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By No owner — last modified Jun 12, 2018 05:51 PM

 Papua New Guinea - Profile


  • One of the most fascinating countries in the world, Papua New Guinea is definitely best visited by cruising boat. This not only gives one the opportunity to catch a glimpse of life in a society still following ancient ways, but also avoids the lawlessness that has affected the large towns (on the mainland) of this rich, but poorly managed, country. Outside of the main centres life is little changed and by using common sense one should be able to avoid the few hot spots of trouble (see security section below).
  • A cruise in Papua New Guinean waters has been for many people the highlight of their world cruise, and if one chooses one's itinerary carefully it is a country well worth visiting.
  • Over the years 1989-1997, the Bougainville region - in particular Bougainville Island - suffered great destruction of life and property during a civil war. The region is now self-governing and is attempting to break away from the rest of PNG. Consequently it has been abandoned by the main government and there is now no formal law and order in that part of the country.
  • Nissan Island (part of Bougainville to the north) is spectacular and welcomes cruisers visiting.
  • The Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby has its own secure marina and welcomes visiting yachts. A new cruising rally (Coral Sea Rally) in conjunction with the Cairns Yacht Club and Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron was established in 2017 to encourage more cruisers to visit PNG. There are a large number of locally owned yachts in Port Moresby, where facilities are generally good.
  • Lae is a mining and transport hub and as such has an abundance of industries that can assist in yachting repairs and maintenance. The Lae Yacht Club is developing a haul out facility (via Hydraulic Trailer) during 2017.
  • Rabaul, on New Britain Island, was always a popular spot among cruising yachts, many of whom used to spend the cyclone season in its landlocked harbour, which is the crater of a volcano. In recent years the town has suffered two destructive volcanic eruptions and sadly is now considered a dangerous port to visit.
  • Madang on the northern coast of New Guinea also has a well-protected harbour in an area scattered with islands, reefs and lagoons. Once a popular stop for Indonesia-bound yachts, it too is now considered a dangerous port to visit.
  • The best cruising in Papua New Guinea is found among the many islands to the east of the main island, where islanders still live a peaceful life and sail large traditional canoes for fishing and trading voyages.
  • Facilities in the smaller towns and outer islands are often basic. There are small boatyards with their own slipways dotted about the country, so one is never too far away should the need arise for some emergency repair. However, all essential spares should be carried on board and one should also provision the boat in one of the major centres before sailing to the islands, where little except a few locally grown vegetables is available.
  • Situated in the centre of the Asia-Pacific region, surrounded by the Coral, Bismarck and Solomon Seas, whose constant movements feed and enrich the marine environment, PNG has twice as many marine species as the waters of the Red Sea and an estimated 10 times as many as the Caribbean. Its diving has been rated the Top Dive Destination in the World in Rodale’s Scuba Diving Readers Choice Awards.

Last updated August 2017.


General Advice

It is important to check the latest security situation here using such sites as the U.K. FCO.

PNG has a high violent crime rate against both locals and foreigners. In recent years, the violence and unrest on the mainland appears to have spread to some of the previously untouched, outlying islands. Some of the areas where cruisers have experienced crime towards yachts are detailed below, and in the main these do tend to be armed and violent. Remember that you are a conspicuously rich visitor in a very poor neighbourhood.

In general, it is best to avoid any place large enough to have people who migrate there away from their clan/extended family (such as Madang, Kavieng, Rabaul, Port Moresby and Lae - predominantly mainland PNG). There is no dependable rule of law and the traditional system keeps people in check in small communities. Many can't find work in the towns and life becomes even more desperate.

As with any travel in PNG you must remain vigilant at all times. Be sure to lock everything, keep your eyes open to trouble and do not walk around at night. When at anchor, remove anything valuable from the deck and secure anything else, lock your hatches when off the boat and at night, and keep a bright light burning in the cockpit all night to deter boarders.

Don't let your security lapse because you think everyone is so friendly. Most Papua New Guineans are incredibly friendly and giving and this is an amazing place to cruise. But there are always going to be people struggling and desperate, and they are in those bigger towns, or close by.

Another point to note is women should be sensitive with their dress and short or skimpy attire could attract unwanted attention.

A great many cruisers spend months cruising around PNG with no problems at all. Always check the current situation before planning an itineray for PNG (see noonsite piracy reports for a history of security reports from cruisers.)

The best way to find out about changing conditions is to listen to the news, both Radio Australia and Radio New Zealand having good Overseas Services for the Pacific area, or by contacting one's high commission or embassy in Port Moresby, who are usually well informed.

