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

August, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Lori Brown, Chris Green, WA, USA
Sr. Contributor   (22 reports)
Report Number 2613
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
North Carolina, California, Washington, Bonaire, Cozumel, Fiji, Indonesia
(Irian Jaya, Sulawesi), Jamaica 
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
windy  
Seas
choppy  
Water Temp
77   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
15   to 30    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
No restrictions.  Divers were encouraged to dive their own profile.   
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
1 or 2 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
1 or 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 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  
3 stars  
Comments
There were charge stations in the library and tables for cameras on boats. 
They carried water on the boat to rinse cameras.  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
3 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
3 stars   
Advanced
4 stars    
Comments  
Tawali Resort is near the bottom tip of the North Coast of PNG near Alotau,
the capital of Milne Bay.  Alotau (Gurney Airfield) is an hour flight from
Port Moresby.  Then there is an hour long drive: the road starts out paved,
then changes to well graded gravel, then to a rutted dirt road - with much
swerving to avoid the numerous  pigs. This is followed by a 10 minute boat
ride to the resort.
The diving was superb.  We went on their muck dives repeatedly (Micheles
Beach and Lawadi). These muck dives rival some sites in Lembeh Straits.
There were so many ornate ghost pipefish and robust ghost pipefish that
after a while, we were just passing them by.  Other critters we saw were
nudibranchs galore, mushroom coral pipefish, cockatoo wasp fish, hairy
arrow crabs, decorator crabs, crinoid crabs, orange mantis shrimp, octopus,
tube anemones, tiny upside down jellyfish, small cuttle fish, and gobies/
blennies galore.  There was an outrageous cleaning station at Micheles
that was hopping with life: at least six different types of shrimps
(hingebeak shrimps so numerous it looked like an infestation), a
yellow-mouth moray eel, toby fish, conies, anemones percolating with clown
fish, toby fish, and swarms of fish of all sizes, cleaning or getting
cleaned. One spectacular purple anemone near a cleaning station had several
porcelain crabs, some other tiny crabs, shrimp, and a boatload of anemone
fish - easily over 100- clowns and damsel fish ranging from 0.2 to 2.5
inches. I started feeling like I had attention deficit disorder - as soon
as Id focus on something, Id get distracted by something else: in one
gorgonian clump, there were razor fish, ornate ghost pipe fish, a gorgonian
shrimp, and a cowry. The dive guides, Fidelis and Junior, were both great
at spotting critters. 
We also dived the walls near the resort including sites such as Wahoo, 
Barracuda Point, and Sponge Heaven.  Wahoo is a 3 minute boat ride from the
resort and on several dives before, hammer heads had been sited.  We
spotted one gray reef shark in the distance but no hammerheads.  My
favorite nearby wall was Barracuda Point.  This is an imposing wall with
cascading plateaus of Montipora coral.  There are deep caverns and
swim-throughs.  We spotted dozens of nudibranchs - some we had never seen
before.
The bad news now, on some of the dives, the stinging medusa were so bad
that we aborted the dives. Vinegar helps but I think some people react more
strongly than others and my son had a strong reaction. He had quite a
collection of itchy welts on his neck, face, and hands.  Also, because of
the high winds, the visibility was quite limited on all of the dives we
did.  On some dives, we were unable to see more than 15-20 feet.  This was
unfortunate because the coral structure is so imposing, I imagine it would
be spectacular if the visibility had been better.  The main problem was the
southeasterly winds were brutal.  As a result of the relentless wind,
visibility was poor at the protected dive sites near the resort and still
worse, we were unable to get out to any of the dive sites that were further
out.  This was a great disappointment.  Though little consolation for us,
Rob Van Der Loos, one of the owners, said that he has never seen  winds
like that in 30 years in that area. And, to his credit, he did everything
he could to try to get us to the fringing reef sites.
On the last day, the winds died down enough that they were taking divers
out to one of the nearer far sites.  We couldnt go since we would fly the
next day.   Rob made it up to us by taking us on a really great dive - the
nautilus dive.  They set a baited trap out at 1000 feet the night before.
Then they ferry the divers and the nautilus over to Wahoo Point.  Divers
and nautilus dive together.  After the photographers have had their fun,
the nautilus are carried to a deep spot and released.  I have never seen a
live nautilus before and saw three that day.
The resort is new and it is stunning.  The rooms are large and clean.  Each
room has a deck with a view and there is even a rack to hang wet clothing.
The shower water is heated by sun but there is a booster for overcast days.
The entrance to the lodge area has four fabulous carved crocodiles and the
decor in the rooms and the lodge are splendid and included some old diving
helmets. The lodge includes a beautiful veranda overlooking the sea, a
comfortable sitting area for reviewing books after the days dives, and a
dining area.  The meals were plentiful but very plain - usually plain
roasted meats - mostly chicken and beef, potatoes and/or rice, and salad.
There was one day on which they served Thai chicken which was quite good. 
Though my own taste runs to much spicier food, I cant complain too much
since they were very gracious about accommodating my son who will only eat
a few things including fried fish, hamburgers, and french fries. There is
also a bar where beer, wine,  mixed drinks, or soda may be purchased. The
mixed drinks were marginal - on several nights, there was no ice (gin and
tonic without ice just doesnt quite cut it). One of the owners, Ronda,
told me that they are working on getting some blended drinks - a good idea
because of the variety of fruit available. There are also plans for a
conference center (and theater), swimming pool, and a recompression
chamber.   
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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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