WHERE TO STAY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA: THE BEST RESORTS

If you’re an adventurous traveler looking for an epic surfing, diving, birdwatching or hiking experience then Papau New Guinea is the place for you. Called the ‘final frontier’ you will experience some raw, off-the-beaten-path adventures. However, picking the right location and resort is paramount to your experience as I found out on my trip to Papua New Guinea. In this blog post about the best places to stay in Papua New Guinea, I will share with you the best places for each type of traveler.

The blog will be broken up into five sections for the best specialty resorts and best hotels in PNG.

  • Best Hotels in Port Moresby (The base to access all adventures and the International Airport)
  • Best Resorts for scuba-diving
  • Best Resorts for bird-watching
  • Best Resorts for surfing
  • Additional accommodation in Lae

 

Just north of Australia lies Papua New Guinea, ‘The Land of Unexpected’! This country is located in the continent of Oceania and is divided into four regions: Highlands Region, Islands Region, Momase Region, and Southern Region. Papua New Guinea is known for its cultural traditions and epic scuba diving, trekking, bird watching, and surfing. The marine diversity is also incredible with beautiful corals as well as several shipwrecks and plane wrecks from World War II.  

Despite the small number of tourists, the country still offers some very luxurious and immersive accommodations. Whether you want to stay by the ocean, in the mountains, or an island, Papua New Guinea has a place for you. Do take note though that accommodation is limited, so it is not cheap because it is far from Western civilization.

 

In this blog post, I’ve handpicked two luxury and another two ‘value’ hotels in Port Moresby, six resorts for scuba diving, three lodges for bird watching, three accommodations for surfing, and several other hotels.

Here’s a little checklist to start!

  • If you are in Papua New Guinea for business and leisure, then Port Moresby in the Southern region is ideal for you.
  • If you are visiting to experience world-class diving, head to Madang (Momase Region) and Kimbe Bay, New Britain (Islands Region).
  • If you want to do bird watching and trekking, the Highlands Region (Mt. Hagen) is the perfect place for you.
  • If surfing is your thing, there’s a place in the North Shore, New Ireland and near Kavieng.

 

THE BEST RESORTS AND ACCOMMODATION IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

ACCOMMODATION REGION RATINGS RATE/NIGHT
Best hotels in Port Moresbey      
Grand Papua Hotel (Luxury) Port Moresby 8.1- Very Good $129
Airways Hotel (Luxury) Port Moresby 9.3- Superb $200
The Sanctuary Hotel Resort & Spa (Value) Port Moresby 9.1- Superb $127
Holiday Inn Express Port Moresby (Value) Port Moresby 8.2-Very Good $178
Best Dive Resorts
Madang Dive Resort Madang 8.2-Very Good $141
Walindi Plantation Resort Kimbe 8.7-Fabulous $292
Loloata Private Island Resort Loloata Island 9.4- Superb $226
Tawali Resort Milne Bay Province 8.9-Fabulous $86
Kabaira Beach Hideaway Rabaul, New Britain 9.0- Superb ?
Lissenung Island Resort Kavieng 9.0- superb ?
Best lodges for Birdwatching
Rondon Ridge Lodge Mt. Hagen    
Betty’s Lodge Mt. Hagen    
Ambua Lodge Hela Province    
Best resorts for surfing      
Nusa Island Retreat New, Ireland PNG    
Vanimo Surf Lodge Northern Coast PNG    
Rubio Plantation Retreat New Ireland PNG    
Other Recommendations      
Crossroads Hotel Lae Lae 8.3-Very Good $110
Hotel Morobe Lae 8.3-Very Good $147

 

Southern region: Port Moresby

Most people traveling in business or leisure stay in one of the following hotels in Port Moresby. It’s the main hub for travelers exploring Papua New Guinea. There are more hotels in the area and lots of attractions including Parliament Haus, Port Moresby Nature Park, Bomana War Cemetery, National Orchid Gardens, and so much more. Check out my personal luxury and value pick below:

 

Grand Papua Hotel (Luxury): This 5-star hotel is centrally located, a few minutes drive from Port Moresby International Airport and within easy access to everything including Ela Beach. If you’re up to something indulging, this is an excellent base before or after your Papua New Guinea exploration. The property features an infinity pool, a full-service spa, a hot tub, a sauna, in-house restaurants, a fitness center, and 2 bars. Each room and suite has everything that you could ask for including an iPod docking station but the panoramic ocean view from the balcony is definitely the highlight. The room service is impeccable, the food is extremely delicious, and the facilities are immaculately clean. Hands down! This is rated as the best 5-star hotel in Papua New Guinea!

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Grand Papua Hotel.

