Little Pigeon Island, PNG – tiny, uninhabited, sand cay with view of volcanos 2

Little Pigeon Island, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

You’re skimming over perfectly still water. Not just reasonably still water; this is perfectly still. Like glass.

Glassy water, Little Pigeon Island, PNG

Perfectly still water on the way to Little Pigeon Island. Photo credit: Benjamin White

It’s so still, and so clear, that when a pod of spinner dolphins swim beneath the boat you can see their forms through the water as if staring into a glass tank in an aquarium.

Spinner dolphins, Little Pigeon Island, PNG

Spinner dolphins. Photo credit: Arthur White

You follow the dolphins but it’s early in the morning, and after a few minutes of frolicking, and demonstrating why they’re called spinner dolphins – it’s because they spin around like a top when they leap from the water – they disperse to continue their daily hunt for fish.

Little Pigeon Island, PNG

Little Pigeon Island. Photo credit: Benjamin White

You make your way across the glassy sea surface for about an hour or so, till reaching the edge of a coral reef, then you pull on your scuba gear and plop into the water. Diving conditions are perfect; 40 metres visibility, zero current, and it’s 32 degrees Celsius at a depth of 20 metres.

Little Pigeon Island

Little Pigeon Island, PNG

Mt Tavurvur on the horizon. Photo credit: Benjamin White

When you’ve completed your dive you return to the surface, and there to greet you (in the distance) is Mt Tavurvur, PNG’s most active volcano.

You swim to shore, to a tiny, uninhabited, sand cay, and at last you are on Little Pigeon Island: your home for the day.

Little Pigeon Island, PNG

Exploring Little Pigeon Island. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Little Pigeon Island is crown land, and therefore free for all to access and use. Mostly it’s used as a picnicking spot by residents of Kokopo.

Western tourists (and this is true of PNG in general) are few and far between.

Little Pigeon Island, PNG

Neighbouring Big Pigeon Island. Photo credit: Benjamin White

What’s on Little Pigeon Island?

Absolutely nothing.

Just sandy beaches, lush green vegetation, crystal clear water, and views of volcanos.

Practical Information and how to reach Little Pigeon Island:

Little Pigeon Island is located ten kilometres offshore from Kokopo, capital of the province of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea, and about 18 kilometres from Rabaul, the former capital (Rabaul was destroyed by Mt Tavurvur in 1994). More transport info to and around Rabaul here.

Tours to Little Pigeon Island can be organised from any of the hotels in Kokopo. If you are feeling adventurous you could stock up on supplies and spend a week on the island.

More on Papua New Guinea:

Rabaul – Jewel of the South Pacific, buried by volcanic ash

Port Moresby Nature Park – dorcopsis, bird of paradise, tree kangaroo, and more

Bilbil Village – famous for its arcane male initiation ceremony

Port Moresby: Independence Day + Pineapple Bldg = worth a visit?

More on the South Pacific:

Easter Island:

The Moai Quarry, Easter Island, Chile – 397 moai, a volcano, a mystery, a cataclysm


Fafa Island – sailing and swimming alongside a 15m-long humpback whale


Port Vila – Erakor Lagoon + Iririki Island + Mele Cascades = Pacific getaway 

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