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

Tawali/Spirit of Niugini, May, 2007,

by Lee McEachern, CA, usa ( 2 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 3787.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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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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