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Dive Review of Tawali in
Papua New Guinea/Milne Bay

August, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Stephanie Knott, CA, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 3520
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Fiji, Cook Islands, Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef, Little Caymen,
Cozumel, Belize, Saba, Baja, California, Hawaii
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, choppy  
Water Temp
79   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Dives were guided, max depth 100 feet.  You could probably have dived
separately.  Crew recorded depth and time after every dive.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
On the Explorer, rinse bucket for cameras and large table for cameras and
other equipment.  On smaller boats, just a small bench.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
We were a little concerned about travelling to Papua New Guinea, given what
we had read about how dangerous Port Moresby is.  We never left the
airport, however, except to walk between the domestic and international
terminals.  There were a lot of people hanging around outside, but noone
bothered us.  Only people with tickets are allowed inside either terminal. 

Our flight on Air Nuigini from Port Moresby to Alotau, the nearest airport
to Tawali, was uneventful.  The return flight on Airlines PNG, however, was
delayed by four hours.  It seems that the airline decided to use the plane
for a few other trips before coming to pick us up.  Consequently, we missed
our connection to Brisbane and on to Sydney.  We were rescheduled to
Cairns, where we spent the night (missing our reservation for that night in
Sydney) and flew out early the next morning.  Airlines PNG picked up the
tab, including a good dinner, but we lost some sleep in having to catch a
6:30 am flight.

Tawali is a very nice resort.  The rooms are large, with two comfortable
queen beds and a deck overlooking the water.  The deck had towel racks for
drying gear, which was nice.  The rooms have ceiling fans and good air
conditioning (although it's a bit loud), and there was plenty of hot water.
 Each room was part of a duplex, however, and you could feel neighbors
walking around.  We were informed that none of the in-room safes worked,
but you could leave valuables in the resort safe.

The main lounge and dining room were cooled by fans and were also large and
pleasant.  However, the doors did not have springs to keep them closed, and
they would blow open (and bang shut) in the wind.  The noise was annoying,
and open screen doors do not exclude mosquitoes.  We occasionally got bites
in the dining room and lounge, although overall the bugs weren't much of a
problem.  One great thing about the lounge:  free and fast wireless

The staff were all very pleasant and helpful.  The only negative about the
resort is the food.  It was generally adequate with good variety (wins the
prize for creative use of leftovers), including soup every night.  In two
weeks, we only had fresh fish two or three times.  The chicken was usually
good, but the beef was tough.  There was usually, but not always, fresh
fruit for dessert.  Dinner desserts were invariably ice cream with some
sort of plain cake (although once there was a very good chocolate mousse). 
The wine selection was very limited, as they were out of most of the white
wines on the menu. 

We dove from either the 60-foot Explorer or one of two 15?-foot boats.  We
never had more than seven divers on the Explorer or four on the smaller
boats, which had dual outboard engines.  (I think they have other boats as
well, but they weren't at the resort at the time.)  The Explorer was very
comfortable, with a large covered area, bench for cameras and gear, camera
rinse bucket, mask rinse bucket (by special photographer request), and
marine head with warm shower.  The Explorer was used to go to the outer
reefs and occasionally to nearer sites, if there were at least four divers.
 The smaller boats were partially covered and were used for shorter trips.

The diving was excellent, although the outer reef sites (bommies) generally
had larger schools of larger fish.  If weather permitted and there were
more than four divers, we went to the outer reef (about 1-1/2 hours away). 
However, if anyone wanted to go to closer sites (for example, muck sites),
the resort would arrange a smaller boat to accomodate them.  Trips to the
outer reef included three dives, with snacks and hot drinks between dives
and lunch after the second dive.  Trips to the closer sites included two
dives, with lunch served back at the resort.  Afternoon and night dives
were available on request.  We did a dusk dive near the resort to see the
elusive mandarinfish but were disappointed:  the much anticipated spawning
didn't happen that evening.

There were lots of pristine hard corals and areas of soft corals, with
large barrel sponges.  There were many snappers, jacks, fusiliers,
barracuda, the occasional shark or turtle, and lots of smaller tropicals
(tons of anthias).  We saw cuttlefish on at least half the dives and lots
of different nudibranchs.  On the outer reefs, we also saw hairy ghost
pipefish (twice), harlequin ghost pipefish, thin pipefish, pigmy seahorses
(how the guides find them...), Milne Bay epaulette sharks, and leaf
scorpionfish.  Closer sites included walls and muck sites.  The muck sites
had lots of interesting critters, including harlequin ghost pipefish,
mantis shrimp, harlequin shrimp, fire fileshells, porcelain and decorator
crabs, bubble shells, more nudibranchs, tiny (half-inch) frogfish, a large
and brightly colored sea urchin (Asthenosoma sp.?), sea stars, various
juvenile fish, and so many lionfish (of several species) that we stopped
looking at them, except so as to be able to avoid them.

The dive staff were great:  always pleasant, helpful, more knowledgeable
than most we've encountered, and enterprising (when one of the engines on
the smaller boat failed, they immediately arranged for another boat to pick
us up so we wouldn't be delayed).  Dive times usually exceeded an hour. 
Divers usually set up their gear for the first dive of the day, and the
staff changed out the tanks thereafter.  They did not rinse one's gear,
however, except after the final dive of the trip.

We highly recommend Tawali!
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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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