It was 40nm from Alotau to the Tawali resort situated on the Solomon Sea side of the northern peninsula of Milne Bay. An excellent area for diving with unique marine life quite unlike we had encountered elsewhere. But despite its beauty, almost no yachts get to enjoy this area due to the unchartered waters, lack of information & the threat of lawlessness. Thanks to the hospitality offered by the resort, that may soon change.
|We had contacted the resort manager ( Armando Agusto +675 7364 0607) before leaving Australia. Only two other cruising vessels had visited them in the last two years, and he was keen to attract more. We were welcome to anchor nearby or tie to one of the jetties when their Live-on-Board boat was away.|
We returned the favor by taking a dive trip over to several Norman Island reefs on their day boat ( prices similar to Australia) and dining nightly in their restaurant ($A35 for a four-course dinner).
|Apart from the excellent food we enjoyed meeting other divers and resort guests from around the world.|
|This is where the term “Muck Diving” originated, and we were keen to find out what it was all about. To that end, we recruited Albert the Tawali dive master on his day off and took Flash Dancer 6nm to near the village of Lawadi.|
|We dropped anchor in 25 m, backed to the shoreline and tied to a tree. Our keels were almost touching a black pebbled bottom, which to us of the “white sand Coral loving variety “ looked anything but inviting.|
|In just one meter it was apparent that muck diving was quite an extraordinary pastime. Amongst the rubble, rocks and tiny patches of coral were the most amazing critters we had ever seen and our eagle-eyed guide new how to find them all.|
|We thrilled to a huge variety of shrimps, spiders, nudibranchs, worms, crabs, eels, octopus, moths, rays, anemone, and many rare fishes that we had only seen in picture books.|
|Our dive started in just 1m of water and stretched only briefly to 10m.|
|Our 12L tanks kept smiling for 2/12 hours!|
With the ocean glassy most of the time, we decided to leave Flash Dancer resting on the jetty and explore from our dinghy.
There were excellent snorkeling and diving right next to the resort. Our favorite close by location was five minutes away at Sponge Heaven: a drop off with large crevices and as the name implies a beautiful array of sponges. For the macro enthusiasts where ever we dived, there was always an impressive variety of nudibranchs, and the visibility is excellent.
|Further on, almost too Lawadi was spectacular Deacon’s Reef coral garden. It took us twenty minutes with our RIB being pushed along by its 15hp motor. My favorite memory was laying on my back suspended in Crystal clear water looking up at the bottom of our dinghy and the surrounded greenery of overhanging branches.|
|The hard corals were not only healthy and exotic but grew right to the shoreline.And just a few fin flutters from the garden we peered down into the darkest of blue in hopes of something huge coming up to meet us. Nothing did, but anything is possible where 1000m+ mountains fall into a 1000m- yawning sea full of superb marine diversity.|
|Laying next to hard coral looking up at our dinghy and the tree it was tied to. How cool did that feel 🙂|
We would have liked staying a couple of months, but we wanted to get back to Australia by mid-December and needed time to explore off the East Cape of Milne Bay. Next story.
Looking around the Tawali Resort.
It would not be too hard to escape the boat for a night. Fantastic rooms and facilities.
|Gilbert is in charge of the security team and doubles up as a tour guide. He often stopped by for a chat. Here he is showing off his favorite non-denominational Christian book AWAKEN THE SPIRIT. Christianity is quite strong in PNG.|