An initial visit to the capital of Papua New Guinea may be quite confusing and at times intimidating. But for all that the largest city in the South Pacific may not be one of the world’s greatest metropolises or its most organized, Port Moresby still has its redeeming features.
Europeans first became aware of this port city when John Moresby, a British explorer, sailed through the Gulf of Papua in 1873. Around 15 years later, the colony of the British New Guineans was established by Great Britain naming Port Moresby as the capital. During the Second World War, the capital was coveted by both opposing forces for control of the South Pacific Ocean and the Coral Sea. During the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, the Allies defeated the Japanese naval forces as they were aiming for Port Moresby. The Japanese then suffered another blow in 1942 when they were routed to the Owen Stanley Range.
Local industrial development then helped the city grow after the war as the population nearly doubled by the 1980s. Today, the population continues to expand in the capital at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the capital continues to struggle with a high crime rate as well.
All visitors that enter Papua New Guinea go through the rugged capital as Port Moresby is the main entry point of air and water traffic in the country. Despite the limited and rather expensive accommodations, the city still has excellent services and facilities offered by commendable hotels. It is then very much recommended to stay at least a few nights in the capital.
A visit to the strikingly impressive National Parliament House and the fascinating collections at the National Museum and Art Gallery is much suggested when in the city. The mosaic façade of the Parliament House will indeed excite any budding photographer, especially when shot during the late afternoon. With beautiful blooming orchids, the National Botanic Garden is the city’s most charming spot as it highlights the entire city all by itself. Located a few kilometers outside town, the Vairata National Park is a haven for bird lovers.
If you’re a Papua New Guinean tourist coming from the many villages of the country, a meal at one of the best restaurants in the city seems to be perfect after the dozens of sweet potatoes you’ve already consumed from the villages. Restaurants in the city offer international cuisines such as Australian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Indonesian food. Of course, being able to taste the local Papua New Guinean cuisine would be a good idea.
Now a secret that most people don’t tell you is that Port Moresby is more about the people rather than the sights. It is extremely fascinating to talk to expats and locals in order to attain a sense of what it’s like to live in a city that has been rated as one of the most dangerous and least livable locations in the world. That indeed is something worth asking about.
However, despite the city having such a ghastly title, tourists need not be paranoid. Many locals are still equipped with good manners and thoughtful conversations, making Port Moresby a bustling cosmopolitan city to look forward to.