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Dive Review of Tufi Dive in
Papua New Guinea/Tufi

Tufi Dive, Jun, 2011,

by David Dornbusch, CA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6136.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Palau, Yap, Belize, Roatan, Fiji, Indonesia, Sipidan, Hawaii, Red Sea, Cozumel, Great Barrier Reef, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Galapagos, Tonga
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 83 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minute dives - plenty of time
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Getting there: From San Francisco took 2 days, with an overnight in Brisbane, then connecting through Port Moresby. First visited Walindi, then connected through Port Moresby to Tufi. Avoided staying in Port Moresby overnight, staying instead at Loloata, only a 20 minute drive and 10 minute boat ride from the airport.

Airlines in PNG can be very unreliable. All our PNG flights were at least an hour late. We noticed that a number of flights were canceled, though ours were not. So, we were very glad we took an Undercurrent reviewers recommendation and booked through Bettina Schmidberger, Diversion Dive Travel [bettina@diversiondivetravel.com.au].

Bettina recommended allowing scheduling cushions that were always adequate. The two days she suggested in Brisbane after leaving PNG and before connecting home might have been very important, since we left PNG from Tufi. The Tufi airport runway is dirt and closes during, and for some time after, heavy rains when it turns to mud. In fact, it did close for a day shortly before we left.

Bettina also got us the divers extra baggage allowance of an additional 10 kg. on Airlines PNG, and an extra 15 kg. on Air Niugini. The allowance was very important, since we carry all our own gear, the normal weight allowance is 20 kg., and overweight luggage charges are VERY high. We never had to pay extra.

It's possible for individuals to get the "diver's extra baggage allowance" themselves, but I think trying that without professional help might be problematic. When checking in on Airlines PNG to Tufi, I had to produce a computer printout that confirmed our extra baggage allowance and referenced the relevant provision in the airline's manual. Until I produced that printout, the counter attendant, who was unfamiliar with the extra diver weight allowance, was adamant about charging me extra, and I had to find a supervisor to confirm the allowance.

The local airlines can also be sticky about the weight of carry-ons. They never weighed my backpack, which held my BC and reg. and weighed over 13 lbs. But, they sometimes weighed my wifes carry-on suitcase, which weighed only about 10 lbs. When they did weigh it, she had to take out 3 lbs. to meet the 7 lb. limit. She did that by boarding the plane wearing her BC like a vest and putting some other items into her "purse." She simply put her BC into the overhead compartment then back into the carry-on bag on arrival.

Lodging: Our room was large, very clean, had a deck with great view, very comfortable queen-sized bed, a separate single bed, plenty of storage space, and a small refrigerator stocked daily with fresh water. The bathroom had a small shower with plenty of hot water. Soap but not shampoo was provided. Fresh towels whenever you want. Air conditioning and a quiet ceiling fan. Mosquitoes were a problem, so needed bug repellent whenever we were outside.

Meals: For most of the time, the meals were very good. Shaun, the manager for our first 7 days was a former chef and had improved the menus from what he said was the previous preponderance of fried food. Under his supervision, we were fed very tasty and lighter meals. However, four days before we left, Shaun was replaced for reasons that were never explained and confused us, since we thought him terrific, making our initial stay very enjoyable. Under the new manager, lunches and some dinners shifted back to mostly fried foods. They were good, but not great.

We were surprised by an elaborate special dinner on our second Saturday, promoted as their twice-a-year degustation and wine tasting event, which we would have gladly avoided if we had known about it before. The 7-course dinner and the Australian and New Zealand wines were interesting, plentiful, but not that appealing to us. We are admittedly spoiled by dining in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we dont drink much alcohol on dive trips. The event filled the lodge with people from Port Moresby, who partied until 1:00 AM Friday night, keeping us awake with blaring music.

Breakfast included fruit, juices, cereals, tea, coffee, toast, and pancakes. Eggs/omelets were available by special order at an additional charge. An adequate lunch was served at the resort. Coffee and tea were always available.

Diving: The diving was wonderful. The boats and dive guides were all very capable, personable, and well-trained. The main dive boat was fast, which was good, because the more distant reefs were an hour away. Nitrox was not available. On the day of the degustation event, the divers and snorkelers were too numerous for the smaller fast boat, so we used the larger but very slow boat. On all other days, we were never more than 3 or 4 divers, twice it was just me and my wife, and once I had the boat and dive guide to myself. Time to the inner reefs was 30 minutes, the mid-reefs 45 minutes, the outer reefs 60 minutes, where currents brought in the pelagics and huge schools.

Diving varied from very good to among the best-in-the-world excellent. We never saw any bleached coral. Some dives were on a par with Palau, Fiji, Indonesia and Sipidan. Magnificent and plentiful hard and soft corals, huge schools and varieties of large and small reef fish, turtles, beautiful nudibranchs and flat worms galore, a few hammerhead sharks, a bull shark, white tips and reef sharks, barracuda schools, tuna, mackerel, sweet lips schools, cuttlefish, scorpion fish, lionfish, crocodile fish, very large seafans, sponges and giant clams (a few were 6 feet across), anemone and anemone fish. Mandarin fish and electric clams on an evening dive off the resort dock. The dive guides love to show you small and unusual critters. We were the only divers and dive boat in sight on every dive. Air temp. was 82-87 degrees F, water temp. 83-86 F. I wore only a skin on every dive. My wife added a 3 mm. top to her skin, but shes always cold. Gloves would be a good idea when holding on to the outer reefs in currents. Make sure to visit Cyclone, and possibly also Mullaway and Veales. But I saw the bull shark and wonderful stuff at the closest reefs, including Pauls, Bevs and Marians.

Culture: We had specially timed our trip to attend what was advertised in the Tufi Resort website, and even noted in Lonely Planet, as the Tufi Cultural Festival, supposed to be a 3-day event, bringing together the numerous regional clans for traditional Sing-Sing performances, demonstrations and sale of arts and crafts, etc. It didnt happen. Even though the resort charged us $600 up front for admission to the Festival, when we arrived we found out that no one at the resort or in the clans expected it to take place and were surprised we expected to attend. We were given a $400 credit, since dances were performed for resort guests by small groups, and we were taken by outrigger canoe to demonstrations of tattooing, sago bread making, etc. But, a clan leader confided to me that if the Festival had taken place, as it had in past years, we would have seen not just small groups from two clans, but large groups from 28 clans, all with their unique outfits, body paint, and dances.
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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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