Best Diving sites in Papua New Guinea

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If you have dived in Papua New Guinea before, please share your experiences: Dive spots you would recommend, which Dive Center you used, Fishes & Diving, Visibility, Currents, etc. Please post your comments in the section below, by doing so you will help fellow divers to plan their next trip ;)

Papua New Guinea (PNG), has been called the wild wild west of diving. Some attribute the saying to the seemly unstable law and order situation. However, expat divers, refer to it as the untamed beauty of the underwater wilderness. Papua New Guinea is located in what is called the Rim of Fire, a highly volcanic active ring around the Pacific Ocean. Actually, Papua New Guinea shares it’s main island with the province of Papua, in Indonesia.

papua new guinea diving review

Diving in Port Moresby © 2017 Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority

Also, the country forms one of the boundaries of the Coral Triangle, which has the greatest diversity of marine life in the world. Indeed, the fauna is diverse, but so is the flora, so you will find that you can try just about every type dives in the region. For example, Papua New Guinea is the birthplace of the term muck diving and the heated black sand dive sites will leave you with only great memories. Other countries forming the coral triangle are Indonesia, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Malaysia.

The waters around PNG include parts of the Bismarck, Coral and Solomon Seas. The difficulties of reaching some of the areas translates to only dedicated divers traveling to many of the locations. It’s great as it leads to uncrowded diving. For example, diving cruises and liveaboard vessels seldom have to share a dive site with another liveaboard. Even resort base dive boats seldom are on site with another dive boats. Plus, diving is done from smaller dive boats and no massive “cattle” boat operates in Papua New Guinea.

In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in Papua New Guinea.

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Best Dive Review

Papua New Guinea is often no more than a name for most people, even divers. The country has a land mass of 452,860 square kilometers (174,850 square miles). Plus, much of that land mass consists in jungles that the western man has never seen. Also, scientist believe that there are tribes within the country that have never been encountered by outsiders.

Moreover, when it comes to the seaside, Papua New Guinea has and estimated 52,000 square kilometers/ 20,000 sq. miles of reef systems. Diving wise, lot’s of places are very interesting, and the good news is that despite the limited land access, the country has a correct airport network. Indeed, you’ll be able to make it to most of the most amazing diving sites in Papua New Guinea, which we highlight below:

    • Port Moresby is on the main island and has the only international airport in the country so all tourist that arrive by air pass here. Most of them head directly out to some of the other dive destinations in the country. Port Moresby does have some outstanding diving in its own right and deserves at least a few days. Nateara Reef is a barrier reef within an easy reach from the port. Along the reef is a variety of dive sites, some on the deep side and others in the lagoon. Also, the dive site selection includes some wrecks.

    • The Milne Bay Province is the most popular of the dive destinations, and is also located on the main island. Indeed, it is the area that has put Papua New Guinea on the worlds best scuba diving map. The Black Jack dive site is a B-17 that is considered the best aircraft dive site in PNG and is often on the list of best aircraft wreck site in the world.

    • Kimbe Bay is located on New Britain Island, which is the largest of the islands after New Guinea. The island is volcanic, with many active volcanoes. As for Kimbe Bay, it is a very large area, offering a wide range of scuba diving opportunities. Indeed, the varied underwater seascape allows for diversity and much fun for the divers. Plus, the Witu group of volcanic islands are dived from Kimbe Bay as well as the other islands in the area.

    • Rabaul and the Duke of York Islands are also a part of New Britain province, but at the opposite end of the island from Kimbe Bay. Indeed, Rabaul is located on the rim of a caldera with Simpson Harbor, which is a natural harbor. During WWII, this area became a major Japanese military base and attacks are said to have sunk over 50 ships in the harbor. The location of most of them have been lost to time or buried under ash from an eruption in 1944. Still, there are at least 10 wrecks in the harbor that are known and dived.

    • Kavieng is located at the northern tip of New Ireland Island and offers mostly wreck diving. Also, the Bismark sea side of the island offer great reef diving. Plus, both the Pacific Ocean and the Bismark sides have large pelagic year round. The Albatross Passage is considered he signature dive for the area. Strong current in the channel between two islands create a world class drift dive.

papua new guinea scuba diving review

Diving in tufi papua new guinea © 2017 Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority

How to dive Papua New Guinea?

The main diving areas shown above each have dive resorts that will provide you the means to dive with local guides. Most divers staying on land will find that it is much easier and way more convenient to stay at a dive resort or accommodations recommended by a dive operator.

The best option for PNG is often sailing on one of the liveaboards. Indeed, it makes it easy to  experiment lots of diving each day, but it also takes you to locations where no one else is diving.

Best time to dive in Papua New Guinea

Diving is great year round. However, May to November is the best times. The rainy season varies between the different dive destinations so it would be useful to adjust your arrival for the island you are going to.

Top liveaboards in Papua New Guinea according to divers reviews

Dive courses

While there are many dive sites open to beginning divers, it would perhaps be better to learn to dive and getting some experience before coming to Papua New Guinea.

Moreover, the destination is excellent for wreck divers and drift divers. So, if you do not have these certifications, they are a good choice to learn here. Also, the underwater photography is outstanding in the region. Make sure you bring your underwater camera, and maybe even take a photography course if you would like to develop your photographer’s skills!

Scuba Diving conditions

Being near the equator, Papua New Guinea’s air and water temperatures do not vary much. Indeed, you can expect water temperatures around 23-31°C/74 -87°F all year. It mostly varies depending on the location, and not the season. Also, the underwater visibility is often over 100 meters, while some coastal sites might only have 50 meters.

Snorkelling in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has many dive sites that would be good for snorkeling. That being said, the country is not known particularly for it’s beaches and shore diving. Thus, we can guess that the number of opportunity to snorkel might be quite limited, if not on a scuba diving cruise.

Fishes and Coral

As mentioned before, Papua New Guinea is part of the coral triangle, thus home to a great deal of marine life. Indeed, you can be assured of seeing more species of marine life that you can keep track of! Of course, the marine life density and diversity varies between different sites. For example, sites near deep water will have abundant pelagic species. As for ship wrecks sites and natural reefs, they will be overwhelmed with reef fishes. Also, turtles, marine mammals and some sharks can be found on most dive sites.

Diving Safety

If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to Papua New Guinea, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.

Papua New Guinea is a destination for the dedicated diver. Indeed, the remoteness of Papua New Guinea’s islands can be a challenge for many. Yet, once you arrive at your dive resort or aboard your scuba diving cruise, and slip into the water the first time, you will see it was well worth the effort and time spent travelling!

Travel Guide

Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our Papua New Guinea Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.

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