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Dive Review of Star Dancer in
Papua New Guinea/Rabaul

July, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Lori Brown, Chris Green, WA, USA
Sr. Contributor   (22 reports)
Report Number 2749
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
California, Florida, North Carolina, Washington, Bonaire, Cozumel, Fiji,
Indonesia (Irian Jaya, Sulawesi), Jamaica
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
Water Temp
77   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
We boarded the Star Dancer in Rabaul for the 8 day Rabaul to Rabaul
itinerary.  Rabaul is on the north-eastern tip of New Britain and is a few
hours flight from Port Moresby. This was our first live aboard - we had
been saving the trip for when we felt our 14 year old son was old enough to
enjoy the trip.  This was the year.  Our first dive was on the Atun boat
wreck.  This was a fishing boat that was intentionally sunk for divers. 
The boat was a good dive and large enough that it was possible to spread
out enough on the boat to avoid other divers.  The next dive was at The
Valley.  There were numerous sea fans and sea whips.  Several divers
spotted a shark in the distance which they were convinced was a bull shark.
 The last dive of the day was a muck dive at a site called Alans Place. 
But, before the dive, there was a little excitement as one of the locals
had been out spearfishing and had been pulled out to sea by the undertow. 
One of the crew took off in the tender boat to look for the lost fisherman
and the Star Dancer chugged around looking for him.  It was a bit tense - I
selfishly feared seeing a body bobbing up and down in the water.  But word
came back that the fisherman had been pulled out by the undertow but
managed to get to land and walked back to town. During the dive that night,
we saw many shrimp/goby pairs, coris wrasse, crinoid shrimp, and a number
of nudibranchs.  Our dive at Middle Reef was exciting because of a blue
ring octopus that was waiting for us on the mooring.  By the 4th day of
diving, they started chumming for sharks - some of the divers were
disappointed because we hadnt really seen any big fish.  But the chumming
didnt attract any sharks nor did we see any for the remainder of the trip.
 One of the best dives of the trip was a muck dive  Linguan.  We saw many
pipefish, an anemone that went on and on without end filled with a wide
variety of anemone fish, crabs, shrimp - and I mean huge anemone, sea
whips.   A contender for the best dive of the trip was the jetty in Rabaul.
There were cockatoo wasp fish, lion fish, a boiling mass of catfish,
flounder, and frog fish.  A moray eel swam up into one of the dive guides
(Josies) BC and swam out the arm hole.  She panicked and flailed around
but to her credit, she didnt bolt to the surface.  While we were under the
jetty, there were more and more local kids freediving from the surface and
yanking at our equipment. It was good natured but a bit annoying.
     Accomodations on the Star Dancer were excellent and the food, though a
bit plain, was good. However, overall, we were disappointed by the
itinerary that we picked.  We traveled from Rabaul west to the north-west
tip of New Britain and back.  The diving (compared to other locations in
PNG) was a bit disappointing. I think the Rabaul to Walindi trip would have
been better diving.  I was also a bit disappointed because of a
preconceived expectation that there would be camaraderie amongst the divers
but this just didnt develop. Instead, there was a group of 5 buddies who
had been in a dive club together and had also dived with the Captain and 
other senior crew. As a result there was kind of a clique thing going and
it was sort of like being stuck on a boat with mean girls - if you know
what I mean.
     Ironically, the saving grace of this leg of our dive journey in PNG
was the land attractions.  During the last couple days of the trip, the
volcano, Tavurvur, was pumping plumes of ash every half hour or so.  The
view was spectacular as the heavy ash could be seen to be sifting out of
the plume to earth as strong winds carried away long continuous streams of
steam.   We also went on a land tour of Rabaul that included a visit to
Admiral Yamamotos bunker and tunnels built (with slave labor) for living
quarters for soldiers and to accommodate barges brought in to supply the
Japanese during WWII.  We toured an observation point for the volcano where
there was a hot spring pouring into the bay.  On the trip to and from, the
truck we were in became stuck several times in the deep ash from the recent
volcanic activity.  
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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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