All the diving at Loloata is conducted from two 9m aluminum-hulled catamarans, each capable of carrying up to 10 divers and there are a total of 19 accessible dive sites, ranging from nearby Lion Island to PJ’s Passage some 21 nautical miles away.
Most of the dive sites are on the offshore Nateara & Sunken Barrier Reefs and therefore exposed to the weather - particularly the ones on the outside of the reefs. Which means that they are best dived in the morning before the afternoon breezes start and a typical day consists of a two-tank morning trip, with a third dive available in the afternoon and night dives on request.
The boats leave the jetty at 08.00, and it takes between 40 & 60 minutes to get to the first site, the selection of which is based on the preferences of the divers that day and the prevailing weather. The second dive site is usually fairly close to the first and then the boats head back to the resort for lunch before the afternoon winds get too strong.
The afternoon & night dives are normally done at nearby Lion Island, which has various sheltered sites and a couple of small wrecks that are host to a variety of fish life & critters.
Map of the dive sites accessible from Loloata Dive Resort
Diving Papua New Guinea: Underwater Photography at Loloata
Loloata tends to promote itself as more of a critter diving location and emphasizes the fairly dependable availability of the very photgenic and quite rare Rhinopias. But while it’s true that it is possible to see a Rhinopias or two, plus pygmy seahorses and numerous other critters in Bootless Bay, there are also some great wide-angle photo-opportunities.
While most divers & underwater photographers will probably only spend a few days at Loloata the reality is that you could (and I have, twice…) spend a week diving there – such is the variety of the sites.
Underwater Image Gallery
Diving Papua New Guinea: When to Dive Loloata & Bootless Bay
Papua New Guinea’s location just south of the equator means that it is very much subject to the monsoonal weather patterns & seasons and in the Port Moresby & Bootless Bay area, from May to October the winds blow from the southeast, then from around mid December through to March the predominant winds are from the northwest.
When the southeasterlies are blowing, the usual pattern is that overnight the prevailing winds subside and the morning brings fairly calm conditions, but by around 11.00 the winds are back and starting to produce some heavy swells.
Diving is still possible on the sites on the sheltered side of the reefs, but it does not pay to linger too long as the ride back can be very bumpy…
Conditions are better during the northwest monsoon season and means the sites on the outer reef are much more accessible, but the optimum conditions are during the doldrum periods between the monsoon seasons and the one in November & early December is particularly good.
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