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Conflict Islands

Eighty miles east of Papua New Guinea rest the Conflict Islands, a 21-island atoll named after a British naval ship that surveyed this remote corner of the Coral Sea in the 1880s. Today, it’s the only freehold archipelago for sale in the world, its name a dramatic misnomer for its tranquil landscape of white sand beaches, swaying palms and electric-blue sea ribboned with colorful coral reefs.

A sunken volcano gifted the 925-acre ...

Eighty miles east of Papua New Guinea rest the Conflict Islands, a 21-island atoll named after a British naval ship that surveyed this remote corner of the Coral Sea in the 1880s. Today, it’s the only freehold archipelago for sale in the world, its name a dramatic misnomer for its tranquil landscape of white sand beaches, swaying palms and electric-blue sea ribboned with colorful coral reefs.

A sunken volcano gifted the 925-acre island group with a dazzling turquoise lagoon that is home to over 3,000 species of fish, more types of coral than the Great Barrier Reef, and the third-largest green turtle nesting ground in the South Pacific. The largest island, Irai, delights above and below the surface with 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) of beachfront and reefs that offer record numbers of fish species in a single dive. A partnership with the Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative helps to protect this one-of-a-kind marine habitat, which shelters 20 vulnerable species. From 2020 to 2021, CICI released 11,000 green and endangered hawksbill turtle hatchlings into the waters, and also have developed programs to monitor the resident sharks and manta rays.

Aside from a six-bungalow eco resort with a cyclone-proof jetty and small landing strip on the third-largest island, Panasesa, the atoll is untouched; but it features in curated cruise ship itineraries, attracting divers and snorkelers to its kaleidoscopic underwater world, and is easily accessible via private jet from Sydney. Numerous options await a visionary new owner, ranging from a total focus on environmental protection to the construction of a more elaborate resort with an expanded runway for bigger aircraft. It would even be possible to develop private luxury residences on the smaller islands that are then serviced through the main resort—all of them benefitting from proximity to one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.

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ISSUE # 25 - SPRING/SUMMER 2021

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