If you had the opportunity to dive in warm crystal waters with abundant sea life, hundreds of wrecks and eye popping corals, in your own backyard, would you be interested? Still relatively unvisited, Papua New Guinea (PNG), in the marvellous Pacific Ocean offers some of the best diving in the world. Passionate divers looking for the best Papua New Guinea diving experience should consider a liveaboard. Both the MV Febrina and the MV Chertan dive cruises are ready to astound you with their incredible hospitality and seemingly impossible dive tour offerings in the generous PNG waters, showcasing possibilities only a liveaboard can offer.
Papua New Guinea itself is an extremely interesting, under visited country. Located on the eastern half of New Guinea Island, it has a population of almost 7 million. It consists of 4 regions, 852 languages and 20 provinces, with the majority of the people living in rural areas. It gained it’s independence from Australia in 1975 and continues to struggle. A developing country, most of it’s income is derived from natural resources such as gold, oil and copper, followed by renewable resources and agriculture.
Culturally diverse, PNG has over 1000 unique tribes, each having it’s own traditions and lifestyles. Art, housing, clothing, language, dancing and weapons vary from one village to the next. Huge areas remain undiscovered; new species are identified on a regular basis, leading one to believe there are so many more which are waiting to be catalogued; it is believed numerous isolated tribes / people remain hidden and uncontacted.
Not surprising, tourism is underdeveloped. It is estimated that approximately 70,000 people visit Papua New Guinea per year. Transportation infrastructure is sporadic except for the main tourist areas. Main visitor attractions include hiking, culture, markets, surfing and scuba diving. Liveaboards are the best way to see the latter, offering food, accommodations and numerous dive spots, below mentioned a few.
Dive Sites or Areas:
- New Britain – a volcanic island with incredible reefs, notably Kimbe Bay (see below). Rabaul, on the eastern part of the island, was destroyed by an eruption in 1994. Loaded with history, beautiful views and spectacular diving and snorkelling, it is a popular tourist destination and Papua New Guinea liveaboard favorite.
- Kimbe Bay – The shelter of the bay protection means calm, clear waters boasting huge corals. Dive tours of the MV Febrina offers numerous dive sites in Kimbe Bay, showcasing incredible marine life including walls, gardens, a japanese plane wreck and a myriad of fish.
- Witu Islands – a group of islands 60 kilometers NW of Kimbe Bay. For those who like night diving, these PNG islands offer amazing dives due to the incredible sea mounts and coral arches. Big fish hang out in this water filled volcanic crater so get your camera ready!
- Fathers Reefs – This remote destination, best reached with the liveaboard dive boat MV Febrina, encompasses several dive sites. Roll out of bed and tickle your senses in a fabulous early morning dive at Norman’s Knob. Sharks abound at Killibob’s Knob, steep walls greet you at Jayne’s Gully and Father’s Arch will intrigue and challenge the advanced diver.
- Milne Bay – is an internationally recognised dive paradise due to it’s biodiversity. The liveaboard MV Chertan spends her time here giving avid dive vacationers a trip to remember. Promises of spectacular diving become reality in Milne Bay which encompasses 7 groups of islands.
Of notable mention is the strange but true Muck diving. Resulting from Volcanic ash which has destroyed an original habitat, some creatures have learned to adapt and the result is some strange, weird and wonderful critters. Visibility is not usually so great, but the discoveries you come across as you comb through the silt will amaze and satisfy. Photographers love it, as much as experienced divers looking for a new kick. PGN boasts the original home of Muck Diving! Yet another reason to visit this diverse country.
Unfortunately, security is a serious issue in Papua New Guinea. Some areas have a scary amount of violence and crime; many areas recommend women not travel alone, and no one should be out at night. Homosexuality is still illegal and punishable by law. Once again, this points to vacationing on a liveaboard, offering the best of both worlds, diving and culture.
Illiteracy is dominant in PNG, with the majority of the population being uneducated; school is not compulsory. Due to lack of education and jobs, many people survive on a minimal income. Although awareness is cited as the reason why HIV and Aids are higher here than anywhere else in the Pacific, Malaria is the leading cause of death. The CDC recommends visitors to Papua New Guinea get vaccinated for Typhoid and Hepatitis A as the diseases can be acquired through contaminated food and water. In addition, they suggest talking to your doctor about Malaria prevention and medicine.
All of the above being said, people who have actually gotten to PNG say the experience is extraordinary, especially the underwater world. Certainly, the best way to view the underwater world is on a liveaboard; one island visitor says *“be prepared to bang your way out in an aluminium skiff for 30 – 45 minutes to get to a dive site. Very uncomfortable…” Organised dive tours aboard liveaboard boats remove the discomfort of banging aluminium skiffs, as well as eliminating land security issues.
Extremely satisfied divers have been visiting Papua New Guinea for years now, and all said, one thing is certain, it is a world class dive destination. As culturally diverse as the country itself, so is the biological underwater world. A guest of the MV Febrina said, **“Seriously, the abundance of fish large, small and weird is fabulous.”
Papua New Guinea should definitely be on your bucket list. Incredible culture, a land which has stood somewhat still in time, exotic, rugged and adventurous; offering spectacular diving, WW2 wrecks lost in time, 45000 kilometers of reef systems, underwater photo opportunities second to none and a diverse marine life featuring all things great and small. International flights arrive daily at the Jacksons International Airport (POM) with transfer to hotels and liveaboards direct. What are you waiting for? Make your next destination Papua New Guinea!
*Quote from scubaboard.com - user: natural dog (http://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/png-trip-report-short-mv-febrina-live-aboard-and-walindi-resort.415037/)
** Quote from user: Mermoose (http://www.bluewaterdivetravel.com/mv-febrina-liveaboard)
photo credit: People Of Papua New Guinea Part 17 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Karkar From New Guinea via photopin (license)
photo credit: Gadsup Friends via photopin (license)
photo credit: North Coast Sunrise via photopin Admiral Yamamoto’s Bunker via Tomato Clowns in Anemone via Barry Peters (license)
photo credit: Shark Feed via Barry Peters (license)
photo credit: Wreck Dive via Barry Peters (license)