Papua New Guinea is the destination of a lifetime: culturally rich and incredibly diverse, with a wealth of things to see and do. On the country’s 47th Independence Day anniversary, it’s time to answer that call for adventure and intrigue.
Check out the top 47 things to do when you travel in Papua New Guinea with this travel bucket list.
1. Challenge yourself by trekking the famous 96 kilometre Kokoda Trail. Short treks are also available from Ower’s Corner to Ioribaiwa Village. Visit the Kokoda Track Authority website for a list of licensed tour operators.
2. Snorkel, kayak or go scuba diving at Kimbe Bay with tours by Walindi Plantation Resort. The bay is home to over 96% of the Indo-Pacific region’s coral species.
3. In August and September every year, experience a spectacular highlands festival, such as the Enga Show, Goroka Show and Hagen Show.
4. Take the Twin Peaks challenge in Simbu and the Western Highlands. Climb the highest mountain in Oceania at 4,509 meters, Mount Wilhelm, then Mount Giluwe at 4,367 meters.
5. How about some off-grid surfing in Namatanai, New Ireland Province? Stay at the peaceful Rubio Plantation Retreat where nothing else matters but you and the ocean.
6. Heat things up at Mount Tavurvur for a historical volcano tour in Rabaul, East New Britain. Eat a delicious fresh wild fowl egg boiled at the Matupit Hot Springs.
7. If you love the naturally wild and weirdly wonderful, then you need to see the national bird – the Raggiana bird-of-paradise – in full display at the Varirata National Park.
8. Support local artisans, and buy png crafted products hand-made with love at the POM City Markets held every second Saturday and Sunday of each month at the grounds of the National Museum & Art Gallery.
9. The Sirunki Agro Farms in Enga Province provide the sweetest experience ever for strawberry and honey lovers.
10. Explore the founding of a nation at the Haus Independens museum, Downtown, Port Moresby.
11. Experience the best of Kawas hospitality at the Uruna Bay Retreat, Pokpok Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Try the fun-filled island hopping and water skiing activities on site.
12. The pristine waters and dazzling beaches of the Duke of York Islands in East New Britain await. Book a homestay with the friendly DOY islanders.
13. For you thespians who love drama, see some of PNG’s best actors hit the stage for at the Moresby Arts Theatre.
14. If you are a didiman and didimeri at heart, you will love the Morobe Show in November. See the amazing rodeo-style events and browse the variety of stalls showing off some of the best PNG crops in this part of the region.
15. There is nothing like seeing Port Moresby’s Fairfax harbour at night on board Sportfishing PNG’s K20 Yacht, especially if you love the finer things in life.
16. Pay homage to a bygone era at Bitapaka War Cemetery in East New Britain which holds timeless stories of heroism and sacrifice that should never be forgotten.
17. For the most scenic road trips in the country, the Boluminski Highway in New Ireland Province offers you an experience like no other – especially roadside attractions like the amazing Laraibina Eels and the Fissoa blue water hole.
18. The legend of the Asaro people is well-known throughout the country. Meet the descendants of these folklore legends at the Asaro Cultural Centre, Asaro village in the Eastern Highlands Province.
19. Awawi Falls is a must when you visit Sandaun (West Sepik) Province. This popular well-kept swimming spot has a canopied waterfall that offers a cool escape from the jungle heat.
20. Located in the heart of the nation’s capital is Port Moresby Nature Park, one of the country’s leading recreation parks connecting people and nature through education and conservation.
21. Did you know that Papua New Guineans were some of the world’s first farmers? The Kuk Early Agricultural Site in the Western Highlands is an archeological UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. Drainage systems and farming implements were found at this site dating back 9,000 years.
22. If you’re the kind of person who loves cool mountain walks, warm and friendly conversations by the fire, and home-cooked food then Betty’s Lodge at Mount Wilhelm, Simbu Province offers great hospitality for climbers and casual visitors.
23. Port Moresby city slickers can find a welcome retreat from urban life when visiting the Koitaki Country Club. Tee off on the golf green, or go horseback riding: there are a lot of things to do at Koitaki to while away the hours.
24. Beef connoisseurs visiting West New Britain should stop by the Numundo Beef abattoir along the New Britain highway. The best local beef in the country is found here.
25. It’s time to pamper yourself and take that boardwalk sunset selfie. Loloata Island Resort is a luxury island escape off Port Moresby – as a guest, you always come first here and the facilities are top-notch.
26. Turtle conservation at Lissenung Island Resort is an important feature of this private island paradise in New Ireland province. Join the effort to protect the future of hawksbill turtles in Papua New Guinea.
27. Ride an outrigger canoe across the geographical wonder of the Tufi fjords. What better place to experience this than at the Tufi Dive Resort, in the Oro (Northern) Province?
28. Those who love ‘garden kaikai‘ will love the fresh food at the Hagen Market. With flights from Port Moresby to Mount Hagen twice daily, here’s an opportunity to reward your body with the best vegetables and fruits from Papua New Guinea’s ‘food basket’ – the Western Highlands.
