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Dive Review of Tufi Dive in
Papua New Guinea/Tufi

June, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by David Dornbusch, CA, US
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6136
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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 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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  
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  
 
 

Overall Rating

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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Other dive reports on Tufi Dive

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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