Most of the city social life centres around its iconic social and sporting clubs – The Royal Papua Yacht Club, the Aviat Social and Sporting Club and the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club. All warmly welcome visitors and act as the hubs of expat life in Port Moresby – annual membership is a requirement for residents of course. It is definitely worthwhile joining one or both clubs. Each has their own well-equipped gym, restaurant, bar, and children’s playground, and each plays host to a variety of social events throughout the year. The Yacht Club also has a great café and the Aviat Club boasts an excellent pool. The Royal Port Moresby Golf Club is a famous attraction and a real icon of social life here. It hosts the richest and best provincial golf tournament in the region each year in early May, the SP Brewery PNG Open, and the course itself has been lauded and loved by many famous players including Greg Norman.
The city itself is home to two wildlife attractions. At The National Orchid Gardens and Wildlife Park, PNG’s famous Birds of Paradise can be viewed, alongside one of the world’s largest collections of orchids. The Port Moresby Nature Park is a welcome break from the city: home to tree kangaroos, cassowaries and wallabies, the well maintained enclosures are set in spacious, beautiful gardens. The National Museum and the unique Parliament Haus are also worth a visit. However, there are reachable places of interest just outside of the city. A good beach is accessible from Sunset Lodge, which can also provide a basic bar and BBQ facilities. The forests, lush green spaces and spectacular views make Varirata National Park a great place for a picnic, and both locations are within an hour’s drive of the city. There is plenty of scope for fishing, snorkelling and boat trips out to nearby Fisherman’s Island. For anyone without access to a boat, Daikoku Restaurant at the waterfront can arrange fully catered day trips aboard their own yacht.
Nightlife in Port Moresby is colourful and unpredictable and for expats and visitors it’s advisable to stick to the main hotels, which isn’t necessarily as restrictive as it sounds, since Lamana Hotel is home to one of the biggest and most popular nightclubs in town. For the more adventurous, the new Cosmopolitan club is busy attracting a string of internationally-renowned DJs. A number of more upmarket formals are held for various occasions at Airways Hotel and The Grand Papua Hotel throughout the year.
A new multiplex cinema showing all the latest Hollywood movies is located in Vision City Mall and there is even a local arts scene, nurtured primarily by the theatre company at the Moresby Arts Theatre. This old but much-loved local institution regularly presents plays and hosts performances given by the Port Moresby Choral Society, who also put on concerts in the larger churches in town.
Newcomers to the city might be surprised at the sporting facilities available. Most of the major hotels offer well-equipped gyms, as do many apartment complexes. In addition to tennis and golf, good facilities for squash and swimming can be found. A variety of fitness classes are held in different venues across the city. These classes include Aqua-Fit, Zumba and yoga. Informal but well-organised groups for running, cycling, sailing and walking all exist within the expat community and triathlons catering to these groups are a frequent feature on the streets of Port Moresby during weekends throughout the year. Specialist sports equipment is worth bringing with you, but Brian Bell Home Centre covers a general range. For after sport, or for pure leisure, two well-regarded spa facilities can be found in the Grand Papua Hotel and Airways Hotel respectively, providing a comprehensive range of massage and cosmetic treatments.
The choice of restaurants in Port Moresby’s betrays its increasingly East Asian influences, with three of its most prominent independent restaurants, Daikoku, Seoul House and Asia Aromas, offering Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese cuisine respectively. The larger hotels are home to arguably the best restaurants in Port Moresby, notably Bacchus Restaurant in Airways Hotel, Rapala Restaurant in Crowne Plaza Hotel, and Kopi Haus in the Holiday Inn. In fact, for those with special dietary requirements, both the Holiday Inn and Airways Hotel offer gluten-free menu options. The Beachside Brasserie in Ela Beach Hotel is popular for pizzas, both eat-in and take-away.
Cafés are not in short supply and there are a number of PNG chains with small outlets across the city. The leading chains, Boncafe and Figaros, can both be found in Vision City Mall. At the Nature Park there is ‘Nature’s Café’. The waterfront is home to The Edge Café, as well as to Sails Café in The Royal Yacht Club, and both offer pleasant harbour-side seating. For the best coffee and cakes in town however, go to Duffy Café. Its inauspicious frontage, tucked away in an office building in Gordons, hides a contemporary, attractive café serving a choice of local or imported coffee, as well as a clothes boutique upstairs.
The clothing outlet inside Duffy highlights a somewhat gaping hole in the market in Port Moresby, for Duffy is one of a very few places in the city selling new clothes. Australian brand ‘Jeanswest’ has opened in Vision City Mall, but otherwise quality new clothing is not easy to come by. When it comes to shopping for second-hand clothing, however, Port Moresby is in a league of its own. There are innumerable second-hand clothing shops, each with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of clothes, frequently visited by expats looking for vintage, retro and even designer bargains. If all else fails, according to PNG’s ‘Stella’ Magazine, the online international clothing company ‘Asos’ will deliver to Port Moresby addresses.
In fact, the two local “women’s” magazines (published at infrequent intervals throughout the year) ‘Lily’, together with the beautifully produced ‘Stella’, are terrific sources of local news and events information, and purchasing a copy is a good way to support a local initiative. A number of Australian newspapers and magazines are available to purchase, together with the two main local newspapers, The National and Post-Courier, at the newspaper stand in the Waterfront and in Star News Link in Vision City.
Buying local crafts, paintings, souvenirs and plants, has been made easy by three monthly craft markets dedicated to handmade PNG produce. These are held at the Moresby Arts Theatre, the Holiday Inn, and Ela Murray School on consecutive weekends and there is often entertainment put on by local dance troupes. During the week there is also a fixed market selling similar goods in Boroko.