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Dive Review of Tawali in
Papua New Guinea

Tawali: "Tawali", Nov, 2017,

by BOB HUCKABEE, CO, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 10056.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments As noted the canceled Air Niugini flight more research about the limited muck diving sites at Tawali.

We stayed at Tawali for about 2 weeks in November 2017. We met friends from Australia for the last week and they stayed here as well. Our friends concurred with our review rating of 3 stars. This review includes the resort itself and the dive operation. Our purpose for staying at Tawali was to dive the sites in Milne Bay.

The resort
The resort is situated at the top of a large hill and is located about 2 hours from the Alotau airport. The first 90 minutes from the Alotau airport to the resort are by air conditioned van on a very bumpy road and the last few minutes are by boat. There are 2 docks at the resort and they are on opposite sides at the bottom of the hill. The dive shop (which we did not visit) is near one of the docks. The restaurant, lobby, outdoor patio, and rooms are at the top of the hill.

The views from the lobby, outdoor patio, and rooms are very pretty. Half of the rooms face the main dock and the other half face the dock near the dive shop. The higher your room number, the farther you are from the restaurant and lobby. Pathways from the rooms to the lobby/restaurant are covered (which is convenient during frequent rains). The trek from either of the docks to the lobby is up several ramps and flights of stairs, not all of which are covered. The ramps can be slippery. The trek from one dock to the other is probably a quarter mile up and down ramps and stairs. I think there may be a boardwalk that may connect the two docks.

Our room was huge (room #16). We had two queen beds, a desk, an area for hanging clothes, tons of floor space, a large bathroom, and a large deck overlooking the ocean. There were two electrical outlets (Australian socket)- one near the coffee service shelf and one in the bathroom, so if you're diving you'll want to bring a power strip.

Our room was cleaned every day, but supplies were replaced on a hit-or-miss basis. If you need anything you can ask for it at reception and they will bring it to you. They provide 2 bottles of water and a pitcher of water each day because the faucet water is not potable. There is a small fridge in the room along with coffee, tea, sugar, packets for making milk, and shampoo and conditioner in the shower. We had to ask for coffee, tea, shampoo, conditioner, and toilet tissue replacement from time to time because it was missed during daily cleaning.

The air conditioner worked well and we usually had to turn it down at night because it could get quite cold. Lighting in the room was better than in many dive resorts. There is a drying bar on the balcony to dry dive gear, and a hair dryer was also provided upon request.

The food was plentiful but not overly imaginative and is served buffet style. Chances are the buffet will include coleslaw, shrimp, fish, at least one meat choice, fruit, and a starch. Dessert is served after dinner. If you have special requests you can ask the staff, or better yet ask for it in advance of your trip

Breakfast starts at 7:00 although some food items were available from 6:30 onward. They ask that you are on the dive boat at 8:00. I thought one hour would be tight but it turned out to be just fine. Lunch starts at noon and they keep lunch available for late arriving morning divers and late arriving guests from Alotau. Dinner starts at 7:00 at night. Often we didn't come in from the morning dive until about 1:30 in the afternoon and lunch was still available. Internet is only available in the lobby and restaurant and is moderately slow.

The resort staff was friendly but not overly so.

Tours
We did the village tour and the skull cave/waterfall tour. We brought toothbrushes and toothpaste from our dentist to give to the village. Many people bring school supplies. The village is happy to receive these things as well as any donation you can give. I think most village tours go by boat to and from the resort, but we walked back to the resort (around 2 miles) because the boat was in use. I didn't mind the walk but BE SURE to wear grippy sandals or shoes that can get wet. There were several log crossings over the creek and other crossings through the creek. The village kids are quite friendly and inquisitive. We took pictures and showed them the images - they were delighted. We promised to print them and mail them back (which we're in the process of doing now) so the village kids can have a copy. This is better than having pics printed at reception (cost is pretty high and quality is pretty low.) You'll visit a village that has a school, a church, and several community buildings. We were able to talk with quite a few locals which was wonderful. It's a good idea to take kina if you want to buy local crafts.

We also took the skull cave and waterfall tour. I loved this adventure. You go to the skull caves by boat and then climb about 10 minutes before you enter the skull cave. Very engaging. You then go by boat to the waterfall. Along the way you'll meet friendly kids and pass by a couple of locals selling crafts.

