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Dive Review of Tawali/Spirit of Niugini in
Papua New Guinea

May, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Lee McEachern, CA, usa (2 reports, with 2 Helpful votes)
Report Number 3787
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
US West Coast, Florida, Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico & other Central
America, Red Sea, Chuuk (Truk), Bikini, Marshall Islands, Australia,
Galapagos, and twice previously to Papua New Guinea.
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
50   to 120    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
This was a trip of experienced divers and that was (thankfully) recognized
by the operators and dive masters.  We had no restrictions (but I did
notice crew divers always were keeping a good lookout).  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
Lots 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
Schools 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
Water kept clean in rinse tank, crew handled photographic equipment
carefully, plenty of table space and towels for gear, plenty of chargers,
two locations (plus cabins) for work with gear and computers.
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  
For my tastes the diving in Papua New Guinea is the best in the world.  In
PNG I have seen the healthiest reefs, the largest diversity of species, the
largest schools and the largest individuals -- along with terrific viz
(depending on weather and proximity to shore).   My last two trips have
been to the Tawali Resort and, for this last trip, aboard the Spirit of
Niugini, operating from Tawali.  Its a big, comfortable dive boat with
great cabins and a dive as often as you want plan.  Our double cabin had
a large bathroom and windows that spanned the entire wall.  The rooms were
reliably cleaned every day.  Food was as good as I have ever had on a
liveaboard.  We traveled from Tawali up and around New Britain, finishing
in Kimbe Bay over a span of 12 days.  Dont expect a great number of big
animals  although you might get them.  You can get lucky and see whales,
whale sharks, mantas, hammerheads, etc.  But I dive PNG for the fantastic
reefs, the amazing schools of fish, exotic animals, plus the cant-be-beat
muck diving.  Go there with that in mind  and youll probably go back.  I
have to add, though, that I did see one of the very most impressive large
fish ever there:  A humongous goliath grouper with a mouth that could
easily slurp up a person.  This thing was the size of a Volkswagon and we
who saw it all just stopped and stared as it went by.

The weather was generally good with very little rain, fortunately.  

We did some great diving near Tawali at sites such as Lauadi, Deacons, etc.
 I got the best video Ive ever shot of cuttlefish that came close
regularly and flashed colors, along with octopus, mantis shrimp in extreme
close-up, crocodile fish, a hunting white-eyed eel, many active
nudibranchs, dragon sea moths, and others.

If you go, try to get to a dive site they call Wampas.   I would classify
it as one of the top dive sites in my diving history.  The richness of the
hard and soft corals, including large fields of huge elephant ear coral and
lettuce leaf coral, anemones (I know theyre common but they were very
impressive here) and a plethora of startlingly bright white sea fans are
just the beginning.  Enormous schools of fish are there most of the year. 
One very experienced diver told me that it was the best dive he had done in
twenty years.  He said he dropped down to the reef and just stayed in one
spot without moving, there was no much to see.  

We were fortunate enough to spend some extra time at a mooring in Rabaul
Harbor, about four miles from one of the many volcanoes.  Early one morning
there I was sitting on the back deck when I suddenly heard a BOOM!  I
looked up and saw a roiling cloud of black ash beginning to disgorge from
the volcano.  We were on our feet immediately, grabbing cameras and
recording the scene.  A black cloud churned far into the sky as an eruption
(which later made the newspapers) started.  And to think several of us had
been hiking around the base of this thing, getting a close view of the
steam and water boiling from the fissures, about 18 hours earlier!  Thats
not a dive story but it gives you a hint of how exotic and unpredictable
PNG is.

Our final dives in Kimbe Bay delivered a spectacle of an array of huge
gorgonians, the likes of which I have never seen before.  I estimated the
largest ones at about 14-feet wide.  And there were so many,
one-after-the-other, that it just gave a magical feel to the place.  I did
a very quiet dive by myself, just taking in the beauty of the place.  This
is certainly a true underwater wilderness, which so few people get a chance
to see and which really demands protection.  I really feel privileged to
have dived there and I keep my fingers crossed that it will be explored
only by people who respect it and who still have the capacity for awe.  PNG
is like that.  Ill be back.  And yes, Id happily dive again from the
Spirit of Niugini.
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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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