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Diving in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is remote but worth the trip with its astounding marine biodiversity and some of the best scuba diving the Coral Triangle has to offer.

Diving in Papua New Guinea

Quick facts

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a land of breathtaking landscapes and amazing creatures both above and below the water’s surface. It’s an adventurer’s playground with thick tropical jungles, high mountain ranges and spectacular scuba diving. Located in the Asia Pacific region’s Coral Triangle, surrounding by the Bismarck, Coral and Solomon Seas, PNG has a stunning array of marine species just waiting to be discovered. With barrier reefs, coral walls, fringing reefs and sea grass beds along with spectacular World War II wrecks, scuba diving in PNG reveals treats around every corner. Dive from a shore-based operation or a liveaboard to explore just some of the 52,000 square kilometres/20,000 square miles of reef systems.

Recommended training

The PADI Drift Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses are natural choices for diving on PNGs wrecks and pinnacles. PADI Enriched Air Diver is also a good idea because enriched air nitrox is readily available, especially on liveaboards.

When to go

You can dive Papua New Guinea year-round, but conditions change based on which sea you are diving. Generally, the South Pacific and Coral Sea rea great from December to April, while the Solomon Sea is fantastic during every month of the year. The Bismarck Sea is best dived from May to November, but it does get a bit windy in August. As a final note, September is manta season in Milne Bay. Water temperatures range from 77-86°F (25-30°C) throughout the country, and visibility usually ranges from 66-130ft (20-40m) unless you are diving at muck diving sites or sites near mangrove swamps.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

  • Kavieng

    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.

  • Kimbe Bay

    Kimbe Bay is a huge marine protected area with an extremely bio-diverse ecosystem.

  • Milne Bay

    Dive with a pygmy seahorse, manta ray or even a hammerhead shark at one of the world’s best diving destinations, Milne Bay.

USD 1,588Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 2,060Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 3,120Per trip
USD 1,140Per trip
USD 3,720Per trip
P38 Lightning, Milne Bay – The single seater fighter was ditched during World War II and went undiscovered for more than 50 years. Sitting in 27 metres/90 feet of water, the plane’s nose and guns point toward a nearby reef. The plane is intact except for the propellers, which broke off, but were later recovered and placed near the wreck. Suzie’s Bommie, Port Moresby – This is a sunken barrier reef that rises up from the sand at 30 metres/100 feet to within 12 metres/40 feet of the surface. The reef hosts a diversity of marine life from pygmy seahorses to schooling sweet lips. Vanessa’s Reef, Kimbe Bay – Giant sea fans dominate this bowl-shaped reef with barrel sponges, vibrant bright red and white sea whips and beautiful coral gardens adding to the scenery. Look for schools of rainbow runners and jacks patrolling the outer blue water. Bradford Shoals, Kimbe Bay – This pinnacle rises up from the deep to within 20 metres/65 feet of the surface. It attracts pelagics, such as hammerheads, tuna and whales. Look for schools of barracuda and jacks. Flat plates of hard corals and a few colonies of leather coral cover the pinnacle. Der Yang, Kavieng – This wreck is a Taiwanese long-line fishing boat that lies on its side in 30 metres/100 feet of water northwest of Kavieng. It was scuttled by the government in 1988 and is remarkably intact with lots of growth, including red sea whips and colorful crinoids. Look for schools of circling barracuda. Albatross Passage, Kavieng – This narrow passage between islands has lots of tidal movement, which makes it a signature dive for Kavieng. The wall is richly covered with hard and soft corals, black coral trees and huge gorgonian fans. Look for barracudas, tuna, reef sharks, rays, turtles, mackerel and big eye trevally to swim by in the current.

What to see

The coral reefs of Papua New Guinea lie within the Coral Triangle, an area with the highest marine biodiversity on earth. During muck dives and macro dives, you are likely to see pygmy seahorses, mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, and varieties of frogfish, scorpionfish and pipefish. Not forgetting more types of nudibranch than you might be able to remember as well as multiple species of shrimp and crab. There are larger reef dwellers to look out for as well including nurse sharks, groupers, wobbegongs and leopard sharks.

Divers looking for pelagic marine life will be delighted with Papua New Guinea. Hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks are frequently seen in Papua New Guinea along with passing pods of whales and dolphins. At the outer seamounts and drop-offs, schooling pelagic fish like barracuda, tuna, mackerel, and trevally are often seen hunting for prey like snapper and fusilier together with sharks.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

With tales of headhunters and cannibalism, Papua New Guinea still remains a mystery to most of the developed world. Culturally diverse with some 848 languages spoken and only 18% of its population living in urban areas, Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s least explored countries. The country occupies the eastern half of New Guinea Island and has a modest population of 7 million people.

Spanish and Portuguese explorers encountered Papua New Guinea in the 16th century but it was not explored until the 19th century. It was ruled by Germans in the 19th century and part of it was colonized by the British in the early 20th century before being transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia. Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975.

Lying just below the equator, Papua New Guinea is a hot and humid country and largely covered in dense tropical rainforest. Papua New Guinea also sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent earthquakes and has live volcanoes. These conditions also give way to extremely fertile land and amazing land and marine animal biodiversity. Besides rainforests, Papua New Guinea also has a large wetland and is fringed by healthy coral reefs.

As a travel destination, Papua New Guinea is perfect for the nature enthusiast and outdoor adventurer. There are many treks to choose from in the highlands and lowlands where you can also spot birds-of-paradise. Ocean lovers will find miles of coast to explore with snorkeling, surfing and of course, world-class scuba diving.

Other attractions

Go to a Sing Sing for a cultural experience. Hike on the many forest trails with a qualified guide. Surf just outside Port Moresby. Visit the National Botanical Gardens and the National Museum

Getting there

Fly to Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby directly from Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Bali, or Japan. Land transport infrastructure is poor so you will have to take connecting flights on local carriers like Air Niugini to other destinations in Papua New Guinea.

UTC+10:00

Time zone

PGK

Currency

+675

Calling code

240 V

Electric volt

I

Plug type

POM

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.