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Think of this country – the largest in Melanesia, in the Southwest Pacific – and tribal masks are likely to be among the first images your mind conjures up. That’s because these artifacts have been made there, then, sold and exhibited everywhere else from national museums to art stalls at your local weekend farmers’ market. Papua New Guinea has thousands of kin groups and – although English is its official language – an equal number of tongues. It is one of the few remaining countries on the planet that in some rural areas, traditional ancient ways of life still thrive, undisturbed by outsiders.
“PNG” as it’s commonly called, has been independent since 1975. While it has a modern and developed capital city, Port Moresby, there are a good number of outlying areas and islands which retain their rustic and rugged nature. The country’s resistance to overdevelop some coastal areas means spectacular and pristine diving in the heart of the Coral Triangle – the area whose apex is the Philippines, whose sides and base also include Malaysia and Indonesia and is categorized by scientists as having the world’s most diverse marine biological life.
Dive operators based in Port Moresby make runs out to Bootless Bay to explore bommies and wrecks and make muck dives for small critters. From Madang, a two-hour flight north of the capital, land-based resorts’ dive vessels venture out to small nearby islands for wrecks and gorgeous reefs populated by barracudas and sharks. In Alotau, a two-hour flight southeast of Port Moresby, live-aboard boats make journeys into breathtaking Milne Bay, on the Coral Sea.
Even farther east from the capital, there’s more incredible diving to be done off the islands of New Ireland and New Britain. New Ireland features World War II wrecks and pelagics, while colorful reefs line the north and south coasts of New Britain. Live-aboards on that island depart from the cities of Rabaul, Hoskins and Kimbe. But it’s the southern side of New Britain that tempts wide-angle photographers with sites full of schooling barracuda and jacks and macro photographers with cleaning stations and seamounts.
No doubt, PNG is a photographer’s dream, both underwater and on land. That’s why you won’t want to miss shore excursions from your resort or live-aboard boat to traditional rural village markets, World War II battle sites and other locations. Scuba Travel Ventures will find the right resort and live-aboard accommodations for you in Papua New Guinea that will help you have an unforgettable experience here.