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Dive Review of MV Golden Dawn in
Papua New Guinea

MV Golden Dawn, Mar, 2011,

by Michael Emerson, MN, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 5983 has 1 Helpful vote.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Palau, Komodo, Raja Ampat, Lembeh, Solomons, Fiji, Galapagos
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 84 to 88 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Pretty hands off
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Boat facilities were pretty crowded. Fortunately we did not have many big time photographers on board so not too big of a problem. The boat did have good outlet availability which is important.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments In March of 2011, my adult daughter and I spent 10 days aboard the MV Golden Dawn, visiting the remote Eastern Fields of Papua New Guinea. For several years, this itinerary has been on my bucket list of dive sites to see during my continuing career. Craig Dewitt pioneered this entire area and his spirit is legendary.

Because the cruise leaves from Port Moresby, it eliminates the need to fly a small domestic flight to one of the remote cities. Nonetheless, getting to PNG is expensive and challenging compared to the Philippines or Indonesia. Air Niguini owns a monopoly on transportation and charged me $60/kilo for baggage weight overage on a flight out of Singapore. Ouch. Upon arrival into PNG, we spent an hour in a hot stinky luggage room to make our way through customs. One does not arrive refreshed.

A visit to the Eastern Fields requires a 10 to 12 hour steam from the mainland. Once there, you will find 125 foot visibility and probably the healthiest coral systems on the planet. Many of the dives included visits by swarming schools of jacks, fusiliers, and barracuda. Unfortunately, reality has hit this area, so the shark population has been reset to white tips which we saw on almost every dive. On the other hand, we did one dive back near PNG where we did see six species of sharks on one dive. Craig Dewitt has mastered the art of shark calling with a plastic bottle. Good for us, but it did land him in the hospital once. A big silver tip left a nice mark over his shoulder.

Carls Ultimate is one of the best five dive sites on the planet. A reef system about the size of a football field is covered with an explosion of life. The entire reef is covered by anthias and then overlaid with larger schools of bigger fish. For a day, you get to travel back in time to an earlier version of planet earth. I am privileged to have seen this. I have seen most of the worlds great fish dives and nothing is better.

The MV Golden Dawn was small for 11 of us, but first class. We had a great group of passengers and the food was great throughout the week. I did miss the much larger boats of Indonesia, but everyone was well fed and cared for. The boat reminded me of a scuba version of the African Queen. We were only missing Ms. Hepburn.

The diving is not for novices. Descents often required heavy finning into strong currents. Once down, the water moved erratically and could switch back halfway through the dive. You should be comfortable in doing a blue water ascent by yourself before you venture here. One dive site named Passport Point is so named because you may end up in another country for pickup if you miss the corner of the reef. I asked for the most likely destination and Craig told us that several islands were possible. Fortunately, the surface was dead calm which facilitated quick pickups. Craig left us alone to dive our own profile and route. We had guides on some sites, but we could dive as we wanted.

Closer to shore, we also got to do the flashlight fish dive. Just after sunset, you descend to the top of a sunken freighter with no artificial light. On cue, thousands of phosphorescent fish begin to pour forward from the center of the ship out into the area in front of us.. Kind of like an underwater version of the movie Cocoon. Amazing.

So if you are willing to venture to PNG and then cruise 12 hours out to the very edge of nowhere, you will be rewarded with coral reefs which are beautiful, pristine and clouded with fish. A handful of us got to see something special. While I crossed off one site from my bucket list, I already put this on an even smaller list of spots that deserves a second look. I would love to see Carls Ultimate at least one more time in my diving life.

You can see my photos from the trip at user name baywood16105 on Flickr.
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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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