Port Moresby Holidays
Port Moresby is the gateway to Papua New Guinea and capital of the island nation. The South Pacific's largest city, Port Moresby is home to a jumble of ethnicities including Melanesian, Papuan, Micronesian and Polynesian, but was once the land of just 2 native tribes – the Motu and Koitabu. You can still catch a glimpse of traditional Motuan village life at Hanuabada where stilt houses sit precariously over the sea. Port Moresby played an important role in World War II as the last line of defence before Australia and as a post for Allied troops braving the Kokoda Track. Port Moresby tourism is boosted by visitors making the 96 kilometre pilgrimage in the footsteps of fallen diggers before them.
One of the most prominent Port Moresby attractions is Parliament Haus which features a towering facade of iconic Papua New Guinean art. The impressive structure is a composite of old and new and offers great opportunities for architectural photography in the afternoon light. A visit to Hanuabada ('big village') will open your eyes to a conservative lifestyle worlds apart from modern Australia. The original thatched roofs have been replaced with tin and iron, but many Motu customs still live on. If you are keen to check out the ramshackle water village, you will need a local guide or an invitation from a Hanuabada resident who are usually more than happy to bend your ear and share their culture.
There are a number of popular Port Moresby restaurants where you can stop for coffee and a bite to eat during the day. Grand Bar, Bon Cafe and Seven Cs are among the best cafes in town – their stylish decor and selection of cakes and treats is a pleasant surprise. The Royal Papua Yacht Club is a great spot for lunch and dinner with beautiful marina views and an a la carte menu that has a few distinct local flavours. After a hot day exploring Port Moresby, cool off with a South Pacific Export lager at your hotel bar. Stock up on the necessities at Vision City – Port Moresby's shiny new mega mall in Waigani.
Where to Stay
Port Moresby has become the focal point for development in Papua New Guinea, which is evident as you make your way through the CBD where a handful of polished high rises stand out. The Airways Hotel currently reigns supreme on the Port Moresby accommodation scene, boasting incredible views and a range of luxury suites. There is a selection of designer rooms on offer as well as a collection of boutique shops, a health club and restaurants including elegant, French flair at Bacchus. Airways is conveniently located just a couple of minutes from the airport, but other hotel choices include the Crowne Plaza and the modern, marble-embellished Grand Papua Hotel.
Port Moresby shopping is very much focussed around local markets. Ela Beach Craft Market on the last Saturday of the month is filled with artworks and curiosities from across Papua New Guinea like ornate carvings and hand-woven baskets. Make sure you pack a hat as it can get a little torrid when Port Moresby weather is at its warmest. There are more opportunities to spend your Kinas in the Boroko neighbourhood, with a large market on Tabari Place where vendors peddle an assortment of goods including handmade jewellery and bilums – string bags that have become an icon of Papua New Guinea.
Port Moresby like a Local
Look at flights to Port Moresby in mid-September (around Papua New Guinea's Independence Day) to get there in time for the Hiri Moale Festival. Hiri Moale is a colourful celebration of Motuan culture where locals gather on the shore as women once did waiting for their men to return from their sea trading voyages. Each year the festival crowns a Hiri Queen based on her ritual dance, the quality of her tattoos and practice of traditional customs including dressing in grass skirts. Port Moresbians primarily speak English, Hiri Motu and, more commonly, the creole Tok Pisin. Joining a tour group is a good idea if you want an intimate Port Moresby experience but are worried about language barriers.