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.
Loloata – Bootless Bay 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 its weather pattern is monsoonal with distinct wet and dry seasons and “doldrum” periods in between.
In the Port Moresby area the wet season starts in late December and goes through to early April. Typically the seas are reasonably calm during those months, but the visibility does decline as it progresses because of the run-off from the rain.
Then from late April, for about 4-5 weeks to the end of May, the doldrum period sets in with calm seas and steadily improving visibility.
The dry season arrives around the start of June and goes through to early October – bringing with it the south-easterly trade winds and the potential for choppy seas… but the lack of rain means that the underwater visibility continues to improve.
The doldrums return again in late October and for about two months the diving is at its very best with calm seas and excellent visibility.
Overall it is possible to dive from Loloata all year round because even in the worst weather certain sites are still accessible.
Water temperatures range from a low of about 23 deg C (75F) in August and September when a 5mm wetsuit is recommended, up to 30 deg C in March and April when a dive skin is probably enough.
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