Papua New Guinea Oct 10-22 2006 - Trip Report
The most pristine reefs in the world!!!
It has been 6 yrs since I last chartered Febrina! It was great to be back!!! We had a lovely group of guests with us, our itinerary started in Kimbe Bay / Walindi to the Witu Islands with Dicky Doyle, Fathers Reef system and ending in Rabaul (with the volcano going off) l!!!!
It was great to have Dicky on board with us for a few days, full of great knowledge of PNG history and helping to find the scores of the World Series! The crew is the best I have seen on Febrina thus far! Josie the lead dive instructor/dive master has eyes of a hawk, 25 ft away she can spot the tiniest nudibranch or quarter size frog fish. Jonah and Alfie are there to show us all the nudi's, harlequin pipe fish, you name it! Great food prepared by Valia, she has been on Febrina for as along as I have been bringing groups on her, I was so happy to be home! Allan Raabe has done a superb job on finding and training the crew for Febrina and Star Dancer, and searching out new and exciting dive sites!
I have been diving and escorting groups all over the world for 15 years now. Visiting Indonesia, Milne Bay, Africa, Socorro, Great White sharks & Alaska since my last PNG (Bismark Sea) dive trip. This would mark the 6th time diving in Papua New Guinea. Coming back to PNG has proved to be the most diverse and pristine dive destination I have yet to experience. I love Indonesia with all its wild critters and diversity and culture. However with all reef bombing and shark fining that this country has been plagued with it makes you realize how healthy and outstanding Papua New Guinea is!!
There is no comparison. PNG wins in every category: diversity of marine life, health of the reefs, (NO bombing), a healthy shark population, we encountered Silver tips, Gray Reef and white tip sharks on about half of all our dives! Hard and soft corals, black coral forests, sea whips, gorgonians, giant sea fans, schools of baracudda's, jacks, surgeon fish. The reefs of PNG offer busy water, full of schools of many varieties of fish!
Starting in Kimbe Bay, Joy's Reef offered 2 harlequin ghost pipe fishes, I found the big one myself! Restorf Island amazing as always with the tiniest pygmy sea horse I have every barely seen! Mantis shrimps and the vast forests of Black coral.
Joelle's reef is adorned with big schools of baracudda, jacks, tuna, Spanish mackerel, turtles and every brand of anemone fish. A lovely reef with soft and hard corals.
Dicky's Place has those amazing Melanesian Percula Clown fish, these are endemic to this area, they have very thick black outlines of the white stripes on these beautiful clown fish. Also loads of mantis shrimps, ghost pipe fish, nudi's of all sorts. There are great muck dives in the crater here also on black sand; blue and black ribbon eels, inimicus (devil fish), mandarin fish, twin spot gobies, heaps of tiny pipe fish all over the bottom.
My all time favorite of all time and all places on earth is Loma Shoal aka (Krakafat) reef! This is the 5 star reef, a deep pinnacle with forests of black coral, massive schools of jacks, mating pointy nose unicorn fish, schools of fusiliers, chubs, snappers, the top of the reef is covered in bright orange anthias. Here is where you can be one with the fish!!! This dive site is heaven on earth! The second dive here had more current and we latterly had thousands of circling jacks and bat fish everywhere, just marvelous! ~~~~~~~~~~`
I have dived all over the world to the greatest WORLD CLASS DIVING DESITINATIONS, there is no place like this. We are in the Bismark Sea, Witu Islands which are north of Kimbe bay, this is by far some of the greatest diving and this reef is the best of the best. Now I know for sure why Al calls it Krakafat, it is beyond belief. The reef top sits in 36' of water. The size of a basketball court, slopes down to about 300ft. This is why I have done my 185 ft deep dive, only here. Ever.
The place has more fish per square meter than any place on earth we have all dived, there and many outstanding places here in PNG for sure all are world class, However nothing can compare quite to this. Forsests of black coral, and fans and soft and hard coral. It is the amount of fish that is extraordinary. Schools of thousands of jacks, in formation and making circles around me in the head of the current. Baracudda on the giant size called Chevron, I thought they were a brigade of sharks coming out of the murk.
Unicorn fish mating, surgeon fisn, sweet lips, anthias of every shade of orange and purple. Being one with the fish here happens where ever you are, it is a narcotic hypnotizing place with the current running. All the fish come together in a cacophony of fellowship, each finding their own spare inch to call home. I did not want to leave, there is a surreal feeling to be in the middle of a school of thousands of jacks circling and making figure 8'. Life is good and we are all blessed to be here, to have the privilege to be a part of this under water dance of thousands of fish, on a still thriving healthy reef. Thank you God for this, for still showing us this beauty of fish in the sea, untouched by human consumption. ''''''''''''''''''''
Fathers Reef area is a more masculine looking type of reef system, lots of sharks in the area and excellent visibility. 'Zee Arch' is a beautiful site with soft coral encircling the inside of the arch. Stunning vis and a large school of bumphead parrot fish.
Leslies reef and Normans Knob are gorgeous reefs with big dog tooth tunas, dense hard coral gardens and kissing Bat fish! They are like puppy dogs following you as the pied piper, if you put your fingers out, they kiss you!! I called them the 'kissing bat fish'. Loads of sharks in these areas, such a fabulous exciting site to behold in today's world of the deadly shark fining that is decimating our ocean waters all over the world.
Killibob Knob is the equivalent of Loma Shoal in the Fathers Reef system. 5 star all the way, gangs of barracudas, jacks, silver tip, gray reef and white tip sharks, thousands of anthias, that if you settle into them, they just go about their busy life of mating and darting about. This is a very very fishy place! This is also near the place where we can snorkel with dolphins as they swim with the bow of Febrina,,,, we are all lined up in the water and see them and try to photograph them as the boat goes by! Lots of fun and squealing with the dolphins.
We steam all night until we reach Rabaul, none of our group has been up here before, so we were all excited to see the volcano that nearly robbed us of our flight to Hoskins! Two very suspicious volcano's going off all day long, that is by far the most unbelievable site to behold.
Allan Raabe has found some fantastic dive sights here now with some special items such as a red anemone with spine cheek clown fish, percula clown fish and bonnet head clown fish all on the same small bommie. Hairy squat lobsters on barrel sponge, scorpion leaf fish, marvelous scorpion fish, lettuce coral and of course all the splendor of the soft and hard corals!
To end our trip in Rabaul we dived Al's Place and Sandra's Jetty. Sandy bottom with rubble filled with octopus, lion fish, sting rays anemone fishes, harlequin ghost pipe fish (a giant one!). Skunk head clown fish, with 2 immense barber shop shrimps, unusual nudibranchs. Near the jetty they found us, panda clown fish, razor fish trying to hide, a baby cuttle fish, and very cute green box fish with horns, and finally Alphie found me NORMAL sea horse!!! It has been years since I have seen one and I love it! Frog fish on the jetty poles, pipe fish, juvenile bat fish & emperor angel fish. Our last dive some people saw the incredible Mimic Octopus!
We were so happy and content with the richness of these waters and the diversity of these immaculate untouched reefs! Imagine that still exists.................
Papua New Guinea, has so much to offer, many different dive areas with different underwater scenes and wildlife. I will be back, again and again.