Diving Port Moresby. While usually overshadowed and overlooked by divers passing through on their way to Milne Bay, Kimbe Bay in or Kavieng. And, contrary to what you might expect so close to a capital city, there really is some very good diving in the Moresby area.
The best dive sites are concentrated along the offshore and sunken barrier reefs. Many of which can be stunning in the right conditions.
Diving Port Moresby does have a distinctly “local” flavor. As there is a strong following from the expats based in the capital. With recreational scuba diving starting way back in 1962 when the Port Moresby Underwater Club (PMUC) was formed.
PMUC has long gone, replaced by the Port Moresby Sub-Aqua Club (POMSAC) in 1975. Which is still going strong 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 enjoyed a strong reputation for many years with the international diving community. Principally because it is as a great place to see and photograph the quite rare and very beautiful Rhinopias. But unfortunately the resort has been sold and it seems that the new owners may not offer scuba diving.
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 and 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 POMSAC, Bob and Dinah were instrumental in sinking the MV Parama, MV Jade and the Pacific Gas wrecks at Horseshoe Reef. All of 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.
Diving Port Moresby – When to Go?
Papua New Guinea’s location just south of the equator means that its weather pattern is monsoonal. It has 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.
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.