Rabaul was previously the capital of East New Britain, before it was replaced by Kokopo after the 1994 volcanic eruptions. Boasting evergreen rainforest and rugged terrain, East New Britain is a fascinating island just ripe for exploration.
The Baining Fire Dance is particular to the Rabaul people and can be seen in various villages in the region. This famous dance is believed to keep evil spirits at bay and is an insight into the depth and variety of the local culture. The Mask Festival in Rabaul, held in July each year, sees thousands of visitors flock from all around the globe to experience this colourful event. The region becomes awash with a euphoria and pride that only Papua New Guineans can exude.
Things to see and do
Rabaul Volcanological Observatory, located above the main town on Mt North Daughter, was established after the 1937 eruption at Rabaul. The observatory is responsible for monitoring fourteen active and twenty-three dormant volcanoes
along three volcanic arcs in Papua New Guinea. The Rabaul and Kokopo region, alone, boasts seven volcanoes. At the base of Mt Tavurvur you will find bubbling hot springs where you can sit down and enjoy lunch while viewing the volcano in all its glory.
The Japanese War Memorial in Rabaul is the largest Japanese World War II memorial in the Pacific. Kokopo War Museum and the Bita Paka War Cemetery in Rabaul both offer visitors a reminder of the region’s war history. Rabaul also boasts an impressive collection of World War II relics, tunnels and caverns from the 1942 occupation by the Japanese. If you’re interested in war history make sure you take the time to check them out.
The aircraft and submarines wrecks that litter the reefs surrounding East New Britain offer both sport diving and snorkelling, with excellent visibility that affords
year round pleasure. Simpson Harbour, the location where 54 Japanese ships were sunk during the war effort, and the Beehives (a small group of craggy islands) both offer great diving. Tavui Point provides an amazing snorkelling adventure over Japanese submarines.
Other attractions worth checking out
- East New Britain Historical and Cultural Centre in Kokopo
- Vunapope Catholic Mission in Kokopo
- Malmaluan Lookout
- Duke of York Islands
Annual Festivals & Shows
- Mask Festival of Rabaul, July