Papua New Guinea - "Sum of its Parts"
"Yes, I like taking pictures of fish sometimes" -Mike
Certain dive locales are renown for the specific encounters they offer. For example, Guadeloupe has its white sharks, Tonga it's humpback whales and Truk Lagoon has it's wrecks. The results of my recent jaunt to Kimbe Bay in Papua
New Guinea yielded some of the best reef diving I have experienced and due less to one singular feature but more the sum of its parts. Upon descending to the reefs, it doesn't take long to notice that PNG has the highest marine biodiversity in the world. The variety of fish and coral species is immense. The tiered layers of hard corals are majestic and surrounded by magnificent sea anemones, enormous barrel sponges and gorgonians. Within this multi-dimensional reef are a community of fascinating species with elegant names such as ghost pipe fish, devil scorpions, pygmy sea horse, star-gazers and, Nemo's cousins, the false clown and spine cheek anemone fish. The extent of the diving doesn't stop there. Unlike other destinations, that have been noticeably "fished-out", the reefs of Kimbe Bay have larger reef inhabitants and a plethora of pelagic fishes. Schools of trevaly patrol in circles, dog-tooth tuna and
Nestled in the shadow of an active volcano along the edge of a tropical rainforest is this splayed out waterfront resort called Walindi Plantation. The property is umbrellaed by old growth trees with a large assortment of flora and fauna surrounded by a sprawling palm oil plantation. The bungalows were quaint and comfortable with all the amenities a traveler would need. There was an absence of air conditioning but, the ceiling fan was more than adequate and I did not long for the chill of artificial climate control the entire two-weeks of my stay. The restaurant dished out some very tasty meals using local ingredients and the bar area with pool in the central part of the resort was a perfect place to unwind with a cold beer or a glass of wine after a wonderful day of diving.
Although Walindi has two liveaboards that operate out of the resort, I opted to go land based for my two week stay. As the captain of a liveaboard I needed to get my feet on terra firma for a spell. However, I plan to try out one of their two liveaboards in the future since they can access more remote dive areas easier than the land based dive boats. This will be for another time.
Besides the top-notch diving, the land tours were something special at Kimbe Bay as well. On my last day, prior to flying out, I signed up for the guided six-hour round trip trek to the crater of Mount Garbuna; an active volcano belching out steam and sulphuric gas. It was the hike up to the crater that was as equally exciting as the actual volcano itself. Our guides led us up a narrow and steep trail cut out of the forest with machetes. The old growth trees towered over us where abundant exotic birds dwelled and produced a cacophony of screeches. Although the shrieking was astonishing to listen to it was somewhat intimidating as well. The avians maneuvered stealthily around the forest canopy while seeming to communicate a strategy with one another to coordinate an attack and drive the foreign invaders from their realm. Then again, I have a steep imagination. We pushed on through and eventually came to a clearing that was reminiscent of scene from an apocalyptic movie genre. In 2006, Garbuna blew its top spewing out sand, steam and sulphuric rock while leveling the trees in the area. Fortunately, I was told no one was killed in this explosion. The scene was impressive and the smell pungent.
Lastly, let me not forget to mention the Japanese WWII Mitsubishi Zero plane wreck that is available to dive on. This aircraft was found less than two-decades ago and is in remarkable condition. The plane was successfully ditched close to shore and the pilot pushed back the canopy, climbed out and swam to shore where it was purported that he found his unit again with the help of locals. Nearly the entire aircraft is there with little damage. It is a must stop upon any visit to Kimbe Bay.
An affordable and direct four hour flight from Chuuk to PNG, Port Moresby is available once a week. From Port Moresby it is a 65 minute domestic flight to Kimbe Bay. This convenient connection makes PNG ideal for an add-on trip to Truk Lagoon. If you board a plane in PNG at 0700 on Saturday you arrive 10 hours later in Chuuk and embark the Odyssey immediately. One should travel to the other side of the world and maximize ones time. A Reefs to Wrecks dive excursion is in order.
I am nearly finished finalizing plans for a return to Kimbe Bay prior to my Truk Lagoon Rec•Tec Expedition starting Oct 24, 2020. If you are interested in joining me for one or both trips, contact me at your convenience. Stay tuned for details on a liveaboard trip to PNG coming in 2021. Dates to be announced.
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PNG Photo Album
A cyclone of barracuda
A view of Kimbe Bay
Scorpion Devil Fish - Look Closely
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