Expedition Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Unnamed Island - Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has always been wild and wooly and even into the 21st century much hasn’t changed. The numbers are stunning with over four million people living within 200 cultures speaking 800 languages. Social structure remains relatively intact to that of days past and traditions are still an important part of daily life. To reach anywhere on the island by plane, you’ll fly into Port Moresby. Port M is definitely a town in which you want to be off the streets at night and tucked inside your hotel room. Once outside of the capital city, the island nation hosts a plethora of adventure above and below the water.

Papua New Guinea Facts

If you want cool things to do in PNG, check out the next section. If you are looking for facts and figures, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papua_New_Guinea

Adventure

The adventure life comes in many styles in the PNG. Some of our favorite things to do include:

  1. Dive Dive Dive. Scuba diving in Papua New Guinea is our favorite thing to do!
  2. Stay at Loloata island. This is a great alternative to an overnight in Port Moresby. The island is located thirty minutes from the airport and then a short boat ride to the island. It’s laid back atmosphere will immediately begin to relax you from the long plane ride to get to PNG. Dik Knight, the owner will regal you with stories! If you have a couple of days, stay and dive…..if Rhinopius is what you seek, look no further!
  3. Shop at PNG Arts. Normally, we wouldn’t consider shopping adventure but PNG Arts in Port Moresby is an outstanding and huge warehouse literally stuffed with masks, story boards, carved statues, painting and any craft you can imagine from the New Guinea highlands.
  4. Check out the Volcano at Rabul!- An awe inspiring site, the Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanos are two of the most active pyroclastic shield volcanos on Earth. Get close and hear them rumbling and watch the ever rising cloud of smoke and ash. I bet you don’t sleep well that night!
  5. Be the guest of honor at a Sing-Sing. Or at least attend one. A Sing Sing is a gathering of local villages or tribes for the purpose of sharing traditions. It’s a night to remember for sure!!
  6. Try Betel Nut – The chewing of betel nut is a national pastime in PNG, though the locals call it buai (boo-eye). It has a mild stimulant effect IF you can chew it long enough. The nut is removed from it’s shell, often wrapped in the leaf and sprinkled with lime (as in coral lime not the citrus). The effect, beside the stimulant is orange teeth. The majority of the population of the island have orange stained teeth! Yes, a proven carcinogen. Help!!! We need dentists here!
  7. Visit local villages – There are some amazing villages and people in PNG and you should take any opportunity you have to visit them. And this one time (at band camp) we went to a school on a remote island and Sharkman juggled for the kids and taught them how. It was really super cool!
  8. Muck Dive- Yes, the term has become almost ubiquitous for any site without a pretty reef but TRUE muck diving in volcanic sand really started in PNG and will reward you with critters that belong on the pages of Dr. Seuss!!
  9. Visit the Highlands- Parts of the Highlands remain as untouched as they were when they were discovered back in the 1930’s and yes, there are still some remote villagers who have not seen white man. You can fly in to Mt. Hagen and do the touristy thing or truly get out into the remote areas and climb, raft and hike. Climbers can even be rewarded with snow on the peaks. Mt Wilhelm is the highest peak at 4509 meters. Only a 3-4 day non technical climb….

PNG Seasonality

In general, Late December-April is the wet season but with calm seas and visibility underwater on the decline. April and May the seas generally remain calm and visibility begins to clear. June through early October is the dry but windy season creating bumpy seas but good vis. Late October-early December is back to the doldrums with calm conditions and good vis (my favorite season in PNG). Water temps range from 76-86 depending on the season.

Our favorite dive areas include:

  • Southern New Britain Island- We had the opportunity to be the first to explore the sites on the southern side of New Britain island where we were rewarded with HUGE intact sea fans, great critters and fab soft coral action in the currents! Live aboard only.
  • Fathers and Witu Reef- Again, most of these sites are live aboard only but you can do some of the closer in site from Walindi. However, we found the diving further out from Walindi much clearer with better critters.
  • Milne Bay- This area on the southeast side of PNG is accessed from the small village of Alotau, just a one hour plane hop from Port Moresby. This is muck diving at it’s finest AS WELL AS some amazing bommies (pinnacles) with heaps of fish, sharks and sometimes mantas. Milne Bay truly has the spectrum. It can be dived from both live aboards and a couple of land based resorts.
  • Loloata- Just 30 minutes from the airport, Loloata on the Coral Sea side of PNG isn’t the prettiest diving I’ve done but if you are after critters such as ornate ghost pipefish and the weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopius) this is a GREAT stop off on the way to other dive areas.
  • Duke of York Islands- You know how there are certain dive sites that just stick out for-ever in your mind. Diving in this area was one of those special special places. The water was so clear we could see forever and the entire undulating reef and sand structure was laid bare before us. I can still today picture in detail the reef. I LOVE this area.