Diving in Papua New Guinea
One of the most bio-diverse dive destinations on the planet,
PNG as Papua New Guinea is known among divers, has mind-boggling diving from muck critters to wrecks to big animals spread out among its more than 600 islands. New Britain, New Ireland, and the main island of Papua New Guinea provide the main launch points for divers, but with more than 17,000 square miles of reef system, new discoveries will continue for years and a lifetime could be devoted to the diving that is already known.
Diving is done off most of the coasts and island, but dive infrastructure or live-aboards have defined the main areas that diving commonly takes place.
Long a favorite among professional photographers and the savvy divers set, Milne Bay, which encompasses the northeast tip of the PNG, hosts a who’s who of ultimate dive sites. More than 1200 species of all kinds roam the reefs here, from jaw-droppers like blue ribbon eels, mimic octopus, ghost pipefish, weedy scorpoinfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, stargazers, pygmy seahorses and a dazzling variety of nudibranchs and other invertebrates. Top sites include Deacons, Lauadi, Observation Point, Wahoo Reef and Little China. Although, any site you’ll dive here will go under the world-class column of your life list.
For more exploratory-type diving, the island of New Britain yields new discoveries each year. Kimbe Bay, which has the dive resort of Walindi Plantation, and is dived by several live-aboards includes a multitude of dive sites, with an abundance of corals and sponges. These prolific reefs have been hailed as the Coral Capital of the World, among which more than 900 species of fish have been recorded, including a range of sharks and pelagics, WWI plane wrecks, all the way down to freaky mushroom coral and Honshu pipefish.
Another hotspot is Kavieng and Madang on New Ireland Island. World-class diving abounds, with sensational reefs that are noted for their startling colors and diversity. Exciting and relatively unknown diving can be found of Bagbag island. And one trip to Planet Rock off Madang will keep your imagination humming for years, as strong currents bring in sharks, tornadoes of barracuda, trevally and zillions of smaller schooling fish. Most of the diving here has remained unchanged for hundreds of years and the new species crop up with astounding frequency.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: All U.S. citizens are required to present a valid passport with at least 6 months validity beyond the departure date from Papua New Guinea. Visas are no longer required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. EXIT REQUIREMENTS: All persons leaving the PNG, pay a Government Departure Tax of approximately USD $20, which is not included in your ticket.
Vaccinations are not required for entry into PNG. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at
Culture and Customs
Papua New Guinea has more than 850 unique, indigenous languages, spread among a population of approximately 7 million. It’s one of the more culturally diverse and least explored corners of the globe. Although cannibalism was once a common practice, it has not occurred since the 1960s, but the majority of the population lives a primitive lifestyle, which is rife with superstition and myth despite the efforts of missionaries. Most of the people that live in PNG live in small villages and live on subsistence farming. Hundreds of the countries ethnic groups have very little interaction with the outside world. And the result of this ethnic diversity is that culture is manifested in myriad forms — dance, mock warfare, woodcarving, music, ancestor worship, singing and more. Some of this unique and primitive culture can be experienced at Sing Sings in the highland above the Sepik River where tribes gather for ritualistic warfare in traditional dress that represents spirits, animals and legendary battles.
Electricity, Telephone and Internet Access
Electricity in Grenada is 240 volts, 50 cycles, so an adapter will be needed for US visitors. Some hotels have 110 adapters for hair dryers and shavers. The
country code for PNG is 675 and direct dial service is fast and clear. Check with your service provider for long distance/roaming information and costs. Internet service is available at sporadically at some hotels and internet cafes, but is slower than most world standards.
Bottled water is recommended throughout the country.
Language & Currency
English and Tok Pisin are the official languages, but most communication is via Tok Pisin. The local currency is the Papua New Guinea Kina (PGK) but U.S. dollars are accepted in most places. Check the currency rate here.
History, Art, and Culture
Human history has been dated to more than 50,000 years ago. The first Westerners to discover the region were Portuguese and Spanish explorers in the 16th century. There are people in the interior of the country that have never interacted with outsiders. Woodcarving from this region is world renowned for its craftsmanship, especially woodcarving from the Trobriand Islands. Black mahogany wood is especially prized. Also, wood masks carved to represent different ancestor spirits or deities. Depending upon region, men and/or women looking to get married must have a dowry of pigs, cash, or other items of value to get a spouse. Read more about PNG