2017 Trip Report – Kavieng – Papua New Guinea – September

Kavieng, New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea – 21st to 29th August 2017   

Kavieng is situated at the northern tip of New Ireland, a long narrow island, 90 minutes flight from Port Moresby. It has often been described as a “typical Somerset Maughan south sea island port”. The New Irelanders are a friendly people who have maintained their traditional lifestyle. Their main traditional culture is related to the Malagan concept, which embodies the relationships central to the social organisation and kinship ties linking social groups in the villages. The Malagan themes are reflected in their stylistically distinctive carvings and art traditions.

During WWII, Kavieng was at the front line of the Japanese’ southward advance and many of New Ireland’s towns, infrastructure and industry was destroyed. The area is littered with silent reminders of those days gone by both above and under the water. Kavieng and the surrounding area offers a range of accommodation, beautiful beaches and excellent reef and wreck diving. A road links north to south and is made from crushed coral. Travel is easier by boat and the interesting Malangan culture in the northern and central part of the island is unique within the Pacific. Sorcery, shark calling, surfing, snorkelling, diving and gourmet seafood including coconut crabs, crayfish, reef-fish and unpolluted shellfish make New Ireland and its outer islands an escapists dream.

A most amazing week in paradise – August 2017

Day 1

This trip was planned as an easy week of clean water diving, living on an island ‘away from it all’ and thats exactly what it was!

This is Nusa Island Retreat – off the ‘mainland’  Nusalik island sits a few kilometres offshore, but miles away from everything. A light breeze is almost constant, keeping the temperature a lot lower than Kavieng township itself – where ‘steamy’ is the word of the moment. 30degree days are the norm, but with the breeze, the humidity is down and it really is very pleasant.(although it can be a little humid in the mornings while it is so quiet and still – lucky we were always heading off for a dive!)

At Nusa Island Resort, the bungalows are built off the ground for coolness, great views, and lets face it – they look epic too! Construction is quite traditional and you can really appreciate the craftsmanship.  Every building has local carvings on show, from Malagan Masks to intricate carvings of Birds of paradise and snakes.

Welcomed warmly after a day of travel and a short delay in Port Moresby, dinner in the evenings was either order specially or join the buffet – and Wow – huge amounts of food and choice on offer. Seafood anyone? Here in abundance and obviously caught locally. We usually saw dinner arrive soon before it was on the plate!

SP is the local brew and appreciated by many. A little strong for me through! (I’ll stick to the cider 😉 )   

Day 2

After a little sleep-in, we buckled up for an 8:30am start to our dive days with Dorian, Robert, Sedo, and George of Scuba Ventures. So much to see! Our double dives were separated by fresh fruit, coconut, jokes and laughter, and some general mucking about.

Dive 1 – Namnamin – ‘The Magic Shark’

Our ‘shakedown; dive went well although a few divers sat out with a bit of flu hanging around. Large overhangs shadowing lots of critters hanging about on both the walls, crags and large rocks one the bottom. Flashing File Shells!

Dive 2 – Blowholes

Amoazing spot where chunks of limestone hav fallen down the short cliff over the years to creates big rocks and nooks and crannies for all types of critters to hang out in. White Tip Reef sharks all over the place, and a very cool cave  with sandy floor, full of crayfish and cardinal fish to explore!

   Dive 3 – Long Long Drift

Very relaxing afternoon diving with Robert as we drifted along these lovely walls – in The summer this becomes an epic surf break, but for now we had it all to oursleves – pretty much like all the other dives we had here!!

      

Day 3

Dive 4 – Echuca Shallows

Amazing location! Crystal Clear water – pinnacle rising up from the depth absolutely coated in coral growth feeding off the currents that flow through. We swam against the moderate current to the point and  snuggled in to watch Grey Reef Whalers, Chevron Barracuda and a very curious Eagle Ray come in to eyeball us all. Back in the shallows, there is an amazing 6 species of anemones and fish (all different within 5 square metres. Epic!!

Dive 5 – Lighthouse Jake

Shallow wreck in 19m with lots of celar water and easy features to spot and understand. This Japanese Bomber is now coated with life, from spine-cheek anemone-fishes on the wings, sea-whips and soft coral under the wings, and soldierfish on the propellor.

Dive 6 – Reef Jake

This aircraft snagged up on a shallow reef, and leaving its floating pontoons up in 3m of water, amongst some really stunning reef, has come to rest in 12m – a great residual dive – loads of creatures – inclusing some very friendly cleaner shrimp wanting to inspect my hands!

Dive 7 – Scuba Ventures House Reef

  Saddle up! – Glenn, Bill & I headed over to Scuba Ventures Wharf for the house reef – what a great much dive location! We saw so much!!! Hows that for a free dive!!

This site is fantastic for a slow mooch along, spotting little creatures and sharing your discoveries with your buddies. We saw everything from grumpy anemonefish to shrimpgobies, nudibranchs and seastar shrimp.

Day 4 – Thursday (Tried to keep a bit of a secret – my Birthday!

Dive 8 – Nusarm Reef

Stunning location! Gin-clear water, descending to a rocky outcrop that doesnt look that spectacular from a distance – but when you arrive, a massive undulating school of yellow (3 different species at least were spotted in this school!) surrounds you! Anemonefish, trumpetfish & Puffers are all hanging out here – Schools of trevally & pilchards in the distance, & as you ascend along the reef wall , there is the biggest field of garden eels I have ever seen – All out and feeding! Fantastic!!!

