When is the Best Time to Visit Papua New Guinea?
As with many tropical countries, Papua New Guinea doesn’t distinguish between the four traditional seasons. Instead, it experiences just two types of weather: wet and dry. The weather also differs depending on location; in the Highlands (such as Mount Hagen), it is much cooler than in the low lying coastal regions. Temperatures can vary greatly, with temperature differences at the higher end of the scale around 15-20 degrees.
Coinciding with its festivals and celebrations, the months between May and October are the drier and more pleasant months. April and November tend to be wetter and humid, while December to March is notorious for rain. Although December to March is not the best time to visit Papua New Guinea, it’s thanks to the rainy season that the country is covered in unique, colourful and lush vegetation all year round.
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Festival season is the most popular time of year for travel to Papua New Guinea, and for good reason. Running from July to September, Papua New Guinea’s festival season attracts thousands of international tourists with mystical dances and masked warriors. The Warwagira & Mask Festival happens in July and involves East New Britain islanders donning masks to adopt their ancestors’ spiritual powers. In August, the highlight of the Enga Cultural Show is the Sili Mili Mud dancers, whose black-painted faces and human hair wigs are astonishing. If you visit in September, don't miss the Goroka Show. This celebration marks the country’s Independence Day and attracts thousands of revellers.
On Papua New Guinea’s Rabaul island, history takes centre stage. Here, Admiral Yamamoto’s bunker teaches travellers how the Japanese based their war efforts in the region. The intricate network of tunnels in Rabaul are also worth exploring for travellers wanting to get a glimpse of how over 100,000 Japanese soldiers lived, ate and worked underground during the war. The best time to visit Papua New Guinea to learn about the nation’s history is during the dry season, from April to October, as all of the wartime remnants are located outside.
With days slightly cooler between June and September, this is the best time for hiking trips around Papua New Guinea. In the Highlands, temperatures can drop to single figures - especially during the wetter months - so be sure to pack layers. With a highland interior of rugged peaks and craggy rocks, Papua New Guinea is a hiker’s paradise. Many of the impressive summits here are taller than 13,000 feet while others are considerably less challenging, so the mountains are suited to both experienced and novice climbers.
Home to some of the world’s most incredible reefs, Papua New Guinea is a place of pilgrimage for many divers. Bursting with colour and life, the reefs are visible from overhead and cover much of the coastline. Head to places such as Kokopo and Tufi for mesmerising underwater adventures. In Tufi’s open water reefs, marine life including everything from tuna, barracuda and white and black tip sharks to turtles, mantas and eagle rays can be spotted. Near Kokopo, the waters surrounding the uninhabited Kabakon Island offer the enchanting opportunity of swimming with dolphins. Divers will be glad to know that visibility is good all year round, so no months are off limits.