Cruisers' Advice

Useful reports on security by cruisers who have been to PNG:

Yacht Adina visited PNG in 2015. Their sailing notes have a list of all the anchorages they visited and advice on security. They did a lot of research in planning their route and did not encounter any problems. Yacht Adina Papua New Guinea Anchorage is available on:

SY Kelaerin's thoughts and experiences re. yacht security in PNG and the Solomons following a 2014 visit.

SY Totem's useful security summary in their March 2013 report of 3 months cruising around PNG.

Areas where cruisers have experienced crime:

Main Island

Port Moresby and Lae have been particularly affected by the surge in criminality; however, the area around the yacht club in Port Moresby is relatively trouble-free.

Madang on the northern coast of New Guinea, a popular stop with cruisers on their way to Indonesia, is now reported to have increasing security problems similar to those afflicting Lae and Port Moresby. Locals regard it as a dangerous place.

Wewak, also on the north coast of mainland PNG, saw a yacht boarded by armed men with machetes and robbed in the presence of a military patrol in December 2015.

Theft from yachts is increasingly a risk on the islands east of the main island. Local knowledge and basic safety precautions are necessary.

New Ireland & New Britain

Safe anchorage can be found in a number of locations in New Ireland and New Britain. In Kavieng, New Ireland, anchorage off the Nusa Island Retreat on Nusalik Island provides a secure base although care should be taken in this port. In New Britain, local advice remains that anchorage at Rabaul and Kokopo cannot be recommended, as boardings and thefts continue to occur here. The Duke of York Islands, close to Kokopo, have several good anchorages, with local villagers keen to ensure the safety of their island group for travelling yachts.

Outer Islands

Lever Harbor, New Georgia: Attempted night time theft from cockpit, 2014.

It is strongly advised that yachts avoid the Manus area (Admiralty Group) as yachts visiting in September 2011 experienced threatening behaviour from local "officials" (see report adjacent).

Vessels travelling west or east to/from Kavieng in Papua New Guinea and Jayapura in Indonesia, a distance of some 670 nautical miles, should note refueling opportunities are limited. Manus is an option if fuel is needed.

Last updated August 2017.


The climate is tropical. From December to April is the north-west monsoon (rarely a sailing wind during this time., while the south-east monsoon is from May to December. Only the south-east of the country is affected by tropical cyclones, whose season is from December until March.

The best time for diving is during the dry season, which starts around April/ May and runs until early December.

Papau New Guinea Weather Forecast

A useful guide to South Pacific weather resources complied by a Noonsite contributor, Rory Garland.

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Main Ports

Bougainville: Buka * , Kieta *

Main Island: Alotau * , Daru * , Lae * , Madang * , Oro Bay (Dyke Ackland Bay) * , Port Moresby * , Samarai * , Vanimo * , Wewak *

New Britain Island: Kimbe * , Rabaul *

New Ireland: Feni Islands , Kavieng * , Lihir Island *

Other Outer Islands: Lorengau (Manus) * , Misima Island , Ninigo Islands , Nissan Island

* indicates port of entry

Mary Lafferty
Mary Lafferty says:
Jun 10, 2018 11:48 AM

May 2018: Checking out at Vanimo Papua New Guinea - a warning!

For cruising yachts intending to exit PNG at Vanimo we would like to share with you our recent check out experience there.
We entered PNG at Rabaul in May 2018 and issued a 30 day Visa on Arrival by the Immigration Officer at Kokopo International Airport. Customs informed us of the need for point to point check in at each port visited and we were issued with the appropriate documentation.
On our arrival in Vanimo we completed the customs check in as required. In light of the information sourced on Noonsite about security issues we introduced ourselves to the police who were very helpful and keen to make our stay a safe one.
After 6 days of an pleasant, uneventful stay we contacted Mr Stanly Gardiwilo, Immigration officer, to arrange a time to complete the formalities and what followed was a sad end to our visit.
We were subjected to verbal abuse of the worst kind, an extraordinary irrational tirade that included threats of extortion and seizure of our passports. Mr Gardiwilo refused to discuss the matter with Immigration in Rabaul or Customs in Vanimo. He refused to stamp our passports out because we had not come to see him on our arrival in Vanimo. (Immigration at Rabaul confirmed we were NOT required to visit immigration until exiting PNG)
We were told to ‘come back next week’ (after our visas had expired) and would then be fined in a court of law and could expect to be jailed! We would have been in a very precarious situation had it not been for the excellent work provided by the Australian High Commission in Port Morseby in liaising with relevant authorities on our behalf. We were also confined to our yacht while Mr Gardiwilo gave consideration to our situation overnight. Our passports were duly stamped the following morning and we left Vanimo. While not required, it would be prudent to visit Immigration if planning to stay in Vanimo to avoid the the very unexpected situation we found ourselves in.
A formal complaint has been made to the relevant authorities in the hope that it will benefit cruising yacht community.
Andrew Irwin Meredith Louey Mary Lafferty
Yacht Calamia

