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Dive Review of Hughes Star Dancer/Walindi in
Papua New Guinea/Kavieng-Kimbe Bay

Hughes Star Dancer/Walindi, May, 2004,

by Peter J Maerz, FL, USA . Report 1048.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bimini, Bonaire, Cozumel, Dominica, Fiji, Guanaja (Bay Islands, Honduras), Little Cayman, St. Lucia, St. Vincent
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 84 to 88 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 90 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions None; 5-minute safety stop strongly recommended
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments See Report

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments PRELIMINARIES: Booked with Peter Hughes Diving in Miami. Michelle, Jeff first rate, professional.

PREPARATIONS: Brought double almost everything: computer, reg, booties, mask. Visited a travel clinic for inoculations and essential Malaria prophylaxis.
Prepared extensive medical kit. Brought LOTS of diversions for 30+ hours of air travel (crosswords, books, MP3s).

TRAVEL: Used Delta frequent flier miles to code-share with Continental. As such, was relegated to the scenic route: MIA-IAH; IAH-HNL; HNL-GUM; GUM-CNS.
Arrived Cairns, Austrailia 11:30pm local time (14 hours ahead of EDT). Spent one day touring lovely Kuranda in Queensland (a great way to spend a day).

Next day, flew Air Niugini CNS-POM (Port Moresby). Had exchanged $ for Kina (PNG currency) in Cairns and thus had the 100 needed for entry and exit. Immigration and customs a snap. Met just outside the door by Airways rep. Escorted by armed guard to van (the Raskols are a threat in POM) and whisked the three minutes to hotel. Beautiful facility, extremely friendly and helpful staff, very good food, great pool with a view.

Next day, flew POM to Kavieng, stayed at Malagan Beach Resort. A bit run down and mediocre food, but nice setting and very quiet. Boarded Star Dancer next afternoon.

STAR DANCER, CABIN: Great liveaboard. Had Cabin 3a, forward, portside. Firm, comfortable Queen bed, facing large picture window. Loads of storage space, large bathroom with tub/shower. U.S-style, 110-volt outlet on wall with additional plugs on reading lights mounted over bed.

DIVE DECK: Sturdy aluminum benches with built-in tank holders. Typical for liveaboards: once gear set up, it stays on tank, filled immediately by whips after each dive. Webbed plastic bucket for booties, masks, lights, etc under each bench. Two large, solid rinse tanks for wetsuits and gear. One large tank for cameras only. Plenty of space for hanging wetsuits. Well-sheltered, large, two-tiered, carpeted camera table with pressurized air hose. Photogs kept cameras set up on table entire trip. Sheltered charging station: one tier for 220 volt, one for 110. Two, heavy-flowing, hot water showers on deck, towels fresh from the dryer after every dive. Gear thoroughly rinsed by crew at end of each day.

OTHER DECKS: Lido deck (above dive/stateroom deck): Large indoor Salon/Dining Room, lined with windows. Large TV monitor, VCR, stereo with surround speakers, plenty of reference ID books. Top, lounge deck: half canopied with two large net hammocks and chaise lounges.

DIVE SCHEDULE: 6:30-1st Dive. 8:00-Hot breakfast. 9:30-2nd Dive. 11:30-3rd Dive. 1:00pm-Lunch. 3:30-4th Dive. 6:30-5th (night) dive. 8:00- Dinner.

DIVE PROCEDURE: C-cards and DAN card carefully scrutinized. No one looked at a log book. Once youve signed your life away in the release, youre expected to be able to make your own decisions and be responsible for your own profile. Absolutely no admonishments or baby sitting. Two excellent guide/instructors always in the water (and always finding the good stuff). You must record your tank pressure, O2 percentage if on Nitrox, and depth on a clipboard. Excellent briefings, though pretty much carbon copy sites: seamounts or walls, with some great muck diving. Off the back dive deck (just inches above the water). Swim to front of boat, follow mooring line to reef.

DIVE EXPERIENCE: Wow! Incredible abundance, diversity and health of flora and fauna. got good photos of Mandarin fish, leaf scorpions, stonefish, banded pipefish, shrimp gobies, cuttlefish, crocodile fish and more nudis than a Diamond Dolls strip club: from pure white to electric, neon green with scarlet racing stripes and everything in between. Pygmy seahorses. Porcelain crabs. Free-swimming and attached feather star crinoids in every conceivable color scheme. And a blinding blizzard of reef fish with Moorish Idols and butterflies galore, brilliantly-colored regal, blue-saddled, and other angels and clouds of anthias. Huge expanses of completely undamaged hard and soft corals of so many varieties, shapes and colors, I couldnt find them all in the reference books. 15-foot wide, unblemished sea fans a common occurrence. Sea whips with Razor fish. Sponges. Tunicates. Unbelievable!

SURROUNDINGS: , dense, tropical rainforest island scenery, often relatively close to boat. Often, entire families of local folks silently sitting in outrigger dugout canoes as you surface from your dive. Breathtaking sunrises/sets. Seas pretty flat except for our steam from Kavieng to Fathers. Then, very heavy seas for 14 hours! Not common, says the Captain, but you should be prepared with motion sickness pills in the event!

CREW: Super. Friendly, fun, and very knowledgeable, home-grown and internationally-trained dive staff. Very sweet, demure, and thoughtful kitchen and housekeeping staff. Capt Raabe is worth the price of admission himself: a hilarious, energetic and very gregarious guy. Great raconteur. He lives up to the phrase swears like a sailor, but does so with such a keen wit and twinkle in his eye, its accepted by even the stodgiest passenger.

FOOD: Not great. Dry meat/chicken, limp fish,heavy sauces. Good deserts. Complimentary soda/juice. Wine served with dinner. Beer available in a cooler.

WALINDI RESORT: Beautiful, lush grounds in the midst of teeming rainforest in lovely Kimbe Bay. Large, very well-ventilated, meticulously-screened bungalows. Pretty good food. Great staff knows you by name from day one and, though unobtrusive, is ready at all times to attend to your needs. Outlets: 220 volt South Pacific plug configuration. Downside: sopping humidity with no AC can get to you. Also, the daily Mozzie (mosquito) threat is a bit disconcerting, even though there are not many flying about. I tired of being oiled with sweat and Ultracon repellent. Small dive boats are swift, but rides to the reefs (same ones visited on last leg of Dancer trip) are 30-45 minutes long. Gear mounted on tanks and laid on side. Back roll or giant stride. Lunch after two dives on beautiful Restorf island. Very capable crew.

Be sure to visit the Hot River (a 40-minute, very bumpy but scenic van ride through the oil palm plantation and rainforest), preferably on last day there. The volcanically-heated, rushing water feels great and the setting is lost-world paradise!

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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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