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Sleepy and remote, Kavieng in Papua New Guinea is a diving all-rounder with great wrecks, pristine reefs and if lucky, sightings of schooling silvertip sharks.

Diving in Kavieng

Quick facts

Divers can choose land-based diving from Kavieng town or Lissenung Island, or opt to explore the area via liveaboard diving vessel. Water temperature is warm throughout the year at 82-86˚F (28-30˚C) and with so many different dive sites to choose from, even new divers will be comfortable here.

There are several areas for diving at Kavieng. To the southwest, the Bismarck Sea offers drop-offs and swift passages packed with marine pelagic life. To the north and northeast of Kavieng, divers will encounter the South Pacific Ocean and stretches of pristine and rarely visited coral reef. Another treat for divers are fresh water caves near Kavieng town. This however will require special certification and experience.

Kavieng harbor and New Hanover Island is where most of the World War II wrecks are located and almost all of them are easily accessible to recreational divers. Some outstanding wrecks include the Sanko Maru, Catalina, Deep Pete seaplane wreck and also a rare Japanese midget submarine which is completely intact.

Diving at Kavieng is excellent year-round, even during the rainy season of December to April. You’ll regularly enjoy warm waters and excellent visibility.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Most of the airplane wrecks and shipwrecks in Kavieng are overgrown with soft and hard coral. Frequently seen at wrecks are resident schools of yellowtail snapper, curious batfish and within the nooks and crannies find blennies, moray eels and crabs.

At the passes where currents are swift, expect to see big schools of barracuda and bigeye trevally as well as grey reef sharks, whitetip sharks and hunting fish like tuna. Eagle rays also frequent the passes and occasionally mobula rays.

Elsewhere at coral gardens, sloping reefs and walls, see more schools of fish like fusilier and snapper together with giant groupers and cleaning fish like unicornfish and surgeonfish. A particularly exciting site is near New Hanover Island where there have been sightings of schooling silvertip sharks.

Critter hunters will not be disappointed in Kavieng. A closer look at most reefs will reveal many types of nudibranch and interesting creatures like frogfish, crocodilefish, pipefish, scorpionfish, waspfish and seahorses.


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A destination distinctively known for its scuba diving excellence, the sleepy seaside town of Kavieng is the capital of the island of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea. Kavieng town is part of the Kavieng district that sits at the northern tip of New Ireland. The district includes the island of New Hanover and the St. Matthias group of islands.

World War II was a tumultuous time in Kavieng’s history. In 1942, the town was first bombarded by the Imperial Japanese Navy as they made their way into Papua New Guinea. Kavieng was then used as a Japanese naval base because of its strategic location but this didn’t last long. In 1944, the Allied Forces of Americans and Australians invaded Papua New Guinea and there was a devastating air raid on Kavieng.

As a result, Kavieng’s waters contain many aircraft wrecks and shipwrecks which are a main attraction for scuba divers. Besides war remnants, diving in general is top quality at Kavieng with plenty of healthy coral reef and great marine biodiversity.

Other attractions

Take land tours to explore the coast, visit villages or learn about the events of World War II. There are also snorkeling trips and even kite surfing at Lissenung. During the rainy season, surfing enthusiast can head to New Hanover. Fresh water snorkeling can be done as well at the Pakawala sinkhole.

Getting there

Fly to Kavieng Airport from Port Moresby, Lorengau or Rabaul on Air Niugini. The airport is only an hour away from Kavieng town center.


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240 V

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Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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