 

Airways Hotel (Luxury): This is where I stayed before and after my trek on the Kokoda TrackA luxury staycation awaits you at Airways Hotel! The name of the hotel speaks itself as it is one of the best airport hotels in the world. It is literally 3-minutes from the airport with a free-shuttle included. This sleek, well-designed 5-star hotel features first-class amenities and an awesome buffet for all meals. The staff has good attention to detail and they greet you warmly from the moment you set foot in the hotel entrance. The staff were very friendly and often chatted to us for ages about our treks, where we were going and were excited to meet us. It was not like the normal sterile customer service of a hotel, the staff was genuinely happy we had come to Papua New Guinea and their hotel. Everything is perfect from the views of Bootless Bay to the mountains. 

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Airways Hotel.

 

The Sanctuary Hotel Resort & Spa (Value): This hotel is just 10 minutes away from the Jacksons airport and is popular for all sorts of travelers. It features a tiny pool fenced with plants and a fountain making it a relaxing spot for guests after a long day of sightseeing. This hideaway has 54 rooms ranging from twin rooms, double rooms, and studio suites– all equipped with air conditioner, a Wi-fi, and a terrace. If that’s not enough, try their super relaxing hot stone massage at Lingzhi (Mushroom) Serenity Spa. Here guests can also get a chance to feed birds in the big aviary on-site. They have a parking space available for guests, round-the-clock reception, complimentary airport shuttle (very handy), balconies overlooking the pool. And the hotel serves healthy and delicious food! This hotel is definitely a great value for money but still has the luxurious trimmings.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of The Sanctuary Hotel Resort & Spa.

 

Holiday Inn Express Port Moresby (Value): This is an affordable 4-star option for people traveling for business or leisure. Set in the center of the action, this property is all about attention to detail. Guests of the 4-star rooms enjoy free Wi-fi throughout the hotel as well as the airport shuttle. But the real highlight is the complimentary breakfast buffet and it’s included in the price. Holiday Inn Express is an ideal place for those who are looking for places that offer great value for money. I highly recommend staying at this hotel for transit or short stay in Port Moresby.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Holiday Inn Express Port Moresby.

 

SCUBA DIVING

You can dive in Papua New Guinea throughout the year with incredibly warm water. It’s ranked as the #7 diving location in the entire world! Though the locations can be quite remote and the marine biodiversity is incredible. The popular diving locations are in Kavieng, Milne Bay, and Kimbe Bay. Check out my top-pick resorts below:

 

Madang Dive Resort: I stayed here and if scuba diving is your thing, then Madang Dive Resort is the ideal place for you too! This waterfront 4-star resort offers a wide selection of rooms from standard to Presidential and Executive suites with private balcony except some of the standard rooms.  I think what sets Madang Dive Resort apart is the number of activities for every guest to enjoy such as diving at WWII shipwreck and plane wreck, snorkeling, trekking, cruising, fishing, and even jet skiing! Breakfast is included in your stay and you can also try their cuisines from the 4 restaurants on-site. There is also a shuttle service to and from the airport. Staff are all personable, providing excellent service to their guests. I highly recommend Madang Dive Resort! Tell your guide and shuttle diver ‘Busy Bee’ I said hello.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Madang Dive Resort.

 

Walindi Plantation Resort: This was my favorite place I stayed while in Papua New Guinea. We stayed for four nights and it was just incredible in every regard. The food was outstanding, even for us as vegetarians. The volcano hikes, hot river, island-hopping and scuba diving was just second to none!

Set in Kimbe Bay, Walindi Plantation Resort is another perfect base for scuba diving or water excursions. Not a cheap stay but it is truly all-inclusive even your daily washing! Each bungalow is designed traditionally with verandas and surrounded by rainforest and tropical lush scenery. Wait till you see how epic the trees are on the property! This oceanfront resort has a cute pool, a waterfront bar, and an open-air restaurant so you’ll have everything for a comfortable stay. The area has the most amazing diving spots although it’s quite remote, which means you will literally be the only boat on the water. Most people visit here to experience full days of diving but actually, you can customize activities based on your preference just like what I did. Whether you want to try trekking to a volcano, enjoy the heated enchanted river in the jungle, or go scuba diving and free diving, Walindi Resort has plenty to offer! The average stay is seven days the owner told us, with guests looking to spend lots of days diving, with one or two land adventure days and some relaxing.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of the Walindi Plantation Resort.

 

Loloata Private Island Resort (Secluded): If you want a more private escape then head to Loloata Private Island Resort located on Loloata island–not too far from Port Moresby. This luxury boutique resort offers 68 tastefully-furnished suites and villas which are designed for every guest’s comfort with a view of pristine ocean and colorful reefs, plus easy access to its private beach. The resort has been redeveloped and features multiple diving sites where you can see stunning tropical sea creatures. If you want to do snorkeling, guests are provided with snorkeling gear for free which is a bonus. But if you feel like pampering yourself whilst staying at Loloata, take advantage of their spa service at the Sea Salt Spa. This resort also welcomes day visitors but it requires advanced booking to keep the privacy of the resort. This property is perfect for those who seek a luxury tropical destination.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Loloata Private Island Resort.

