The Louisiade Archipelago is probably one of the safest places in the world. Parents allow their children to roam free on the islands to swim, play on the beach, and even paddle their canoes out to meet visiting yachties. These people do not know the fear that afflicts city dwellers. There is no "stranger danger", probably because there are so few strangers! Instead of considering outsiders a potential threat, the general culture appears to welcome new visitors, as visitors bring news from further afield and opportunity to trade.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of hazards to take into consideration.
Cuts, Bites, and Skin Infections
Refer to Health Section
A few islands are home to saltwater crocodiles, however we did not see any evidence of crocs during our visit. The locals did not seem particularly concerned about them, but they did advise us against swimming or snorkelling in these areas.
We did see sharks around the islands. While snorkelling around the fringing reef drop-offs we saw a few small white tip reef sharks, and a few other yachts lost their catch to sharks while trolling through reef passes. White tips are fairly timid sharks that spend most of their time close to the bottom, and are generally of no concern to swimmers. There was no sign of black tip reef sharks or the larger pelagic sharks that often cruise over the reef flats and feed at lagoon entrances on the Great Barrier Reef, although we observed some large shadows swimming around the Nimoa anchorage during the night.
It is probably best to adhere to common sense guidelines with regard to sharks in the Louisiades. Avoid swimming around sunset and sunrise, do not throw food scraps or clean fish in the vicinity where you intend to swim, and listen to the advice of the locals.
Generally speaking, the Louisiades is a very safe place for tourists. What little crime exists in the region tends to involve petty matters between locals, or in a few instances alcohol fuelled domestic violence. There is no threat of violence, assault and robbery that plagues some other parts of PNG such as Port Moresby.
We were only aware of one dangerous locale, which is the dock area of Bwagoia after dark. The risk appears to be from young men who have had a few too many beers. Once again, common sense prevails and it is best not to linger here after dark, and particularly not alone.
We never felt threatened in the islands, and most of the locals welcome yachties as an opportunity to trade and bring much needed kina into the local economy, and they recognise that they will stop coming if they have a bad experience. Nevertheless it is again common sense not to leave attractive items lying unattended in your dinghy or in the cockpit while you go ashore. On the other hand, you should have no problem leaving your dinghy unattended on the beach while you visit the local attractions. In many cases you will even have a mob of small helpers to assist you to haul the dinghy up the beach, and who will happily keep an eye on it until you return, especially for a handful of balloons, lollies, or a few kina.
It seems that most of the locals consider our boats as our homes, and respect them accordingly. We are not aware of any cases of locals boarding a boat uninvited, and even then they tend to remain in the cockpit rather than invading your personal realm below.
Although readily available in Bwagoia we did not see any locals drinking alcohol in the islands. We were advised not to offer it as the people here generally lack alcohol tolerance and can become aggressive when drinking, which generally takes its toll on the women of the community.
For this reason the selling of yeast is regulated to make it harder for people to create their own home brew. Nevertheless it does happen and we heard stories about bush stills and "Jungle Juice" or "JJ", which is apparently the catalyst behind most violence in the island communities, however we never saw any sign of this local moonshine or its effects.