Diving Kavieng – mention the name of this small town among any group of experienced scuba divers and you will quickly discern three key themes – big currents, schooling pelagics and clear blue water.
A quick look at the map, combined with a very basic awareness of oceanography, will tell you why…
New Ireland is located along the eastern rim of the Bismarck Archipelago and its long thin, rifle-like, shape forms a natural barrier between the rich deep waters of the Pacific Ocean to the north and east, and those of the Bismarck Sea to the west.
It is also very much an integral part of the Coral Triangle, the most biodiverse marine area in the world, characterized by more than 600 species of coral and 3000 species of reef fish.
Because of this location, the island’s coastline is exposed to a complex mix of oceanic, equatorial and regional currents and Kavieng sits on the very nexus of these powerful water flows as they pass back and forth through the channels between New Ireland and nearby New Hanover.
Those currents and the sheer biodiversity of the Coral Triangle combine to make Kavieng one of the must-dive areas in Papua New Guinea with a great combination of wrecks, reefs, coral gardens, big fish and muck diving.
The diving around Kavieng can be separated into two main areas – those sites on the Pacific Ocean side of New Ireland around Kavieng itself, and those to the south on the Bismarck Sea side of the island.
However, just to keep life interesting… when one side is at its best the other is probably not, because as the strong currents flow between New Ireland and New Hanover in those main channels they flush out the detritus from around the islands and in the mangroves.
So the clear waters from one side are significantly less so when they emerge on the other side!
Add to this complexity the fact that there are up to six tides per day it is easy to understand the need for good local knowledge of the actual dives sites and, most importantly, when to dive them safely at their best.