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Dive Review of Tawali Resort in
Papua New Guinea/Milne Bay

Tawali Resort, Jun, 2007,

by Fred Turoff, PA, USA (Top Contributor Top Contributor 34 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 3435.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Tawali Resort is situated on a peninsula, about 60 feet above sea level. The resort is comfortable and welcoming, with native woods, architecture and artwork all around. The main salon sits in a large building that includes the reception area, dining room, kitchen and store. Meals were delicious, plentiful, varied in main courses, and accompanied by fresh local fruit attractively decorating the main serving table. Waitresses and cooks were responsive and attentive, as was management. We ate most meals with co-owner Rob van der Loos, who has been in this area his whole life and is full of stories and knowledge. All guest rooms are nearby, with wooden walkways connecting all areas.

The dive dock is at the bottom of a wooden walkway on one side of the peninsula while the dive shop is on the other side, down another walkway, next to a local village. Once you do your first dive, all gear is kept at the dive shop between boat trips, washed and dried when it can be. However, camera gear is kept in your room, and is carried down and up by you, unless you ask a dive guide to help.

Underwater life was varied and plentiful. We did most dives at nearby reefs, and most were relatively shallow, which allowed us lots of time to see the critters and fish indigenous to Milne Bay. Dives often lasted over 80 minutes, with a top length of 122 minutes. The dive boats used for these trips were small, fitting 4-6 comfortably, although during my visit the biggest group we had was five divers and one snorkeler. Both boats had sun-cover, so we could avoid lots of sun if so desired. A central table unit held cameras, snack, towels and drinks. A rinse tank for cameras was lacking on these small boats, but since these dives were relatively local, we dunked cameras when we returned in the tank by the dive dock. We had a trip one day to outer reefs on the Chertan, the liveaboard that Rob operated in previous times. This gave us three dives away from the resort area where we found a lacey scorpionfish and epaulette sharks on two of them, which gave us photographers excellent subjects.

Our dive guides were able to give us personal attention, as the dive groups were small. They did their best to find us all manner of UW life to see and photograph. As I was there in the low season, and the group of guests who were there when I was arrived and left on different schedules, occasionally our dive group dropped to two and once, only me. Spending a 90+ minute dive with my own guide gave me plenty of photo-ops. My trip occurred at the start of the rainy season, and days two-five proved this. We had nearly constant rain for these four days and nights, so gear stayed wet. The rain provided one unusual outing on the fourth rainy day, as we began a dive under overcast, drizzly skies. Perhaps an hour into the dive, we noticed a brown river overhead that turned into a brown cloud. It was the runoff from four days of rain emptying into the bay. This spread over the entire surface, making day into twilight. It must have confused the critters, as a peacock mantis shrimp, normally skittish and staying near its burrow during the day, stood on a flat area and allowed us photographers close access with several minutes of image-making. Upon ending our dive, we pierced perhaps 3 feet of cooler, fresh but muddy water with a half-inch visibility to reach the surface. I couldn’t see my outstretched arm until my faceplate emerged from the muddy layer.

The variety of nudibranchs and flatworms I saw equaled or beat my trip two years ago to Kungkungen Bay. Our guides found pygmy seahorses (H. Denise) on several dives, but of course when I set up my camera for extreme close-up (105mm and a +4 diopter), we found none. Ghost pipefish of several varieties were regularly found, with a large variety of reef fish as well. Cuttlefish appeared on many dives, and on the dive where we found a blue-ring octopus, we also observed two large day octopi involved in mating ritual that covered several coral heads. Three different species of mantis shrimp were seen, including one female peacock mantis with eggs. Numerous other shrimp and crab species were found in anemones, crevices and on the sand or mud. Another mating ritual was observed when we found a female and two male Pegasus sea moths. Frogfish occurred on only a few dives, and large fish were seldom seen on the local dives. I found a 1.5cm adult Moyer’s dragonet looking like a white kite with red highlights. A pod of spinner dolphins visited the bay next to the resort and entertained us twice, plus when returning from the day trip to outer reefs on the Chertan, a pod of them played in our bow wave for over five minutes. Once, on the way to a nearby dive site, we passed a Minke whale going the other way. From the outdoor lounge area at the resort, those watching the sea saw a leaping Minke whale and a leaping manta.

Getting to Tawali involves a trip through Port Moresby, PNG. During my 6-hour layover there between flights, I went to the Airways Hotel for a meal to pass time. During this time I took a taxi to PNG Arts, a showroom of native artwork, and had the driver wait for me to take me back to the hotel, where I had checked my carry-on luggage. During the trip I noticed almost all buildings had surrounding walls topped with razor wire, indicating quite a problem with what the taxi driver described as “rascals,” which we would describe a thieves and thugs. I was warned not to venture in public with valuables, including a camera on my shoulder. Anyone traveling through Port Moresby will have to keep that in mind.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving PNG: Kimbe Bay; Indonesia: Kpmodo, Kungkungen Bay, Raja Ampat; Malaysia: Sipadan; Belau & Yap; Fiji; East Pacific: Sea of Cortez, Revillagigedos, Coco; Red Sea; many Caribbean sites
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 79-82°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 15-80 Ft/ 5-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Our deepest dive was to 87 feet, but most were much shallower with long dive times the norm. No problem - plenty to see.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Cameras were kept in rooms, so they had to be carried down to the boat and back up. The rinse tank by the dock was adequate but not always filled for us, however filling it was easy. Dive guides treated cameras well and were eager to show UW life. Silt on bottom and in water after rain and runoff interfered with photography some.
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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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