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

Peter Hughes Diving/Star Dancer, Jul, 2009,

by Reuben Cahn, CA, U.S.A. ( 2 reports). Report 5197.

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

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 84 to 26 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minutes bottom time for first and last dives of day.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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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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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