Melanesia Expedition: Our Welcome to Baluan Island, Papua New Guinea

The Baluan ceremonial canoe paddled out to the ship to welcome us to the island and then came back to the beach to greet us as we came ashore on Zodiacs

Formed by a now extinct volcano, Baluan Island is the southernmost of the Admiralty Islands. The volcano’s eruption left rocks and boulders strewn all over the island, and the locals refer to it as the “palaces of stones.” These stones mark the end of many unlucky visitors, who were sacrificed on these natural altars. On our arrival we were greeted by a sign, “Welcome to Baluan, The Rocky Island of Fruits.” The main foods on the island are fish and vegetables grown in the perfect growing volcanic soil.

The warriors came down to the shore to greet us with a “war dance”

With this welcoming party, we wondered how welcome unfriendly visitors were in past times

A number of islanders set up an informal open air market with produce, fish, fruit, jewelry and carvings for sale to their visitors (and to other islanders)

One of the young dancers

This woman came over from Manus Island, the Provincial capital, to watch the ceremonies; her forehead tattoo is the marking that women on the island of Manus wear – each island has a distinct tattoo for their women


The island’s ceremonial canoe juxtaposed with our ship at anchor

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