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Dive Review of Mike Ball, Paradise Sport in
Papua New Guinea/Milne Bay

Mike Ball, Paradise Sport, Dec, 2005,

by Martin Heyn, WA, USA . Report 2241.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 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 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The danger of diving in Papua New Guinea is coming to expect the amazing on every dive and around every bend of the reef.

GETTING THERE: Frankly, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere getting to Alatou is a long, boring and sweaty exercise in discomfort. With camera gear, we were well over the 77lbs/person limit for Air New Guinea, maybe by luck we did not get fined on any of the domestic flights. We did take two carry-ons each, but the second has to be a laptop or camera bag. We did have a layover at the Coral Tree Inn in Cairns. It is a simple and very basic motel. The room was clean, staff friendly but we would not stay there again due to its very Spartan set-up.

The Paradise Sport is a very comfortable and well laid out boat for divers. We did step up to a Premium room and it was well worth it. As usual you move into your room, set up your tank, then upstairs for Champagne, crew intros, procedures and dinner. The Paradise Sport has plenty of room inside and out for lounging and relaxing. The boat was well maintained and rooms cleaned daily. Peter the chef did a great job! The quality and variety of meals was excellent and we have never eaten so much lobster. Hot showers on the dive deck, with warm towels and attentive crew members made 4-6 dives a day a pleasure. The crew was so attentive if you got out with your fins on, they would run down and take them off for you!

The camera table was large, with air hoses for drying of gear. Plenty of storage under it for extra gear, though it is a narrow area. Enough room for a smaller Pelican carryon or camera backpack. The table is probably about 4ft up so if your short you may find you need something to stand on. There is a separate charging station with plenty of 110 outlets; I never used the power converters we brought. The crew is well versed in dealing with cameras. One note we only had about 5 photographers on the trip.

Dive briefs are short and to the point. Peter the “Trip Director” and the entire Mike Ball crew, treat you like adults. There are dive guides on every dive or they will let you and your buddy alone to dive your own profile. The majority of dives are from the rear of the Paradise Sport with maybe 6-7 from the zodiac tenders. Once the dive deck is open, about 7am, you can get in as many dives as your computer allows. Mike Ball does have a solo diver program which I took advantage of.

You would typically stay at a site for ½ day then the boat would move on to the next site during lunch or before you woke the next day. At many sites they would put in several dive guides to help locate some of the incredibly small and rare creatures. Without the crew there is no way we would have found many of them. BOMMIE profiles would typically start at 70-80ft, enjoying the wall and looking into the blue for pelagics. Then you would work you way to the top 15-30ft of water to enjoy the bright and colorful schools of fish and mix of hard/soft corals. Sites are rich in a diversity of angels, butterflies and more varieties of anthias then we knew existed. We were astounded by how pristine and healthy the corals were. There had been a fair amount of rain prior to our arrival. Visibility was well over 60-80ft but there was a fair amount of particles in the water. Milne Bay is not a big animal destination. That said, we had a great dive to the B17 Bomber in 150ft of water. We did see huge bump head parrot fish, massive Napoleon wrasses, and barracuda. In addition we did have fleeting encounters with 2 hammerhead sharks, devil rays, turtles, and from the deck spotted pods of dolphins and pilot whales.

Muck dives no deeper than 20ft and 90 minutes were common. Like the bommies, the range of creatures was incredible. Lionfish became commonplace; nudibranch, pipefish, puffers and clown fish living in huge anemones were everywhere. We did find a few of the more rare leaf fish, crocodile fish, etc, on our own. BUT without the guides, (thanks, Pete “Chef” and Sticky!) we would have missed the ornate pipefish frogfish, pygmy seahorses and so many others. Many of these creatures do not move much, the guides place a 1-2ft stick in the sand to note a spot with a hard to see critter. There are quite a few stinging creatures, lionfish, scorpion fish, demon stingers, blue ring octopus, etc… Life is so abundant you have to be very careful if you put a finger down to steady yourself. LAND EXCURSIONS: There are several opportunities to go on land an visit with the local people, observe tribal dances, see the amazing hot springs and visit the Skull Caves. Many of the indigenous people lead very simple lives with no power, phones, etc, and living in simple lodgings made of palms and bamboo. Typically in the morning you would wake up to find 7-8 canoes behind the boat, as locals would trade fresh fruit and fish with the boat for rice and other staples.

Great trip and we will dive with Mike Ball again, once the credit cards recover.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Roatan/Utila, Indonesia, Provo, Caymans, Hawaii, Coz, Turks, Bonaire, Thailand, PNW
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-84°F / 27-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-80 Ft/ 18-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions They had dive guides on every dive that you could follow or you could dive your own profile. They also have a Solo Diver Program
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

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