29. Game fishing enthusiasts will find some of the best fishing in Papua New Guinea. The lure-shy Papuan Black Bass is a mighty fish that is likely to test any seasoned fisherman’s mettle. It roams the river systems of the Gulf and Western Province. For that once-in-a-lifetime fishing adventure, contact Sportfishing PNG.
30. Local tour operators LaeAbout Tours offer a unique mangrove adventure along the Labu Lake in Morobe Province. This fun and educational tour allows visitors to navigate the mangroves, trek through the bushes and meet the locals, while learning the cultural values of the Labu people and their connection to their natural environment.
31. Unwind with friends at the Japanese Spy Bar, Paradise New Wewak Hotel in the East Sepik Province. Enjoy the locally themed cocktails: Wasara Mai Tai, Dagua Breeze, Wia Magarita, Maprik Martini and more!
32. A guided tour of the ancient Tawali Skull Caves is a must while staying at the Tawali Leisure & Dive Resort on the East Cape of Milne Bay Province. Your friendly local guide will share stories of long ago – taking you on a fascinating discovery of bizarre burial rituals and a war-mongering way of life that no longer exists.
33. Experience the magic of a night tour at the Walindi Plantation Resort, West New Britain. See the magnificent ‘firefly tree’ or catch a glimpse of the rare, nocturnal and endemic Golden Masked Owl.
34. Bibliophiles can find the best collection of books at the University Book Shop located at the University of Papua New Guinea, Waigani Campus in Port Moresby. Satiate your imagination and knowledge with remarkable works of PNG literature, with classics by authors Vincent Eri, Ignatius Kilage, Russell Soaba, John Kasaipwalova, Kumalau Tawali, Nora Vagi Brash and more.
35. Offering panoramic views of Mount Hagen town, in the Western Highlands Province is the boutique lodge Rondon Ridge, owned by Trans Niugini Tours. This beautiful hideaway provides charming accommodations and appetising meals. The lodge’s tropical surrounds present the perfect spot for guests to experience nature hikes, bird watching and cultural tours.
36. In the heart of the Sepik River, discover the Abelam People of Maprik and their fascinating masks celebrating yam harvests. Visit the Apangai village which has a special ceremonial house called Kurambu, which stores important ritual arts and crafts. Tours are available from local tour operators Sepik Adventure Tours which cover the length and breadth of the East Sepik Province.
37. Nusa Island Retreat in New Ireland Province is the perfect spot to relax and unwind. Just a short boat ride from Kavieng town, the retreat has comfortable beachfront bungalows, the best food in the New Guinea Islands region, and offers surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and game fishing.
38. As an architectural wonder blending the modern and traditional, the National Parliament House deserves a visit while you’re in the nation’s capital. Well manicured lawns, gardens, traditional sculptures and ponds are spread out over the grounds.
39. A haven for the humble cuscus and all manner of bird life in Manus Province is Mendrelin Island, part of the Pityiliu Islands. This is a wonderful spot for picnics and nature appreciation.
40. Milne Bay’s giant manta rays of Gonubalabala Island are a magnificent sight to behold. A seasonal cleaning station for large marine life, go diving to get up close and personal with these giant wonders of the deep as they rejuvenate in this natural underwater salon.
41. Spot the iridescent male Flame Bowerbird in the interior Highlands of southern Papua New Guinea. Book a tour with one of the best bird-watching tour guides in the country, Samuel Kepuknai and his team Kiunga Nature Tours.
42. National Remembrance Day every July 23 is a special day of observance in Papua New Guinea honouring the men and women who served during the World Wars and general peacekeeping missions in the country and abroad. Join in the national commemorations at the Ela Beach Memorial Park, and key war memorials in Rabaul, Kalibobo, Lae and Alotau.
43. You’ve probably heard how amazing and world-renowned scuba diving is in Papua New Guinea. It’s a technical activity that requires training, however, in Port Moresby, you can make your scuba diving dreams come true by taking up diving courses that will bring you a step closer to discovering the magic of diving. Contact PRO Dive PNG for scuba diving lessons.
44. Avid golfers will be impressed with the championship 18-hole golf course at the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club. Also available is a practice driving range plus a short game practice area for chipping and putting. Visit the Port Moresby Golf Club website for visitor entry fees.
45. Imagine a beachfront all to yourself and glorious ocean sunsets every day. Sepoe Village Guest House in the Gulf Province offers visitors a quaint escape from modern life. Enjoy endless swimming opportunities with the sea at your doorstep, short treks in nearby jungles, meeting the friendly local Sepoe villagers and sampling traditional Gulf dishes..
46. Let loose at the Lamana Gold Club, one of Papua New Guinea’s popular nightclubs in Port Moresby. Dance the night away with your friends in the adjoining outdoor club or enjoy a cold one with the indoor live band. Lamana is the place to party and boogie the night away.
47. Orchid lovers will find the National Orchid Gardens at 14-Mile on the outskirts of Port Moresby a visual treat. There are over 3,000 known species of orchids in Papua New Guinea, and you will be amazed at the variety, colour and uses of these phenomenal plants.
Kawas – endearing term for the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Didiman – male agricultural specialist or enthusiast
Didimeri – female agricultural specialist or enthusiast
Garden kaikai – fruits and vegetables grown locally