Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea
What to see: EVERYTHING! The most pristine coral reefs, crazy and rare critters as well as mantas. sharks and other pelagics.
Diving: Boat entry, currents can be strong, reef and muck diving is possible.
Level: From entry-level to experienced diver, there are sites that suit every level. However, I would recommend to more experienced divers to go there. New divers might either not enjoy the whole beauty, miss out on the critters or just get spoiled
Who should go there: Divers who are looking for special critters and/or pristine coral reefs. It is also a perfect place for underwater photographers, no matter if macro or wide-angle.
How to get there: Direct flights to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea are available from Australia, Singapore, Manila and Bali. From there a short domestic flight to Alotao. Flights are fairly expensive (starting at USD 800 for a round trip). It makes sense to book the long distant and domestic flights with the same airline (Air Niguini) for a higher baggage allowance and to avoid a stay in Port Moresby. From the airport the resort or liveaboard will organize a transfer.
Where to stay and dive: Either at a resort in Tawali or on a liveaboard. The options are the liveaboard of the Tawali resort (MV Spirit of Niguini) or MV Chertan. Yes, these are the only ones that are in Milne Bay all year round. Nothing else there, it’s amazing! Some other liveabords have Milne Bay itineraries; for example FeBrina and MV Golden Dawn.
Rates: Papua New Guinea is not an economic destination to visit. A lot is imported from Australia which obviously increases the prices. The costs will be around USD 300 to 400 per day for accommodation, full board and three to four dives per day.
Climate: Temperatures are ranging between 25°C and 30°C, rain all year round with most rainy days from January till April
Water temperature: Down to 25°C in summer, up to 29°C in winter (we had 27°C in December)
Visibility: 10 to 30 m, mostly amazing visibility around the reefs
Season: It is possible to dive all year round. Waves, winds and currents might make it impossible to dive certain areas though
Favorite dive sites:
Gonubalabala/Guna Bara Bara (not sure which one is correct): This place is also called Manta Station and a conservation project has been started there. I loved it because the incredible muck diving. We found all kinds of different critters, from nudibranchs I have not seen before over a cryptic frogfish to many shrimp, pipehorses and much more.
Rogia: This is another incredible muck diving area, we found other rare and special critters all around. I can’t even tell how many new species I have encountered there, including a purple hairy ghost pipefish
Cobb’s Cliff: This is an incredible pristine, colorful, diverse reef dive site teeming with fish. I also encountered hammerheads and grey reef sharks on both dives I did at this site.
I could keep on listing. Honestly, every single dive I did in Milne Bay was incredible and I did do 46 dives there.
I flew from Manila to Port Moresby and straight forward to Alotao. I stayed a few days at Tawali resort first and then boarded the MV Chertan for a special muck diving trip.
Tawali is a beautiful and luxurious resort, I can fully recommend this place. The guides were great and everything in the resort was just perfect. The diving will be mostly on the reefs and if a group gets together who would prefer muck diving, this is possible too.
If you love muck diving, however, I can highly recommend the special trip on the MV Chertan as the spotters on the boat are amazing and will find all the critters. The staff on the boat is wonderful too and I had such an amazing time. The boat is basic, but offers everything you need (only some more toilets/showers would be nice). The boat is small with a maximum of 10 divers, which I really loved. I prefer diving in small groups. Besides the special muck trips they also offer normal liveaboard trips where they do more reef dives.
Diving in The Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea is some of the most remote diving I have done so far and I can say it is also the best diving I have done.