Dive Operation
There is one large dive boat and one or two small boats. Dive locations from the big boat are decided each night. The large boat will accommodate about 20 divers, but most days there were far fewer divers on the boat. If you don't like the dive site selection for the big boat, if you have 4 divers, and if a smaller boat is available, you can select to go to a different dive site. Usually there is one guide per 4 divers. We had several 80 - 90 minute dives, especially on the muck and shallower dives.

The boats can leave from one of two docks and there was some confusion on several days about which dock the boat would depart from. Because the docks are a fair distance from each other, it's best to confirm with the dive manager which dock to use. We got different answers when asking different personnel, so be sure to confirm with someone who knows.

Some guides were far better than others, and some guides know the muck site better than others. The complementary Tawali Dive Guide lists three muck sites, Towahi, Alison and Lawadi. Lawadi is a very good muck site either to the right of the mooring (cleaning station) or the left side. Towahi has some stuff but not near as good as Lawadi. The shallow part of Deaconís reef has lots of gobies with bull dozer shrip. We didnít dive Alison. The coral reef sites closer to the resort are average, and the coral reef sites further out (an hour or longer from the resort by boat) are a bit better. If you are there for muck diving it's important to note that there is just one relly good muck site and it is only reachable by boat. Since so many people want to dive the coral reefs and not the muck, you will need at least 4 muck divers in order to take the smaller boat unless the big boat is scheduled for muck diving (which only happens about once every 3 or 4 days.) Warning: the live-aboard boat dives these sites.

Snacks between dives are always available as is water, coffee, and tea. The big boat either schedules 2 morning dives and comes back to the resort for lunch, or schedules the 3 dives on the further reefs and includes lunch on the boat. IMHO the house reef is average at best. We did one dusk dive to see the mandarin fish. We've seen mandarin fish in several other places and I wasn't overly impressed with either the house reef or the mandarin fish activity. Keep in mind that dusk or night dives that include a dive guide cost extra. Don't assume you can exchange an afternoon for a dusk dive without additional cost unless you agree to this before the dive.

Help with your tank before dives was hit-or-miss. I ended up hoisting my tank and BC out of the hole by myself more often than not. It's been our experience in other places that the boat staff are ready and able to help you get into your BC, but I didn't find this to always be the case at Tawali. However, changing tanks between dives and overnight was always done by the boat crew. I left my wetsuit on the boat overnight because the staff dunked the wetsuits in soapy water and left them to dry. This was very convenient. Be sure to analyze your tanks when diving with nitrox. The oxygen content varied from 29 to 34 %.

Conclusion
There is much to like about Tawali (it is very remote and is situated in a beautiful area). The one muck site is great, and we dove this site at least 12 times before a storm came and messed up the muck site. The one time we dove it after the storm it was not as good, so timing and good luck can make a big difference in your muck experience. I should have done more research about the muck sites near Tawali - I wished there were more
. The coral reef sites were okay but I think I am getting harder to impress. I'd say they were not as good as Beatrice or Sombrero in the Philippines (Batangas Bay - but keep in mind that info is over 10 years old) but better than most sites in the Caribbean. There is some current on the coral reefs, especially those furthest from the resort.

Some of the dive guides and boat crew were not as attentive as I would have expected, and some are more knowledgeable and energetic about pointing out critters. All in all I would say it was above average in terms of restaurant service, average in terms of food and friendliness, and average to below average in terms of dive organization and knowledge. The coral reef sites were good and the muck diving site was great but limited.

Websites Tawali   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Komodo, Lembeh, Bali, Solomon Islands, Anilao, Fiji, Hawaii, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Belize, Honduras, San Salvador, Turks & Caicos, St. Vincent, Dominica, Darin and the visayas
Closest Airport Gurney near Alotau Getting There DIA, BNE, JAX (Port Moseby). Air Nuigini canceled out PM flight to Alotau, so we had to overnight in Port Moseby

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas currents, no currents
Water Temp 80-84°F / 27-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-30 Ft/ 3-9 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions % Nitrox limits and asked for 60 min. dives, but we approached 90 min. on some shallow dives.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Good but limited macro. No soak tanks on small boats. One tank for camera and another for gear & masks on boat.
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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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