Diving Papua New Guinea: New Britain – Kimbe Bay Overview

Map of New Britain Province

Kimbe Bay is located roughly one third of the way along the north coast of New Britain – the largest of the 200+ islands which form the Bismarck Archipelago and part of the southern ridge of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

The islands of the archipelago were formed some 8-10 million years ago as a result of what geologists refer rather mildly to as ‘tectonic uplift’ along the Ring of Fire.

In the case of New Britain, those tectonic uplifts produced a series of mountain ranges that run along the spine of the island and are so high, they effectively isolate the north coast from the south.

The resulting weather patterns mean that while the north coast follows the normal monsoonal seasons, the south coast on the other hand is completely opposite.

So when it is the dry season along the north coast, it is the wet season on the south coast – a quirk of nature that has significant impact on when to dive the remote south…

The huge mountain ranges also create a partial rain shadow over the north, directing more precipitation on to the south coast and making it the second wettest place on earth, with annual rainfalls of between 6-8m!

Diving Papua New Guinea: New Britain – Kimbe Bay’s Volcanoes

The flight to Kimbe Bay takes you over the Willaumez Peninsular, which forms the western boundary of Kimbe Bay, and provides a spectacular introduction to another visually defining feature of this part of New Britain – volcanoes…

On the tip of the peninsular are two large freshwater lakes occupying the huge caldera left by the massive eruption of the Dakataua volcano some 1150 years ago and then dotted along the long and narrow isthmus are three smaller volcanoes.

The final approach in to Hoskins Airport is overshadowed by the large Mount Pago volcano, and its two smaller siblings, whose periodic rumblings provide very poignant reminders of the powerful seismic phenomena far underground that created those tectonic uplifts.

Volcano map of Kimbe Bay

Map of Kimbe Bay and its many volcanoes

Map of Kimbe Bay’s Volcanoes – Image courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Sunrises and sunsets can be simply spectacular in Kimbe Bay and the volcanoes in the distance add a very nice touch of drama to the overall scene.

Sunrise in Kimbe Bay

Kimbe Bay Sunrise

Diving Papua New Guinea: New Britain – When to dive Kimbe Bay

Kimbe Bay is protected from extreme weather by its unique topography and access to the reef systems is available throughout the year, although the conditions do vary.

September – November: Calm seas and superb visibility in the range of 25m+, but slightly colder water at around 27 deg C.

December: Changeable…

January – March: The wet season in Kimbe Bay brings very calm waters, but lower visibility around 15m and an average water temperature of 29 deg C.

May – June: The doldrums – calm seas with clear skies and almost no wind. Water temperatures are warmer at around 31 deg C and good 20m+ visibility.

July – August: The monsoonal SE trade wind season with gusts up to 20 knots. Seas can reach up to 1m and the water temperature starts to drop – visibility is around 15m

Next Page: Kimbe Bay’s Biodiversity

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Download: Coral Crucible Kimbe Bay Article