Port Moresby, the bustling capital city of Papua New Guinea, has a secret. A short drive away is a scuba diving island paradise for those in the know. Locals have treasured the possibility of an island escape for decades and for good reason. Loloata Island Resort is a simple yet fantastic getaway with some of the best diving near the capital.
Richard (Dik) Knight had a dream of developing a diving destination to satisfy his passion for the sport. After searching for the ideal location, in 1978 he found this isolated island that is remote, but also conveniently close to the capital city.
I was invited along with my friend Sean to visit and experience this rustic dive heaven on my trip, Pacifying the Pacific.
We had a transfer from downtown all the way to the boat jetty where we boarded a small white motor boat with other locals and were whisked away. Little did we know, our companions were staff from the resort.
The island appeared in the distance and as we got closer I was surprised by how large it was. In the tribal Motu language “Loloata” translates to “one hill”, a fitting name for the lush green island.
On our arrival, we took walked down the picturesque pier to the reception. This main building serves as the office, gift shop, and restaurant. A small wooden structure next door is the dedicated dive shop. Wallabies and beautiful Victoria crowned pigeons scurried away as we neared. These animals were introduced to the island but have now claimed it as their own.
Near the reception were eleven original rooms of the ‘house’ that were rented out, but we were staying in one of the eleven elevated bungalows lining the side of the island.
We settled into our neighboring bungalows. The hillside bungalow interiors were simple but comfortable, with a queen and single bed, desk, air conditioning, and private bathroom with a shower. We spent most of our time outside on our large balconies and marveled at the bougainvillea flowers and sea views. Scanning the uninhabited horizon, it was hard to believe that just a few hours ago we were in the center of the largest city in the country.
Meals were served at the restaurant and included in a full board rate. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were homestyle Papua cuisine often featuring fresh locally caught fish. Tasty cuisine and charming staff made mealtimes something to look forward to.
Over the next few days Sean and I had several dives exploring some underwater attractions like a downed WWII A20 Havoc, a sunken tug boat, and fields of coral life. Most of the sites were conveniently close to the island, making a quick dive very accessible. The endless undisturbed reefs were some of the best I’ve seen in the world.
By the end of our stay, the tranquil evenings, natural surroundings, and absolute privacy put us into a zen state of relaxation. But all vacations end and we were soon off to the reality of Port of Moresby.
Dik Knight and his family were wonderful hosts and we shared many stories over our dinners. The staff, like the manager Olinda or the dive instructors were all very friendly and professional.
Unfortunately they sold the property and it will soon be open under a new owner. One thing I’ve learned from Dik, developing a resort in the “wild west” of Papua New Guinea is extremely challenging, but I guess that’s all part of the adventure.
Loloata Island Resort
Address: PO Box 5290 Boroko
Telephone: +675 7276 8687