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Dive Review of MV Golden Dawn in
Papua New Guinea

March, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Michael Emerson, MN, US
Contributor   (13 reports)
Report Number 5983
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Palau, Komodo, Raja Ampat, Lembeh, Solomons, Fiji,Galapagos
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
Water Temp
84   to 88    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Pretty hands off  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Boat facilities were pretty crowded.  Fortunately we did not have many big
time photographers on board so not too big of a problem.  The boat did have
good outlet availability which is important.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
1 stars   
5 stars    
In March of 2011, my adult daughter and I spent 10 days aboard the MV
Golden Dawn, visiting the remote Eastern Fields of Papua New Guinea.    For
several years, this itinerary has been on my bucket list of dive sites to
see during my continuing career.  Craig Dewitt pioneered this entire area
and his spirit is legendary.  

Because the cruise leaves from Port Moresby, it eliminates the need to fly
a small domestic flight to one of the remote cities.  Nonetheless, getting
to PNG is expensive and challenging compared to the Philippines or
Indonesia. Air Niguini owns a monopoly on transportation and charged me
$60/kilo for baggage weight overage on a flight out of Singapore.  Ouch. 
Upon arrival into PNG, we spent an  hour in a hot stinky luggage room to
make our way through customs.  One does not arrive refreshed.

A visit to the Eastern Fields requires a 10 to 12 hour steam from the
mainland.  Once there, you will find 125 foot visibility and probably the
healthiest coral systems on the planet.  Many of the dives included visits
by swarming schools of jacks, fusiliers, and barracuda.  Unfortunately,
reality has hit this area, so the shark population has been reset to white
tips which we saw on almost every dive.  On the other hand, we did one dive
back near PNG where we did see six species of sharks on one dive. Craig
Dewitt has mastered the art of shark calling with a plastic bottle.  Good
for us, but it did land him in the hospital once.  A big silver tip left a
nice mark over his shoulder.

Carls Ultimate is one of the best five dive sites on the planet.  A reef
system about the size of a football field is covered with an explosion of
life.  The entire reef is covered by anthias  and then overlaid with larger
schools of bigger fish.  For a day, you get to travel back in time to an
earlier version of planet earth.  I am privileged to have seen this.  I
have seen most of the worlds great fish dives and nothing is better.

The MV Golden Dawn was small for 11 of us, but first class.  We had a great
group of passengers and the food was great throughout the week.  I did miss
the much larger boats of Indonesia, but everyone was well fed and cared
for.   The boat reminded me of a scuba version of the African Queen.  We
were only missing Ms. Hepburn.

The diving is not for novices.  Descents often required heavy finning into
strong currents.  Once down, the water moved erratically and could switch
back halfway through the dive.  You should be comfortable in doing a blue
water ascent by yourself before you venture here.  One dive site named
Passport Point is so named because you may end up in another country for
pickup if you miss the corner of the reef.   I asked for the most likely
destination and Craig told us that several islands were possible.
Fortunately, the surface was dead calm which facilitated quick pickups.
Craig left us alone to dive our own profile and route.   We had guides on
some sites, but we could dive as we wanted.

Closer to shore, we also got to do the flashlight fish dive.  Just after
sunset, you descend to the top of a sunken freighter with no artificial
light.  On cue, thousands of phosphorescent fish begin to pour forward from
the center of the ship out into the area in front of us..  Kind of like an
underwater version of the movie Cocoon.  Amazing.

So if you are willing to venture to PNG and then cruise 12 hours out to the
very edge of nowhere, you will be rewarded with coral reefs which are
beautiful, pristine and clouded with fish.  A handful of us got to see
something special. While I crossed off one site from my bucket list, I
already put this on an even smaller list of spots that deserves a second
look.  I would love to see Carls Ultimate at least one more time in my
diving life.

You can see my photos from the trip at user name baywood16105 on Flickr.
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All Papua New Guinea Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Papua New Guinea
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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