Dive 9 – Rel Island

Stunning shallow dive – so relaxing as we swam out and back between 14 and 3m amongst stunning healthy coral, anemonefish, shrimps, crabs, masses of rabbitfish & butterfly fish.

Dive 10- Scuba Ventures House Reef

And back here again for another inspection. Todays awesome was this snake eel who got so close to the wide angle lens I think he left a smudge! Very curious and stunning little guy! Razorfish, Clownfish, sea-urchins, pipefish  – ah… too many to list.

Day 5 – Friday – Vanessa’s Birthday!

Dive 11 – Kabien Too

We headed south to the Bismark Sea today! Massive drop offs, gorgonaia fans, sharks everywhere, giant trevallies, Just amazing!

Dive 12 – Albatross Passage

More of the same, although we made use of the slight current and ‘hooked in’ with a reef hook to conserve air and just ‘hang  about’ watching the sharks and bigger pelagics do their thing – Awesome stuff!

Dive 13 – Blowholes

Another lovely relaxing afternoon dive with robert, finding old artillergy shells underwater, including one massive thing over a metre long! Bumpheaded Parrotfish & Cuttlefish!

  

Day 6

 Dive 14 – Albatross Bommie

Back to the Bismark sea for more clear water and big fish action! The Batfish were (as they can be) incredibly friendly, and the school introduced themselves to our divers! Lionfish, big schools of Twinspot Snapper, and again gorgonians everywhere.

Dive 15 – Albatross Passage

Further down from the bommie – caves and overhangs, a MASSIVE school of Trevally that I chased to get some footage – another school of SOMETHING in the distance behind them, Surgeonfish, Barracuda, and the saddest sight –  a Grey Reef shark that very recently has been hooked – with about 1m of shiny stainless steel hook and trace from its mouth, then training about 7m of fishing line. I do hope you survive that buddy.

Dive 16 – B-25 Plane

ANother dive with the last dregs of our tanks – this B25 Dorian found in the shallows after 3 days of searching – The visibility is low due to the proximity to the mangroves, but it makes a lovely shallow exploration an the end of a great day!

Day 7

(Last Day Diving – BooHoo!!)

17 – Echuca Shallows/Der Yang Shipwreck

Today the group split – with a few cranky eardrums, one group happily stayed up in the shallows exploring the coral pinnacle and ridge, and the others worked the current down to 33m to discover the wreck of the Der Yang fishing vessel. Lovely spot, with eagle rays and lots of interesting creatures lurking in the engine room!  

18 – Rel Island (Because it was so beautiful we wanted to go again)

Nothing more to be said – stunning, and easy dive. Picture postcard stuff.

19 – Namnamin

Our afternoon last dive as our last chance to get wet – Namnamin again where we found Mantis Shrimp, Nudibranchs, those flashing file shells and Robert found us a Leaf-Fish – Yahoo!! what a way to end our trip – stunning stuff!

 All-in-all up to 19 dives by some of the crew!

“Wettest diver” awards go to Bill and Glenn for diving every single opportunity presented!!

Our last day at Nusa Island Retreat saw us heading over to Nusa Island itself to hike up to the Blowholes (where we had dived previously) visiting 2 Japanese WWII artillery guns and a bunker along the way. A gentle hike, a little mobile underfoot, with lovely dense pandanus and coconut palms surrounding us. 2 of the guns are still in place, with the only bunker left standing quietly behind the empty depression where the third gun used to be. Walking further north brings us to The Blowholes – a big sandstone outcrop overhang (hence upon high tide air being forced out by waves, creating the blowholes) – very pitted and eroded by weather (i.e. SHARP!) we picked our way very carefully, taking care not to slice hands and shins – or tread on sea-urchins, brittlestars or anemones in the shallows!

Well worth the scramble for the view from the point though!

 Heading back to the resort (and swimming across the channel) we headed to the other side of Nusalik Island to the crafting village and the crew opted for some handmade memoirs! Great to see the locals making items from the local items, rather than those bought in from elsewhere. Not too much from turtleshell too! Yay! Lunch, and then for most of us, a lie down and siesta in the afternoon before heading out with Dorian, Cara & Vicki from Scuba Ventures to watch the sunset over the ocean on our final day in PNG. After this we shared the buffet dinner and watched the movie Dorian made for each of us on this trip – a lovely gesture and well appreciated by all.

Our last evening together and an early start had us off to bed after farewells to the lovely staff for looking after us so well during our week.

Final cuddles and scratches to the animal staff too – Cocky, Scooter & Bocker

Thanks again to all who came along, and all the Nusa Island Retreat & Scuba Ventures Crew who made it such a great trip.

Karen & Chris

Glenn

Bill

Steve & Vanessa,

Don

& Mike

 To all the crew who made our week awesome:

Dorian, Cara & Vicki (Scuba Ventures)

Robert, Seto & George (Scuba Ventures)

Eddie, Maggie, Dockers, Dave, Adolph, Shannon & Sean (Nusa Island Retreat)

And all the other crew behind the scenes who work hard and we dont get a chance to meet:

‘Thankyu Tru’

(Thankyou Very Much)