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Dive Review of Tawali Resort in
Papua New Guinea/Milne Bay

June, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Fred Turoff, PA, USA (15 reports)
Report Number 3435

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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
PNG: Kimbe Bay; Indonesia: Kpmodo, Kungkungen Bay, Raja Ampat; Malaysia:
Sipadan; Belau & Yap; Fiji; East Pacific: Sea of Cortez,
Revillagigedos, Coco; Red Sea; many Caribbean sites
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, rainy, cloudy  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
79   to 82    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
5
Water Visibility
15   to 80    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Our deepest dive was to 87 feet, but most were much shallower with long
dive times the norm. No problem - plenty to see.  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
1 or 2 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
Schools 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Comments
Cameras were kept in rooms, so they had to be carried down to the boat and
back up. The rinse tank by the dock was adequate but not always filled for
us, however filling it was easy. Dive guides treated cameras well and were
eager to show UW life. Silt on bottom and in water after rain and runoff
interfered with photography some.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
Tawali Resort is situated on a peninsula, about 60 feet above sea level.
The resort is comfortable and welcoming, with native woods, architecture
and artwork all around. The main salon sits in a large building that
includes the reception area, dining room, kitchen and store. Meals were
delicious, plentiful, varied in main courses, and accompanied by fresh
local fruit attractively decorating the main serving table. Waitresses and
cooks were responsive and attentive, as was management. We ate most meals
with co-owner Rob van der Loos, who has been in this area his whole life
and is full of stories and knowledge. All guest rooms are nearby, with
wooden walkways connecting all areas.

The dive dock is at the bottom of a wooden walkway on one side of the
peninsula while the dive shop is on the other side, down another walkway,
next to a local village. Once you do your first dive, all gear is kept at
the dive shop between boat trips, washed and dried when it can be. However,
camera gear is kept in your room, and is carried down and up by you, unless
you ask a dive guide to help.

Underwater life was varied and plentiful. We did most dives at nearby
reefs, and most were relatively shallow, which allowed us lots of time to
see the critters and fish indigenous to Milne Bay. Dives often lasted over
80 minutes, with a top length of 122 minutes. The dive boats used for these
trips were small, fitting 4-6 comfortably, although during my visit the
biggest group we had was five divers and one snorkeler. Both boats had
sun-cover, so we could avoid lots of sun if so desired. A central table
unit held cameras, snack, towels and drinks. A rinse tank for cameras was
lacking on these small boats, but since these dives were relatively local,
we dunked cameras when we returned in the tank by the dive dock. We had a
trip one day to outer reefs on the Chertan, the liveaboard that Rob
operated in previous times. This gave us three dives away from the resort
area where we found a lacey scorpionfish and epaulette sharks on two of
them, which gave us photographers excellent subjects.

Our dive guides were able to give us personal attention, as the dive groups
were small. They did their best to find us all manner of UW life to see and
photograph. As I was there in the low season, and the group of guests who
were there when I was arrived and left on different schedules, occasionally
our dive group dropped to two and once, only me. Spending a 90+ minute dive
with my own guide gave me plenty of photo-ops. My trip occurred at the
start of the rainy season, and days two-five proved this. We had nearly
constant rain for these four days and nights, so gear stayed wet. The rain
provided one unusual outing on the fourth rainy day, as we began a dive
under overcast, drizzly skies. Perhaps an hour into the dive, we noticed a
brown river overhead that turned into a brown cloud. It was the runoff from
four days of rain emptying into the bay. This spread over the entire
surface, making day into twilight. It must have confused the critters, as a
peacock mantis shrimp, normally skittish and staying near its burrow during
the day, stood on a flat area and allowed us photographers close access
with several minutes of image-making. Upon ending our dive, we pierced
perhaps 3 feet of cooler, fresh but muddy water with a half-inch visibility
to reach the surface. I couldn’t see my outstretched arm until my faceplate
emerged from the muddy layer.

The variety of nudibranchs and flatworms I saw equaled or beat my trip two
years ago to Kungkungen Bay. Our guides found pygmy seahorses (H. Denise)
on several dives, but of course when I set up my camera for extreme
close-up (105mm and a +4 diopter), we found none. Ghost pipefish of several
varieties were regularly found, with a large variety of reef fish as well.
Cuttlefish appeared on many dives, and on the dive where we found a
blue-ring octopus, we also observed two large day octopi involved in mating
ritual that covered several coral heads. Three different species of mantis
shrimp were seen, including one female peacock mantis with eggs. Numerous
other shrimp and crab species were found in anemones, crevices and on the
sand or mud. Another mating ritual was observed when we found a female and
two male Pegasus sea moths. Frogfish occurred on only a few dives, and
large fish were seldom seen on the local dives. I found a 1.5cm adult
Moyer’s dragonet looking like a white kite with red highlights. A pod of
spinner dolphins visited the bay next to the resort and entertained us
twice, plus when returning from the day trip to outer reefs on the Chertan,
a pod of them played in our bow wave for over five minutes. Once, on the
way to a nearby dive site, we passed a Minke whale going the other way.
From the outdoor lounge area at the resort, those watching the sea saw a
leaping Minke whale and a leaping manta.

Getting to Tawali involves a trip through Port Moresby, PNG. During my
6-hour layover there between flights, I went to the Airways Hotel for a
meal to pass time. During this time I took a taxi to PNG Arts, a showroom
of native artwork, and had the driver wait for me to take me back to the
hotel, where I had checked my carry-on luggage. During the trip I noticed
almost all buildings had surrounding walls topped with razor wire,
indicating quite a problem with what the taxi driver described as
“rascals,” which we would describe a thieves and thugs. I was warned not to
venture in public with valuables, including a camera on my shoulder. Anyone
traveling through Port Moresby will have to keep that in mind.
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Other dive reports on Tawali

All Papua New Guinea Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Papua New Guinea
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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