More than one-third of the world's languages are spoken on the island of New Guinea, of which Papua New Guinea (PNG) comprises the eastern half. The topography is diverse with high mountains, deep valleys and mist shrouded jungle, Papua New Guinea holds some of the worlds last places to discover, among more than 300 islands. Most villages live by the sidereal movements of sun and moon, time and tide. Underwater, it's a vast seascape of underwater wonders. Muck diving, drift, wall, World War II (WWII) wrecks, and thousands of yet to be discovered areas are all part of the undersea experience. This experience has such mind-boggling and overwhelming diversity that luminaries, like preeminent photographer David Doubilet, include Papua New Guinea among their favorite places to dive.
When to go:
Wet season lasts from December to March, while the dry season is between May and October.
When to Get the Best Deals:
The topography makes seasonal differences very localized. Check with local provider before you go.
What to Pack:
3/2 mm wetsuit or rash guard, inflatable signal tube for drift dives, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, comfortable shoes that can get wet for hiking, DAN card, long sleeved lightweight shirts, long trousers for cool nights, a light jacket for cool evenings, small medical kit.
Seasonal averages: 31°C/87°F year-round with only a 2°C/4°F fluctuation.
Seasonal averages: 27°C/81°F year-round, with only a 2°C/4°F fluctuation.
Kina; Credit cards are accepted at many resorts.
Valid passport; visa is required, but can be acquired at immigration in PNG.
Included in your airfare.
None required; but anti-malarial drugs are recommended for anyone venturing inland.
What to Eat:
Due to the remote nature of diving in PNG, you'll mostly eat at your resort. A few of the local ingredients that are available include fish, seafood, chicken, pig, taro, bananas, sweet potatoes, sago palm, leafy vegetables, coconut, guavas, mangos, papayas, passion fruits, pineapples and watermelons.
What to Drink:
SP (South Pacific) is the local beer, but you'll also find many imported beers. You'll find everything else you want to drink at your resort.
Sing Sing on the Sepik River; local village tours, skull caves; wood carving is exceptional in this part of the world, Mt. Hagen; shop at PNG Arts in Port Moresby.
Customs and Culture:
PNG has more than one-third of the world's languages, and each represents a unique culture. In general, the locals live at the whim of the sea and tide and on what they can hunt from the forest and the sea.
Enga Cultural Show, August; Mt. Hagen Show, Western Highlands, August; Tumbuan Mask Festival, New Britain, July; Goroka Show, Eastern Highlands, September; Hiri Moale Festival, Port Moresby, September.
Electricity and Internet:
240V/50Hz; Internet is quite sporadic.
Drink the water?
Drink only bottled water.
Pidgin is the common language; more than 700 distinct languages exist on PNG.
Amazing Marine Life
Resembling a frilly seahorse, you'll find these exotic fish hidden among crinoids.
These frilly, brilliantly colored invertebrates come in a dazzling array of shapes and sizes in PNG.
With its curling tail and iconic chess-piece profile, the pygmy seahorses can be difficult to spot, as it seldom grows taller than 2.5 centimeters/one inch.
This remarkable cephalopod can bend itself into shapes that resemble an array of other marine life.
Especially in places with strong current, swirling schools of barracuda.
This highly decorative anglerfish can be found in a variety of vivid shades, from oranges to pinks, and boast bait-like appendages with which to lure prey.
A vast variety of invertebrates inhabit PNG reefs, which is why it's known as a macro paradise.
A variety of sharks from grey reef to passing great hammerheads add a nice element of surprise to many dives.
These giants soar over the deeper drop-offs and walls.
Distinctive bands of white and orange mark these fish that are often found sheltering among the tentacles of an anemone.
Top Dive Spots
This site offers a range of experiences from fjords and wreck-dives to reef diving. Look for mandarin fish, nudibranch, pygmy seahorses, gobies, clams, shrimps, ghost pipefish and pelagic visitors such as manta rays, turtles, and dogfin tuna. The protected fjords offer a profusion of coral formations and sponges.
Planet Rock, Madang:
A seamount here rises from the depths to within 4 metres/12 feet of the surface. Barracuda, tuna and white-tip reef sharks, as well as the occasional school of hammerhead, patrol the over the reef's coral formations.
Magic Passage, Madang:
This reef comes alive when the tidal current flows in from the open sea. The sandy-bottomed passage is 23 metres/75 feet deep and the walls on both sides boast barrel sponges, green-tree corals, sea fans, soft corals, and sea whips. Sweetlips line up on the bottom facing the incoming tide, while schools of big eye trevally circle above.
Drift along the reef wall covered with sea stars and stag coral, then enter a vertical hole in the reef at 18 metres/60 feet. Look for big-eye trevally and a colony of anemone fish and clown fish at Clown Town.
Tania's Reef, Tawali:
A large coral mount rises from 42 metres/140 feet to just 2.5 metres/8 feet from the surface. Swim the full circumference of the reef, enjoying soft corals and the schools of fish feeding off the wall face. Look for giant clams and turtles.
Cobb's Cliff, Tawali:
A steep drop-off plunges to 45 metres/150 feet on one side of the reef, sheltering a 18-metre/60-foot-deep sandy lagoon on the other side. Look for manta rays and hammerhead sharks, as well as leaf scorpionfish, blue ribbon eels, and fire gobies.
Wahoo Point, Tawali:
A shelf at this site plummets over 60 metres/200 feet. Pelagic visitors include hammerhead sharks and manta rays, as well as the occasional whale sharks, dwarf minke whale or orca. The site also hosts a variety of anenomes, schooling barracuda, and large elephant ear sponges.
This dive features cleaning stations, octopus, the occasional mimic octopus, blue ribbon eels, cuttlefish, lionfish, nudibranchs, mantis shrimp, mandarinfish, frogfish, seahorses, ghost pipefish, cockatoo wasp fish, large sea fans.
Crinoid City, Tawali:
A coral mound rises from a depth of 36 metres/120 feet, covered with a wide variety of crinoids. Look for black coral trees and schools of fusiliers, anthias and jacks.
Pelagic Point, Tawali:
Strong currents at this site attract large quantities of fish that patrol the steep wall dropping off to 40 metres/130 feet. Look for crabs, rays and visiting sharks.