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Dive Review of Peter Hughes Diving/Star Dancer in
Papua New Guinea/New Britain

July, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Reuben Cahn, CA, U.S.A. (2 reports)
Report Number 5197
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Florida, Belize, Caymans, Honduras, PNG, Fiji, Hawaii, Komodo, Lembeh,
Sipadan, Mabul
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
84   to 26    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
60 minutes bottom time for first and last dives of day.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Large table on dive deck with rubber matting.  Towels and compressed air
available.  Very convenient but would be crowded if a full complement of
photographers.  Crew handled cameras carefully.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
5 stars   
5 stars    
Boat recently refurbished.  Not a complete dry dock, but all mechanicals in
good shape and cosmetically nice as well.  Food decent to good.  Crew
always enthusiastic, always helpful, especially Kelly and Yuki. 

          Star Dancer follows a fairly rigid schedule.  First dive is at
6:30, and divers are asked to limit their dives to 60 minutes so that the
kitchen staff can keep on schedule in serving hot breakfasts.  Second dive
was at 9:00.  Third Dive was at 11:30.  Lunch was followed by a break until
3:30 when we would make our fourth dive.  Night dive was at 6:30 with
another request that divers limit themselves to 60 minutes so the kitchen
staff could serve dinner.  A couple of nights, dives were particularly
interesting and ran longer with no complaints.

	Two dive guides were in the water on every dive.  Generally, either Kelly,
the New Zealand born cruise director, or Yuki, a Japanese born instructor
and videographer, would join either Joe or Martin, both PNG natives.  The
guiding was not exactly organized, and we would often lose the guides only
to find them later.  Sometimes, it was my sense that Kelly and Yuki didnt
necessarily know the sites that well.  But both had good eyes and were
always pointing out something interesting.  Martin and Joe both seemed to
gain in enthusiasm as a dive went on.  At the end of a given dive, they
could always be counted on to spot something worth seeing.  

	Our itinerary began in Kimbe Bay, then moved to Fathers Reef (a submerged
reef system well offshore, then to the Bainings Islands and finally on to
the Rabaul area.  Each had something a little different.  Kimbe Bay is lush
coral, huge seafans and barrel sponges.  Fish life is plentiful though not
overwhelming.  This is wide-angle, reef-scene paradise.  A few sites, like
Bradford Shoals, offered a good amount of action, with jacks, tuna and the
occasional shark feeding in the current.  We had dove this same site with
Walindi but had seen nowhere near as much action.  I ascribed it to timing.
 On Star Dancer, we were in the water at 6:30 watching the dawn feeding,
while with Walindis 1 ½ hour boat ride to the site, we didnt hit
the water until 9:30.  On the whole, we saw more fish with Star Dancer
while diving  many of the same sites we dove with Walindi.  

	After, Kimbe Bay came Fathers Reef.  Our first dive there was Killibobs
Knob, an exposed pinnacle patrolled by grey reef and white tip sharks.  The
dive was done as a feed, and the sharks didnt disappoint.  The white tips
were exceedingly bold bumping into divers as they rushed to the bait box. 
The grey reefs were more reticent, keeping a bit of distance.  Jacks and a
few tuna appeared together with what appeared to be wahoo.  After a while
we drifted away to the upper part of pinnacle which was covered with hard
corals, sponges and fans, though not as lush as Kimbe Bay sites. 
Killibobs set the pattern for the Fathers Reef dives, current, lots of
fish, and often big predators, tuna or sharks, hunting.  I think I saw more
tuna at Fathers than Ive seen in any five other dive trips.

	After three days at Fathers we moved on to the Bainings where we spent a
day.   There are only a couple of sites there, and none were particularly
memorable, though none were particularly disappointing either.  From there,
we traveled to the Rabaul area.  Rabaul was to be more of a macro area. 
The Atun was a tuna boat sunk a number of years before and somewhat
encrusted.  I didnt find the macro to be great, but on our second dive
there, I put my wide angle lens back on to capture some silhouettes. 
Porkys and Hoshus offered quite a few nudibranchs and crabs, etc., but
nothing on the level of Indonesia.  The best critter diving came on the
final dive day at Vunapope jetty in Rabaul.  The sands, discarded junk and
patch reefs around the jetty offered lots of nudibranchs, banded pipefish, 
snake eels, sea snakes, crabs, and even a pair of ornate ghost pipefish
hanging around a discarded tire at 50 fsw.  It wasnt Lembeh, but, all in
all, it was pretty good diving.\

   All in all, a great trip.  Highly recommended.
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