Our Route Through Papua New Guinea

Our time in PNG was excellent.  We thought we would share with fellow sailors our route through PNG, some tips we learned along the way, and most importantly a GPX file that contains all our anchorages, key locations for customs, immigration, etc in Kaveing and some provisioning tips.

Papua New Guinea can be challenging in some areas primarily due to safety.  There are places where cruisers are just not safe, and we decided to stay off the beaten path and go far away from the main towns and islands.  This strategy proved very successful and rewarding as we met some of the best people and made some long lasting friends.  PNG has been one of our favorite sailing destinations.  We spent about five months sailing the outer islands.

Field Trip route through PNG

Our route was rather simple as you can see.  We started from the Solomons, clearing out of Noro, and then sailed via Rancador Reef (Solomon Islands) and then direct to the Mortlocks (our first unofficial stop in PNG).

We cleared into PNG at Kavieng, and cleared out of PNG in Vanimo.  This allowed us a longer stay (90 day visa given on arrival) as it took us almost two months to get to Kavieng from Noro.  We had no issues in Kaveing clearing into PNG, and it was the easiest clearance we’ve ever done in over six years of cruising.

PNG Clearance


Clearing into PNG was simple in Kavieng.  There are only two stops you must make to completely clear into the country, and you don’t seem to need to make the stops in any particular order based on our experience.  

Quarantine is a small building diagonal from the fuel station near the market.  We’ve placed  a marker on the map below of approximate location.  It’s an easy walk from the market area where we left our dingy.  You will turn to the right and walk down the road from the market.  The office is on the left off the main road.  It is not easy to see, but it’s there if you look.

Customs and Immigration are in the same building.  They have moved in the past year (2016) to a new location that is on the main street where the larger grocery stores are located.  We’ve also included this on the map.  You will need to go past a guard of sorts and walk up a lot of stairs to the very top of the building.  Here you will find both customs and immigration.  They will ask of your previous port clearance and stamp your passports.  Note, that you MUST get a port clearance from Kavieng to your next port.  In our case it was Vanimo, and we got this clearance the day before we left for ‘Vanimo’, while make a lot of stops along the way.  We had no issues and it took 15 minutes for both customs and immigration.


If it wasn’t for the fact that we needed visas for Indonesia and could only get them in Vanimo, we would have skipped this stop.  Vanimo is not safe for overnight stays.  Two vessels in 2017 were robbed at gunpoint, one being a large 60+ foot monohull that was robbed at night by multiple men.  If you plan accordingly, you can get your visa in the same day (you need to have cash, and paperwork filled out ahead of time if possible).  You can email the embassy requesting details for the visa.  As of this writing you did NOT need a sponsor letter for a tourist visa (180 days) in the Vanimo office.

Clearing out was simple, but you must make stops and immigration and customs.  Both of which are in different locations and can take some time.  The airport houses immigration and customs is a bit away.  The immigration officers gave us a ride to customs.  Very nice folks and easy, just time consuming

Useful contacts in Vanimo are:

Customs :
David Mandui Manduid@customs.gov.pg

Simon Soti Taxi:

Port Authority: 
Gibsen 73922535 
Michael 73285725

Alex 72821464

Indonesiani consulate:
Iman Persada 70012138 
Office 4571372


The provisioning is not terrible in Kavieng.  There are two main stores, both located on the same road as Immigration and Customs that have decent provisions.  If you continuing walking past the I&C office (see map) you will find several decent stores, some with good western products.  This was our only stop for provisioning in PNG, so we stocked up as we would not be seeing any provisioning until we arrived in Sorong, Indonesia some 4 months later.

Provisioning in Kavieng with our friends on s/v Perry

Safety & Security

The bottom line is we kept everything locked and stowed at night when in Kavieng.  We always raised the tender, and made sure there were not loose items on deck.  We never had an issue, and felt safe in PNG with the exception of Vanimo.  Vanimo had a different vibe, and it was possible this was due to the bad reports we received from others and we were happy to get out of there in a timely manner.  


We use an app on our iPad to keep track of all our anchorages.  It allows us to rate the locations for lots of items and add images.  The full document, that includes all the anchorages and a summary of this post can be downloaded here.  The ratings scales are 0-5, with 5 being the highest.  Since most of the locations were remote, we had literally no cellular service the entire trip….which was nice.  With few exceptions, the anchorages were all in sand, and in reasonable depths. 

Sample page of anchorages for PNG

We’ve also included a GPX file that has all these anchorages, plus their descriptions and some of the primary dive sites we dove along the way.  The GPX file can be downloaded here.

In conclusion, we loved PNG, especially the Ninigo islands and the Mortlocks.  We could have stayed there for months. On that note, here is our suggestion to maximizing your time in these areas.  

If you are heading east, we suggest you clear into Kavieng (skip Vanimo) and go through the Ninigos.  That way you can stay as long as you like before clearing into PNG.  There have been no issues doing this and a number of friends have done this on their boats.

If you are heading west, we waited until we got to Kavieng for clearance into PNG.  That way we had three full months before we had to clear out of Vanimo (we needed Indonesia visas that's why we had to stop here).  If you don't need Indonesian visas, I would clear out of Kavieng (or similar) for Sorong or Biak, skipping Vanimo and Jayapura completely.  We had no issues with doing this (we cleared into Sorong) and took our time getting there via Cenderwash Bay.


  1. I would LOVE to do a sailing trip in Papua New Guinea! A good friend is going to the Caribbean today to work as a sailor there for two months! I'm jealous as hell. But according to this I have big chances for a trip like this in autumn, so we will see :)

  2. Hi mark, any chance you could post a link to the gpx file with the anchorages? I must be overlooking something since I cannot find it. You can also email it to me at sanuk at decuypere dot org. Thank you very much.


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