North New Britain
Kimbe Bay – There are many outstanding dive sites in Kimbe Bay. To be exact, there are more than 190 reefs. All dives in this part of the world are exceptionally good. Kimbe Bay highlights include scalloped hammerhead shark, grey reef shark, white-tip reef shark, barracuda, and dolphin encounters.
Moreover, Kimbe is celebrated for its colorful soft corals, fans and other wide-angle scenery. Other signature dive sites include a fully intact Japanese Zero fighter plane, and picturesque Restorf Island, where the scenery is equally good above and below the surface. A resident giant barracuda and some black tip reef sharks populate healthy reefs that have good split shot, wide angle, and macro opportunities.
Garove Island – This island, about 60km northwest of Kimbe Bay, was a large volcano in the past. The crater is now flooded with water (approx. 300 meters deep) and makes for some great diving around the island that was created within the volcano’s caldera. The land- and seascape are absolutely stunning! You are in for big fish like barracudas, trevally, large dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerel and sharks. It is famous for schooling fish and loads of soft corals as well as unusual critters. While less reliable than the reef dwellers, various marine mammals also make a regular appearance here, including pilot whales and several species of dolphin. To top it off, orcas and sperm whales occasionally make an appearance. Be always on the lookout for octopus, ribbon eels, mantis shrimp, and many a species of anemone fish.
Krakafat – Similar to other sites in the area there are schools of batfish, barracuda, and jacks. However, the quantity and density of the fish at Krakafat are unparalleled. Opportunities abound to get photos of soft corals with schooling fish in the background and photos of laid-back batfish. Keep your eyes out for reef cruising sharks and tunas.
Wire Bay – This is a great macro site where you might find seahorses, ghost pipefish, shrimp, “nemo” fish, and an assortment of other critters.
South New Britain
Waterfall Bay – Coral bommies and white sand slopes with a great assortment of nudibranchs and flatworms, soft coral cowries, squat lobsters, pipefish, upside-down jellyfish, as well as a myriad of small crabs and shrimp plus a couple of octopus and cuttlefish.
Jacquinot Bay – Very little is known about diving here, which is the best and most exciting part of this itinerary for the adventurous diver. Let’s explore!
Linden Harbor/Lindenhafen – Mainly muck diving on a silty sand slope, where you can see ornate ghost pipefish everywhere. This area is great for critters such as snake eels, dragonets, pipe fish, frogfish, orangutan crabs, blue boxer shrimp, quill worms, plus lots of unusual nudibranchs. In addition to muck diving, there are a couple of gorgeous walls where eagle rays, sharks, bumphead parrotfish and barracuda can be spotted.
We will do some exploratory diving to seaplane wrecks as Linden Harbour housed a Japanese air naval base. There are a couple of wrecks: a Jake floatplane, parts of an Oscar plane, a Pete biplane and another blown apart. The Jake is a beautiful and easy dive in just 18m of water.
Tavalo – Another remote and undiscovered diving area. Most likely, you will find hard coral walls and slopes. Chance of spotting big wahoos, turtles, cuttlefish, longnose hawk fish, squat lobsters, jaw fish, batfish, flying gurnards, eels, porcelain crabs, clownfish, nudibranchs, and ghost pipefish.
Departing from Kavieng on New Ireland, this itinerary covers the best diving in this region that will certainly blow you away.
Chapman’s Reef on Ao Island – This reef is an incredible drop-off with huge schools of barracudas, tunas, grey reef sharks and Queensland groupers. There can be strong currents, which is when the action happens, but visibility is usually very good.
Three Island Harbour – Kavieng used to be a major Japanese naval base during WWII. After the US bombed this base in 1944, a convoy of Japanese vessels coming to the rescue was also attacked. They managed to destroy 3 ships at Three Island Harbour: Sanku Maru, a Type C midget submarine, and Subchaser # 39. Sanku Maru is resting on her starboard side in 22 metres of water, less than 50 apart from the midget submarine. The Subchaser lies nearby, between 2-14 metres depth. All wrecks are fully overgrown with corals and house plenty of marine life.
Furthermore, we plan to dive around the islands of Tsalui, Tsoilaunung and Selapiu, which are so infrequently visited that there is an interesting exploratory side to the diving here.
Kavieng – This area has a huge variety of marine life. There are fantastic pristine coral gardens, sponges, many different species of nudibranchs and tropical fish. This is a great place for “macro” diving and to see big pelagic species at some of the PNG signature dive sites. When the currents are strong, eagle rays, mobula rays, big dogtooth tunas, barracudas, plenty of grey reef sharks and loads of other fish can be seen here. Divers should be more experienced in general and like to dive in currents in order to do and enjoy those exciting dives. There are also some great World War II wrecks in the harbour, such as the wreck of an Aichi E13 “Jake” floatplane. The Japanese used this seaplane for reconnaissance purposes.
Albatross Channel – Minutes away from Kavieng, on the West Coast, there is a narrow passage between two islands. A ridge runs across the mouth of the passage at 9m (30 ft). Diving from the top of the ridge down to a sandy plateau at 27-43m (80-130 ft) where numerous pelagic fish congregate in the channel and a large number of grey reef sharks cruise along the mouth. Mantas and mobula rays are frequent visitors. On top of this is a magnificent wall of soft coral. Average visibility is around 30-35 metres (100 ft). Look in the soft corals for leaf scorpionfish and pygmy seahorses.