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Dive Review of Hughes Star Dancer/Walindi in
Papua New Guinea/Kavieng-Kimbe Bay

May, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Peter J Maerz, FL, USA
Report Number 1048
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Bimini, Bonaire, Cozumel, Dominica, Fiji, Guanaja (Bay Islands,
Honduras), Little Cayman,St. Lucia, St. Vincent
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
84   to 88    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 90    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
None; 5-minute safety stop strongly recommended  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
See Report
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
PRELIMINARIES:  Booked with Peter Hughes Diving in Miami. Michelle, Jeff
first rate, professional.

PREPARATIONS:  Brought double almost everything: computer, reg, booties,
mask. Visited a travel clinic for inoculations and essential Malaria
Prepared extensive medical kit. Brought LOTS of diversions for 30+ hours of
air travel (crosswords, books, MP3s).

TRAVEL: Used Delta frequent flier miles to code-share with Continental. As
such, was relegated to the scenic route: MIA-IAH;  IAH-HNL;  HNL-GUM; 
Arrived Cairns, Austrailia 11:30pm local time (14 hours ahead of EDT). 
Spent one day touring lovely Kuranda in Queensland (a great way to spend a

Next day, flew Air Niugini CNS-POM (Port Moresby). Had exchanged $ for Kina
(PNG currency) in Cairns and thus had the 100 needed for entry and exit.
Immigration and customs a snap. Met just outside the door by Airways rep.
Escorted by armed guard to van (the Raskols are a threat in POM) and
whisked the three minutes to hotel. Beautiful facility, extremely friendly
and helpful staff, very good food, great pool with a view.

Next day, flew POM to Kavieng, stayed at Malagan Beach Resort. A bit run
down and mediocre food, but nice setting and very quiet. Boarded Star
Dancer next afternoon.

STAR DANCER, CABIN: Great liveaboard. Had Cabin 3a, forward, portside.
Firm, comfortable Queen bed, facing large picture window. Loads of storage
space, large bathroom with tub/shower. U.S-style, 110-volt outlet on wall
with additional plugs on reading lights mounted over bed. 

DIVE DECK: Sturdy aluminum benches with built-in tank holders. Typical for
liveaboards: once gear set up, it stays on tank, filled immediately by
whips after each dive. Webbed plastic bucket for booties, masks, lights,
etc under each bench. Two large, solid rinse tanks for wetsuits and gear.
One large tank for cameras only. Plenty of space for hanging wetsuits.
Well-sheltered, large, two-tiered, carpeted camera table with pressurized
air hose. Photogs kept cameras set up on table entire trip. Sheltered
charging station: one tier for 220 volt, one for 110.  Two, heavy-flowing,
hot water showers on deck, towels fresh from the dryer after every dive.
Gear thoroughly rinsed by crew at end of each day.

OTHER DECKS: Lido deck (above dive/stateroom deck): Large indoor
Salon/Dining Room, lined with windows. Large TV monitor, VCR, stereo with
surround speakers, plenty of reference ID books. Top, lounge deck: half
canopied with two large net hammocks and chaise lounges. 

DIVE SCHEDULE:    6:30-1st Dive. 8:00-Hot breakfast. 9:30-2nd Dive.
11:30-3rd Dive. 1:00pm-Lunch. 3:30-4th Dive.  6:30-5th (night) dive. 8:00-

DIVE PROCEDURE:  C-cards and DAN card carefully scrutinized. No one looked
at a log book. Once youve signed your life away in the release, youre
expected to be able to make your own decisions and be responsible for your
own profile. Absolutely no admonishments or baby sitting. Two excellent
guide/instructors always in the water (and always finding the good stuff).
You must record your tank pressure, O2 percentage if on Nitrox, and depth
on a clipboard. Excellent briefings, though pretty much carbon copy sites:
seamounts or walls, with some great muck diving. Off the back dive deck
(just inches above the water). Swim to front of boat, follow mooring line
to reef.

DIVE EXPERIENCE: Wow! Incredible abundance, diversity and health of flora
and fauna. got good photos of Mandarin fish, leaf scorpions, stonefish,
banded pipefish, shrimp gobies, cuttlefish, crocodile fish and more nudis
than a Diamond Dolls strip club: from pure white to electric, neon green
with scarlet racing stripes and everything in between. Pygmy seahorses.
Porcelain crabs. Free-swimming and attached feather star crinoids in every
conceivable color scheme. And a blinding blizzard of reef fish with Moorish
Idols and butterflies galore, brilliantly-colored regal, blue-saddled, and
other angels and clouds of anthias. Huge expanses of completely undamaged
hard and soft corals of so many varieties, shapes and colors, I couldnt
find them all in the reference books. 15-foot wide, unblemished sea fans a
common occurrence. Sea whips with Razor fish. Sponges. Tunicates.

SURROUNDINGS: , dense, tropical rainforest island scenery, often relatively
close to boat. Often, entire families of local folks silently sitting in
outrigger dugout canoes as you surface from your dive. Breathtaking
sunrises/sets. Seas pretty flat except for our steam from Kavieng to
Fathers. Then, very heavy seas for 14 hours!  Not common, says the Captain,
but you should be prepared with motion sickness pills in the event!

CREW: Super. Friendly, fun, and very knowledgeable, home-grown and
internationally-trained dive staff. Very sweet, demure, and thoughtful
kitchen and housekeeping staff. Capt Raabe is worth the price of admission
himself: a hilarious, energetic and very gregarious guy. Great raconteur.
He lives up to the phrase swears like a sailor, but does so with such a
keen wit and twinkle in his eye, its accepted by even the stodgiest

FOOD:  Not great. Dry meat/chicken, limp fish,heavy sauces. Good deserts.
Complimentary soda/juice. Wine served with dinner. Beer available in a

WALINDI RESORT: Beautiful, lush grounds in the midst of teeming rainforest
in lovely Kimbe Bay. Large, very well-ventilated, meticulously-screened
bungalows. Pretty good food. Great staff knows you by name from day one
and, though unobtrusive, is ready at all times to attend to your needs.
Outlets: 220 volt South Pacific plug configuration. Downside: sopping
humidity with no AC  can get to you.  Also, the daily Mozzie (mosquito)
threat is a bit disconcerting, even though there are not many flying about.
I tired of being oiled with sweat and Ultracon repellent. Small dive
boats are swift, but rides to the reefs (same ones visited on last leg of
Dancer trip) are 30-45 minutes long. Gear mounted on tanks and laid on
side. Back roll or giant stride. Lunch after two dives on beautiful Restorf
island. Very capable crew.

Be sure to visit the Hot River (a 40-minute, very bumpy but scenic van ride
through the oil palm plantation and rainforest), preferably on last day
there. The volcanically-heated, rushing water feels great and the setting
is lost-world paradise!

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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