Although overshadowed and usually overlooked by divers passing through on their way to Milne Bay, New Britain or New Ireland and, contrary to what you would expect so close to a capital city, diving Port Moresby and Bootless Bay really is something you should factor in to a trip to Papua New Guinea.
There are some really good dive sites, particularly out in Bootless Bay, which can be simply stunning in the right conditions.
The diving does have a distinctly “local” flavor, as there is a strong following from the expats based in the capital. Club based recreational scuba diving began back in 1962 when a group of ex-pats formed the Port Moresby Underwater Club (PMUC).
PMUC was eventually replaced by the Port Moresby Sub-Aqua Club (POMSAC) in 1975, which is still in existence to this day as part of the Royal Papua Yacht Club and, together with the Dive Center run by long time PNG resident John Miller, services the local diving community.
Loloata Resort in nearby Bootless Bay has a firmly established international reputation based largely on critter diving and being able to almost guarantee showing divers & underwater photographers the rare & beautiful Rhinopias.
The Rhinopias aphane – or Merlet’s scorpion fish to give it it’s common name – was only discovered in 1973 in New Caledonia, and the second find was made by Dinah Halstead in 1980 on the offshore Sunken Barrier Reef some 5 nautical miles from Port Moresby.
Commercial recreational scuba diving began in 1977 when Bob & Dinah Halstead launched Tropical Diving Adventures based from Bootless Bay using the 8.5m boat the MV Solatai.
Bob & Dinah are synonymous with scuba diving in PNG, mainly because of their exploits in Milne Bay aboard their boat the MV Telita, but before they moved down the coast in 1986 they probably did more than any other individuals to explore, document and popularize the diving around Port Moresby.
Together with the Port Moresby Sun-Aqua Club, Bob & Dinah were instrumental in sinking the MV Parama, MV Jade and the Pacific Gas wrecks at Horseshoe Reef, which have become great dive sites – particularly the Pacific Gas.
All this and much more has been documented superbly by long time Port Moresby diver Neil Whiting in his excellent book the Wrecks & Reefs of Port Moresby.
So while Port Moresby may not be at the top of your “bucket list”, do not dismiss it as somewhere you need to transit through as quickly as possible, because it really does offer some very good diving and a great way to break up the journey to your final destination
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