Neddy says:
Feb 13, 2018 11:35 PM

Clearing in Milne Bay, only Alotau for full clearing. Samurai have only Custom Clearing. Misima have a health officer that will give you Quarantine clearance, but its no good if you go to Rabul, Samarie take it in as good
More info [email protected]

svthyme says:
Jul 16, 2017 05:51 AM

For up to date information or connecting with sailors in Papua New Guinea great information is available from RPYC Sailing Division - make contact via their Facebook page:

Yanas says:
Mar 12, 2016 01:02 PM

Hello. I've been part of Katharsis II crew in july 2015 for PNG leg between Alotau and Madang. Our route was Alotau-Discovery Bay-Esa'ala-Dobu-Tewara-Kiriwina (Kaibola-Omarakana-Losuia)-Kokopo-Rabaul-Duke of York-Byrona Strait-Au-Bagabag-Madang. Most of this trail I have marked by Holux GPS. If anyone needs info pls contact me.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 08, 2015 05:47 PM

Read about SY INTI's project to distribute donated school supplies to remote areas in PNG and the Solomons adjacent, under "related news". If you are planning on cruising this part of the South Pacific, you can help.

simonbuk says:
Sep 17, 2015 07:52 AM

Hi Sue, thanks for your response. After being told that I could, then I couldn't by the same person in PNG consulate in Brisbane I found out that you can't get one on arrival if your arrive by yacht. Or you might but they would have to send it to Port Morseby and back. I have just got a visa in Brisbane, took a couple of weeks and a dozen emails to sort it out.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 01, 2015 07:39 AM

Hi Simon, as far as noonsite is aware, visitors arriving by yacht in PNG can only obtain visas on arrival at designated international port of entry, i.e. Port Moresby, Rabaul or Daru.

simonbuk says:
Aug 28, 2015 02:52 AM

Does anybody know whether you can obtain a visa on arrival if you arrive by boat into Bouganville ? I am a UK national.

Meillia Kee
Meillia Kee says:
Feb 08, 2015 12:52 PM

We sailed briefly through the P.N.G with our three kids aged 9,7 and 6 in Oct and Nov 2014. We had no difficulties. Please note we stopped at very few places due to time pressures. We used SV Totem's map to plan our route and followed the same precautions as in the Solomons. We stayed away from the mainland and bigger towns. We cleared in at Kavieng which was a very very simple straight forward process. We listened to advice from locals about where to anchor, where to leave our dinghy, that kind of thing and once again, as in the Solomons, either we were in the right places or we were lucky but we never had any cause for concern leaving our boat or at night. A major highlight was the Hermit Islands. If you go there stock up on bath towels as that was a item high on the ladies trading list when we visited! Clearance from Vanimo was relatively smooth.
A note on malaria precautions. If you wish to take meds doxycyclone for adults is available in many places but not Larium (or anything else) for kids. We got a prescription from a hospital doctor in Suva, Fiji. I thought we could get a repeat in Indonesia but it has proved impossible. We were kindly given some malaria tester kits that you can buy online by another 'kid boat'. We also brought treatment meds in Kavieng that were recommended by the guys at Nusa Resort. The pharmacist was great as she made up little kits for each member of the family with the correct doses for each person. So, we try to avoid being bitten by using deet lotion (called "Autan" in Papua and Maluku), long sleeves and trousers in the evening, trying to be back on board before dusk and mossie nets.
We enjoyed our short time P.N.G and are keen to return and spend much longer there.

Sherrinthesea says:
Nov 29, 2014 05:29 AM

Correct Procedure for Entrance Clearance in Rabaul/Kokopo.
It is very important that yachts follow the proper procedure for clearing into PNG through Kokopo/Rabaul. You must anchor by Rabaul so that Quarantine inspection can be carried out before you are cleared in with Immigration and Customs in Kokopo. The authorities are extremely concerned that yachts are not adhering to the correct procedures. The Quarantine man, Peter Johnson, said the best thing to do is to go to the Yacht Club and they will help yachts do things the right way. There was talk of fining us and another yacht who had not done things the wrong way round too. Rabaul is the official Port of Entry, not Kokopo.

Papua New Guinea
Main Island
New Britain Island
New Ireland
Other Outer Islands
Main Ports
Local Customs
Clearance Agents
General Info
Time Zone
Yachting Essentials
Opening Hours
Diplomatic Missions
Update History
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Papua New Guinea
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