 

Tawali Resort: Set in a remote part of Milne Bay, Tawali Resort is one of the best places to stay for scuba diving enthusiasts and travelers alike. This private resort is only accessible by boat where the rainforest meets corals. How epic is that! Featuring wooden bungalows with safe-deposit boxes and private balconies from which guests can enjoy the view of the bay. Apart from the exceptional scuba diving, another thing that I love about this resort is its laid-back atmosphere. There’s a swimming pool, a bar, and a restaurant on site. The property also offers excursions such as snorkeling, fishing trips, and visiting a waterfall and cave. What’s not to love?

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Tawali Resort.

 

Kabaira Beach Hideaway: This retreat cabin offers basic accommodation located on New Britain island. It is technically surrounded by villages and lush greenery. A beachfront accommodation that offers basic rooms to cater to all types of travelers. It features small and big bungalows, guesthouses, a dining room for all meals, and a bar. They have a wide range of activities on offer including scuba diving, snorkeling, jungle tours, island tours, and more. Take advantage of their complimentary laundry service. And a visit to Kabaira is not complete without sampling their traditional food.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Kabaira Beach Hideaway.

 

Lissenung Island Resort: This resort is situated on a private island just a 20-minute boat ride from Kavieng. This place is an epitome of paradise! From white sand beaches that surround the towering palm trees to pristine seawater home to the most beautiful coral reefs and fishes. It offers 8 traditional-style oceanfront accommodations with verandas. Imagine yourself waking up in paradise. Serenity and relaxation are another reason why people visit here. Here at Lissenung, you’ll be rewarded with world-class diving as the island is abundant in marine life. Definitely a favorite among scuba divers!

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Lissenung Island Resort.

 

 

BIRD WATCHING

The Highland areas are popular for birders, photographers, and nature lovers thanks to Papua New Guinea’s incredible birdlife. Here, you’ll get to see a lot of beautiful flora and fauna. If you are a hiking enthusiast, then Mt. Hagen’s rugged outback shows the real challenge for you. There are a few lodges that make perfect places to stay for bird watchers. Rondon Ridge Lodge is one of the best lodgings as it offers a surreal view of Wahgi Valley. Betty’s Lodge is a popular base for hiking and bird watching as well as Ambua Lodge, which is an eco-friendly lodge that also offers a great view of Tari Valley.

 

Rondon Ridge Lodge: Getting there is a pain in the bum but it’s certainly worth it! This lodge is quite off the beaten track which is more exciting for adventure lovers like me. Set in the Wahgi Valley, you’ll wake up with the panoramic view of the valley from your room. Rooms are a mixture of local rosewood and modern style furnishings. Each room is provided with electric blankets. There is also a lounge for dining which is surrounded by rainforest and vegetation. Apart from watching birds, some of the highlights here are visiting the famous Mudmen and several villages for the customs and traditions of the Melpa people and you’ll be accompanied by a local guide. Undoubtedly,this haven has a lot to offer!

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Rondon Ridge Lodge.

 

Betty’s Lodge: It’s one of those iconic accommodations you come across on your travels. Everyone knows it, everyone knows Betty. She’s been in the community for 33-years and at the top of a bumpy road, she has built a haven for hikers. She prides herself on providing as much luxury as she can in this remote village. Hikers are treated to hot water, comfortable beds and best of all, a really great spread of food at every meal. Little touches like afternoon coffee and fresh strawberries make it feel like home.

The lodge is at 2,800m of incline so it’s good to spend a night here acclimatizing before heading up to base camp at 3,500m. We stayed here for one night and then trekked up to base camp where we spent one night, summited in the morning and then trekked all the way back down to Betty’s Lodge to stay one more night before driving back to Mount Hagen. This is a great way and gives you a little bit of acclimatization time. I would suggest maybe two nights at base camp so you can better acclimatize. I struggled with altitude sickness so this would’ve benefited me.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability for Bett’s Lodge

 

 

Ambua Lodge: Set in the Southern Highlands, Ambua Lodge features non-air conditioned and round-shaped lodges but cozy enough for sleeping. Of course, who would want an air conditioner if your base is in the middle of the jungle? This eco-friendly property has a restaurant and lounge area. Getting here is tricky but it’s worth it as it offers wondrous and bizarre views of Tari Valley. Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts stay in this lodge not only to watch different species of birds but also to learn the culture of the neighboring villages such as the sightings of the famous Huli Wigmen tribe. Hiking from the lodge is another option- a short trek to the rainforest leads to a fantastic and huge waterfall but wherever you go it’s advisable to be accompanied by a guide or else you’ll lose track in the forest. So bring your camera and enjoy taking photographs with nature as your backdrop!

