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Dive Review of Tawali in
Papua New Guinea/Milne Bay

Tawali, Aug, 2007,

by Stephanie Knott, CA, USA ( 2 reports). Report 3520.

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

Weather cloudy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79 to 0 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
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.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
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 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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 internet!

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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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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