 1944; by that August, American “Seabees” had constructed an airfield on the southeast end that became an operations base for the British Royal Navy. You can explore remnants of the former World War II base, and dive the wrecks of several crashed aircraft in the surrounding waters. Snorkelers spot neon-blue parrotfish, bright yellow butterflyfish, and other colorful species darting amidst the adjacent barrier reef, the longest in Manus Province. Spend the morning browsing the market in Lorengau, the main hub on nearby Manus Island, and move to the syncopated rhythms of Manus’s distinctive garamut or slit drum. You can go game fishing for marlin, mackerel, dogtooth tuna, and massive Napoleon wrasse; or explore tiny Tuluman Island, which emerged during the 1950s after a multi-year eruption of the undersea Tuluman Volcano.