Internationally Papua New Guinea is now one the most acclaimed dive destinations with incalculable possibilities for scuba adventures in its warm Coral, Solomon, and Bismarck Seas. Facilities have come on a long way over the past decade with five-star dive hubs like Walindi Plantation Resort accessing the fabulous Kimbe Bay, PADI training courses, and a hyperbaric chamber back in Port Moresby. A proliferation of liveaboards also ensures longer multi-dive adventures for 7-10 days at a time.
For a fascinating combination of wrecks and reefs, Rabaul in East New Britain Province has an irresistible array of dives set to the magnificent backdrop of an active volcano. There is an eerie WWII wreck dive to the Italy Maru a colossal 5,859 tonnes freighter sunk by the Americans in 1942, while amid steep coral wall dives you might encounter pygmy seahorses.
How to do it: Dive Worldwide
The most exotic drawcard in the birding world is Papua New Guinea’s fanciful collection of birds-of-paradise. The 38 species found on the island are preening vainglorious creatures with the feathered finesse of glam rockers and the colour coordination of a child just discovering clothes. Optimal time to see them is during June-October outside of the rainy season and timed to hopefully experience the males’ elaborate courtship dances. This can involve anything from dangling upside down off branches, as is the wont of the Blue bird-of-paradise, or the Superb bird-of-paradise’s predilection for transmogrifying into an alien spaceship.
Yet they can take some finding deep in the forests. So to increase your odds a recommended stay would be Ambua Lodge in the Tari Valley where the moist mountain forests host 15 species. Sightings with the lodge’s qualified guides of Raggiana bird-of-paradise and Princess Stephanie’s astrapia, will live long in the memory.
How to do it: Ambua Lodge
Papua New Guinea is fast acquiring a cult status among pioneering surfers seeking uncrowded waves and awesome breaks. Current hotspots are found along the northern coast of the mainland at Vanimo, Wewak, and Madang: best enjoyed when the surf is whipped up during the monsoonal months of October to April. An added attraction is being able to surf in all day as sea temperatures rarely dip below 26ºC.
A particularly cool surfing spot for those in the know is Kavieng on New Ireland Island. Nusa Island Retreat is a laidback eco-friendly resort that receives a constant North Pacific swell driving surf of around 2-4ft consistently during the November to April monsoon swell although 6-8ft waves can be picked up at different breaks around the island. When the surfing tires the local diving and deep-sea fishing is epic.
How to do it: Nusa Island Retreat
Given the River Sepik’s unique cultural landscape there is very little river traffic for arriving tourists. For the adventurous it’s possible to kayak or canoe by dugout with a local guide. Believe me. I spent a week messing around here in a dugout back in 2013 during the most exciting river journey of my life.
River adventurers will discover the extraordinary customs of myriad tribes inhabiting this mighty river. Villages still retain male spirit houses that are highly symbolic for their animist religion and males practice skin scarification to resemble crocodile hides in painful ceremonies to revere the Sepik scared reptile. The best chance to arrange such an adventure is around the East Sepik Province out of Wewak where canoe trips can be organised from Ambunti Lodge.
How to do it: Melanesian Adventure Tours