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Ambua Lodge.

 

SURFING

There are also some guesthouses for surfers traveling in Papua New Guinea. No-frills accommodation but have decent lodging and laid-back atmosphere. Some of the recommended properties for surfing enthusiasts are Vanimo Surf Lodge in the North Shore of Papua New Guinea; Nusa Island Retreat in the outer reaches of Niugini Islands; and Rubio Plantation Retreat on New Ireland.

 

Vanimo Surf Lodge: This place is a haven for all sorts of surfers! Vanimo Surf Lodge is situated on the North shore in Papua New Guinea not far from the Indonesian border. With very few tourists visiting each year, this remote accommodation has been operating for years and visited by famous surfers since the 1980s. You’re in the right place if you’re looking for uncrowded surf breaks, waves for even beginner surfers, small waterfront refuge, and cultural experience. The accommodations are bare-bones oceanfront huts and can accommodate only up to 16 guests. A $12 fee for the local community is included in your booking and also airport transfer, 1.5 liters of bottled water a day, all meals, and endless surfing. The property offers food that is cooked in a traditional way–simple yet delicious! Although electricity is scarce here because power shuts off at 9 pm, I guess it is not a problem as guests are probably asleep this time after a long day of surfing.  

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Vanimo Surf Lodge.

 

Nusa Island Retreat: A sanctuary for surfers set in the outer parts of Niugini Islands, New Ireland where you’ll experience the true island and surfing life. Nusa Island Retreat is only a few minutes boat ride from Kavieng offering simple accommodation ranging from standard rooms to premium rooms. The traditional island-style premium bungalows can accommodate up to 6 people and they are just right on the water so you’ll enjoy listening to the sound of waves throughout day and night. Each premium bungalow has a private bathroom and a spacious veranda with hammocks, chairs, and excellent views of the pristine waters. But the standard room has a shared bathroom in the back part of the property. I really loved its laid-back atmosphere and the fresh local seafood and fruits they served to every guest. Here surfing is lit as the area boasts a great number of surf breaks and nice waves during the surfing period from November to April. Apart from surfing, it is also a perfect location to base yourself for other water activities such as diving, fishing, and kayaking.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Nusa Island Retreat.

 

Rubio Plantation Retreat: Rubio Plantation Retreat is perfectly located on a private plantation which is a 3-hour drive from Kavieng Airport. It offers rustic traditional bungalows with a total of 11 beds equipped with private and shared facilities. You’ll expect nothing but a basic, no-frills stay as they only rely on solar and hydro-power systems to generate power in the area. The hosts (Shane & Annette) are very accommodating and helpful in providing every guest’s needs. They are extremely knowledgeable about the place especially surfing. At Rubio’s, delicious meals are served 3 times a day in your entire stay. Try their home-made hot choco- it’s the best and probably one of the highlights during the stay. Beach and mountains surround this property so it has many trails to explore on top of infinite surfing. There’s nothing more interesting than learning a new culture. This retreat also offers traditional dancing and cooking and village tours. With a private beach, excellent surf breaks, amazing jungles, Rubio Plantation Retreat is a pure paradise!

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Rubio Plantation Retreat.

 

MOMASE REGION: LAE ACCOMMODATION

Lae is the capital of Morobe Province and the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea. There are plenty of attractions to see in Lae Province including the Unitech and Botanical Gardens. Check out my two top recommendations below:

 

Crossroads Lae Hotel (Staff/Location): Renowned for its friendly staff and convenient location, a stay at Crossroads Lae Hotel will be both welcoming and comfortable. It’s only 30 minutes away from Lae Airport plus there’s a shuttle bus available if you want to be picked up. This 3-star hotel has beautiful landscapes and a tranquil location. It features 40 rooms, an outdoor pool with a bar, a 24-hour reception, a tour desk, and a gym. Each room is fitted with a safe-deposit box and some may have a balcony from which you can enjoy the mountain views. I especially like the fact that the property serves numerous cuisines from international to Asian dishes.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Crossroads Lae Hotel.

 

Hotel Morobe (Value): Another 3-star hotel in Lae is Hotel Morobe. This hotel offers free breakfast for two at their two in-house restaurants. An added bonus is the proximity to the shops the beautiful views of the city and mountain. Each room has necessities including hairdryers and toiletries. Its simple and homey interior, welcoming staff, and quiet location are among the reasons why guests love to stay here. Plus it’s a great base if you’re exploring Momase region.

CLICK HERE to check the best current rates and availability of Hotel Morobe.

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