If you have just rolled down from the Highlands on an arse-spanking PMV (public motor vehicle), Morobe and Madang, with their beaches and bays, will be a welcome change. Both offer plenty of scope to grab a snorkel, slap on some sunscreen and banana boat–hop your way between bays.
Geographically speaking, Morobe and Madang are quite similar – both rise from pristine beaches off Papua New Guinea’s northern coast into a series of thickly forested hills, imposing mountain ranges and, ultimately, the Highlands.
But that is where their similarities end. Lae, the abandoned child of the gold-rush era, grew up hard. In the 1940s she was invaded by the Japanese and bombed by the Allies and is only now finding her feet as an economic and industrial hub.
Madang, situated on a small peninsula jutting into a tranquil harbour, is Lae’s younger, prettier sister and despite being heavily bombed in WWII, has retained much of her sunny, carefree ways.