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Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a land of natural wilderness, breathtaking landscapes and fascinating flora and fauna. The country is home to the largest area of intact rainforest outside of the Amazon and consists of 4 regions made up of 22 provinces and the National Capital District, each with their own special character and cultures, full of adventure, mystery, lost cultures, tropical jungles and high mountain ranges. Not to mention spectacular scuba diving sites.
Many relics from World War II remain, both on land and underwater, providing a great opportunity to scuba divers to explore famous ships and aircraft up close.
Culturally, PNG is extremely diverse with more than 800 indigenous languages. Melanesian Pidgin and Hiri Motu are the two most widely used, although English is the official language in education, businesses and government circles. Local customs, traditions, beliefs and ceremonies were handed down by the old to the young by word of mouth. There was no written language in PNG until contact with the Western world, which in some cases only occurred about 30 years ago.
Many people still live in small villages making a living from subsistence agriculture or as gardeners, fishers, hunters or craftspeople. Women are responsible for the household and village work, while men take care of hunting, trade and warfare. Most land is owned by a community or village.
Papua New Guinea lies entirely within the tropics, just south of the equator and 160 kilometres to the north of Australia. It is part of a great arc of mountains stretching from Asia, through Indonesia and into the South Pacific.
With a total land mass of about 473.189 sq.km, the country encompasses the eastern side of New Guinea Island, the second largest island in the world, and offers some of the most amazing geographical diversity.
There are some 600 islands, atolls and coral reefs. A central core of mountains, the Owen Stanley Range, runs east to west, rising steeply from the coastal plains. From its highest peaks such as 4,500 metre high Mt Wilhelm and from downs of other peaks, great rivers like the Sepik and Fly River begin their journey to the sea. Below the mountain chain, fertile coastal plains, flooded delta regions and mangrove swamps exist alongside broad white sandy beaches, colourful sheltered bays and dense rainforest.
Papua New Guinea is full of interesting attractions, magnificent natural scenery, and diverse cultural heritage. The rugged mountain terrain and deep cave systems offer wonderful travel adventure opportunities for walkers, cavers and climbers. Spend your Papua New Guinea holiday trekking the remote jungle tracks including the famous Kokoda Track.
There is also canoeing, kayaking and fishing on the river and delta system or cruising on the mighty Sepik River. Good surf can be found in New Ireland in season. Bird watching in the Highlands in search of the world-famous Birds of Paradise is a popular activity.
Papua New Guinea also enjoys some of the world's best diving and snorkeling around its warm coastal waters, with striking coral reefs around the mainland coast and the islands of the Bismarck Sea and the Milne Bay area.
Traditional Melanesian cultures are kept alive in elaborate rituals that accompany deaths, feasts, marriages, compensation ceremonies and initiation rites. Annual Sing Sing shows see villagers from around the country demonstrate their singing, dancing and elaborate bilas (traditional costumes). The shows at Goroka and Mount Hagen are among the country's most impressive, attracting thousands of spectators to Papua New Guinea each year.
Papua New Guinea boasts a warm to hot and humid climate throughout the year. Each province experiences a rainy season during the summer months, which varies from province to province. The country is generally at its driest from May to October. The wet season roughly runs from December to March. However, there are plenty of exceptions to this (for example, in Lae and Alotau the opposite occurs).
Temperatures in the lowlands and coastal areas are uniformly high most of the year. June to September can be cooler and drier. In the highlands, temperatures drop as low as 14°C at night.
Many of the country’s unforgettable cultural shows / festivals are held between July and October.
The average water temperature varies from 25ºC along the edge of the Coral Sea to 29ºC in the Bismarck Sea. One can dive in Papua New Guinea all year round, with the high season generally from May to November.
Please check each area for more destination specific information on When to Travel.
The coast of Papua New Guinea is home to some of the world's most spectacular diving - dubbed as the “underwater photographer's paradise”, with many international award-winning photos being taken in PNG waters. Exotic and still vastly unexplored, the thousands of coral atolls with their crystal clear blue waters abound in a myriad of spectacular marine life.
Divers enjoy a huge diversity of dive sites including barrier reefs, coral walls (drop offs), and coral gardens, patch reefs, fringing reefs, sea grass beds, coral atolls and wreck dives.
PNG has its own collection of WWII ships, aircraft and submarines offering some of the most fascinating underwater experiences. Amidst the reefs and schools of fish one encounters numerous wrecks, a reminder of the violence and struggle in which PNG participated during the tragic days of WWII. Wrecks of ships and planes (previously machines of destruction), now overgrown with corals rest at the bottom of the ocean floor and are home to many sea dwellers, presenting a display of serenity and colour.
The main destinations for scuba diving are New Britain Province (Rabaul, Walindi and Hoskins), New Ireland Province (Kavieng) and Madang. Papua New Guinea is also home to several liveaboard dive vessels that conduct diving expeditions to the more remote diving, wreck and snorkelling sites.
The ultimate way to experience the diverse array of diving Papua New Guinea has to offer is aboard one of the charter liveaboard vessels operating in these tropical waters.
Not only will you enjoy spectacular diving, you will have a chance to visit some remote villages and meet their people. Dive remote wrecks and dive sites in total comfort and safety. Liveaboards allow divers to experience the full range of what Papua New Guinea has to offer.
Kimbe Bay, Witu Islands, Fathers Reefs, Rabaul
Length: 22 metres
Max # of Guests: 12
No. Cabins: 7
|Approx dives per day: 4-5 dives
Nitrox: Yes (extra cost)
Tech Dive: No
|MV Golden Dawn
Eastern Fields / Coral Sea
Milne Bay and Louisade Archipelago
Length: 24 metres
Max # of Guests: 10
No. Cabins: 5
|Approx dives per day: up to 5 dives
Nitrox: Yes (extra cost)
Tech Dive: Yes incl rebreathers
Located just south of the equator and north of Australia, Papua New Guinea is only 3 hours by air from Brisbane. The international country code for Papua New Guinea is 675. Papua New Guinea is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
(subject to change)
Australian passport holders are required to obtain a free Tourist Visa prior to arrival in PNG. For faster processing turnaround contact the PNG consulate in Brisbane (07 3221 7915) or Sydney (02 9283 9020). Allow at least 15 working days (much longer for the PNG Consulate in Canberra) for your application to be processed and returned. Some restrictions apply to travelers from several Asian, Eastern European and African countries. Please check for the most up-to-date information before departure.
The currency of Papua New Guinea is the Kina. Travelers cheques and international credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants but not generally in the small towns.
1 AUD = approximately 1.9 Kina (August 2015)
Papua New Guinea offers some of the best diving in the world with an amazing array of colorful fish, corals and many wrecks from World War II. The average water temperature is 29°C so only a protective lycra or 3mm suit is needed. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.