Trobriand Islands

Overview

Introduction

These are the islands that, in the 1930s, anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski dubbed the "Islands of Love" because of his observation that total sexual freedom was granted to women upon reaching puberty. Locally called the "Trobes," these islands are seldom visited by outsiders. To us, the lifestyle of their residents seemed more Polynesian than Melanesian. The largest of these relatively flat islands is Kiriwina; because the islands are all rather similar, few people go beyond it. Stay in the town of Losuia, but visit the northern town of Kaibola (shop for excellent, if expensive, wood carvings—some with shell inlay) and spend time diving and lying on magnificent beaches (our favorite is Wawela, on the east side). Note that in the center of each village are yam houses (where yams are stored—be prepared to eat a lot of yams). The sleeping houses are scattered around them. We recommend staying at least three nights, but be forewarned that accommodations are poor and that the people can be unpleasantly aggressive. The best time to see the fertility dances is May-July, during harvest.

Note: When walking about, always ask permission to enter a village or use beaches, and never take photos of bare-breasted women or girls. 300 mi/485 km east of Port Moresby.

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