The Main Scuba Diving Locations in PNG

Papua New Guinea is a big and very diverse country that is spread out over a large geographical area… Without doubt there is some tremendous diving to be had there, but to understand where to go and what is there, it is best to group the main scuba diving locations in PNG in to four distinct areas

Map of the main scuba diving locations in Papua New Guinea

Map of the main scuba diving locations in PNG

First there is the  main island of New Guinea, with good diving near the capital Port Moresby on the south coast, plus Tufi on the north-east coast and Madang up in the north-west. Then there is Milne Bay, centered around Alotau on the eastern tip of New Guinea plus the other islands of Milne Bay Province.

Going east into the island provinces of PNG there is the large island of New Britain and the diving on the north-east coast, centered around Kimbe Bay and Rabaul, plus the remote south-east of the island.

Finally there is Kavieng at the north-west tip of the chain of islands that make up New Ireland Province.

The Main Locations – New Guinea

There are four significant diving locations on the main island of New Guinea, all of which offer some really great diving. The following brief descriptions contain links to take you to the starting page of each location and at the bottom of that page you will find links forward to the next page or backwards to the previous page.

Alternatively you can use the Locations tab on the menu bar above and navigate to your preferred destination, or click on the locations displayed on the sidebar on the right-hand side of this page.

Port Moresby & Bootless Bay

Port Moresby aerial photograph

Port Moresby – Courtesy Rocky Roe and Neil Whiting

Contrary to what you might expect so close to a capital city, the scuba diving around Port Moresby is actually very good and at times simply excellent.

Often overlooked by diving tourists passing through on their way to Milne Bay, New Britain or New Ireland, a stop over in Port Moresby gives you the chance to sample the local diving and the sites in Bootless Bay and the offshore reefs.

Two sites in Bootless Bay that should be in every diver’s logbook are Suzies Bommie and the Pacific Gas shipwreck, both of which are world-class in the right conditions!

My recommendation would be to avoid Port Moresby completely and stay at Loloata Resort, particularly if your trip coincides with the peak diving season of November & early December when the conditions are usually at their very best.

Link To: Diving Port Moresby and Bootless Bay

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Milne Bay

Milne Bat elephant ear pong

Milne Bay at it’s best…

This is the place that put Papua New Guinea on the international scuba map.

Initially largely because of Bob & Dinah Halstead and their exploits there in their boat the MV Telita.

But other adventurers soon followed such as Rob van der Loos and his boat the MV Chertan and Craig de Wit on MV Golden Dawn

These days Bob & Dinah have sold their business and moved on, but Bob still leads occasional charters on Golden Dawn, which now does Milne Bay in March, June & October.

MV Chertan concentrates solely on the Milne Bay area and operates in conjunction with the Tawali Resort on the north coast of the province.

It is also possible to dive the incredible B17 Black Jack aircraft wreck from Milne Bay – one of the “must-do” dives in Papua New Guinea

Link To: Milne Bay Province Overview

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Tufi

Beautiful Tufi

Located in remote Oro Province and universally know as “Beautiful Tufi”, this area of PNG is as scenic underwater as it is above, and is one of my favorite places in PNG.

Tufi literally has something for everyone!

Above water the scenic fiords are really quite unique and visually spectacular.

The local villages are very welcoming in an open & friendly manner and offer some great experiences staying in the village guest houses.

Isolated by on the east coast by the Owen-Stanley mountain range, Tufi is only accessible by plane or ferry from Port Moresby.

Below water there is the critter diving right off the dive jetty in Tufi fiord and then offshore there are a series of excellent reefs that are only visited by divers from the resort. I have literally spent weeks diving and exploring Tufi and it’s surroundings and never tire of it!

Link To: Tufi and Oro Province Overview

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Madang & Wewak

Map of Madang and Wewak

This is an area of PNG I have yet to explore, but I have heard a lot of good things about it and it is very much on my “to do” list.

But, for now, I can only point you in the direction of those who I know have dived the area.

Jan Messersmith was a long-term resident of Madang and ran an excellent blog on the area & life in general called Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

Jan has now moved back to the USA, but his blog is still a great source of local information on Madang. Also, Golden Dawn bases itself in that general area from June through to September.

Finally, although I have never dived with them, Melanesian Tourist Services have extensive operations in the area and offer diving as part of their overall portfolio through Nuigini Dive Adventures.

Link To: Jan Messersmith’s blog

Link To: Golden Dawn’s Madang Page

Link To: Nuigini Dive Adventures

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The Main Locations – New Britain

There are three significant diving locations on the large island of New Britain and the following brief descriptions contain links to take you to the starting page of each location and at the bottom of that page you will find links forward to the next page or backwards to the previous page.

Kimbe Bay

Kimbe Bay Locals….

The Kimbe Bay area is to New Britain what the Milne Bay area is to the main island of New Guinea, and offers a similar diversity of great sites and superb marine life.

There are numerous excellent sites in Kimbe Bay itself and then to  the northwest are the remote Witu group of volcanic islands and the unique Garove Harbour located in the crater of an extinct submerged volcano.

Then to the northeast, along the northern coast line of New Britain, are the series of off shore reefs called The Fathers which are the sunken remains of a huge extinct volcanic caldera.

Like Milne Bay, Kimbe Bay also a unique WWII aircraft wreck site with the beautifully preserved Mitsubishi Zero Wreck.

Link To: Kimbe Bay Overview

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Rabaul & the Duke of York Islands

Rabaul’s Superb Simpson Harbor

Rabaul is located on the rim of a huge caldera that forms a superb natural Simpson Harbor and is the last resting place of an estimated 54 Japanese WWII wrecks.

Around the rim of the caldera are six large volcanoes.

Rabaul was universally acknowledged as the wreck diving capital of PNG until September 1994, when two of those volcanoes erupted.

The eastern part of the town was basically decimated and many of the best wrecks covered with grey volcanic ash, but time is a great healer and many of the wrecks can now be dived again.

The wreck diving in and around Simpson Harbor, combined with the excellent Duke of York islands some 30km to the east, makes the Rabaul area prime diving real estate!

Link To: (Page under construction)

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The South Coast

South Coast Coral Bommie

The south coast of the eastern half of New Britain is what you might call a remote location.

There is only one logging road over the mountainous hinterland from the north coast of the island and there are no airports – so the only way to access the south coast is by boat.

The MV Febrina, based from Walindi in Kimbe Bay, is the only boat to visit the south coast on a regular basis.

That mountain range that separates the north coast from the south creates the specific weather patterns of New Britain, whereby the south coast is opposite to the north.

So when it’s the wet season in the north it’s the dry in the south…

Link To: (Page under construction)

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Main PNG Locations – New Ireland

The Deep Pete Wreck near Kavieng in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

The Deep Pete Wreck near Kavieng

New Ireland Province lays at the far eastern end of the Bismarck Archipelago.

The province is world-famous for its unique Malagan carvings and traditional culture.

Divers know the area for its WWII wrecks, large pelafics and the big currents that sweep through its northern islands.

While surfers travel to New Ireland between late October and April to enjoy the swells coming in from the north-west and north-east and the 4-6ft swell they produce.

The province consists of the large main island of New Ireland and numerous other smaller islands, the largest of which is New Hanover.

The diving is concentrated around Kavieng on the Pacific Ocean side of north New Ireland and is mainly wreck diving. While over on the Bismarck Sea side it is mainly reef diving.

New Hanover offers more Japanese WWII wrecks plus some tremendous reefs, but the area is rarely dived so if you get the chance to go there – just do it!

Link To: New Ireland Province Overview

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