Kavieng dive sites – there is much on offer underwater in Kavieng, starting with shipwrecks, WWII aircraft wrecks, walls, channels, reefs and schooling pelagics.
The aircraft wrecks are a legacy of the Japanese occupation during WWII, while all the other great things to see are basically a function of the channels between New Ireland and New Hanover and the flow of the rich deep waters from the Pacific Ocean to the north and east, and those of the Bismarck Sea to the west.
While it played second fiddle to Rabaul in nearby New Britain, Kavieng was a very important base for the invading Japanese forces during World War II and they seized control on the 21st of January in 1942 – just seven weeks after the surprise air attack on Pearl Harbour which brought America into WWII.
It also became an important target for the Allies in 1943 and 1944 as they turned the tide of the Pacific war.
On the Pacific Ocean side of Kavieng, in and around Kavieng harbor, there are a total six WWII aircraft wrecks ranging from the remnants of one of the illustrious RAAF PBY Catalina flying boats, to my personal favorite the “Deep Pete” – the wreck of a Japanese Mitsubishi F1M floatplane.
Then there is the wreck of the Der Yang, a Taiwanese long-line fishing boat that lays on its side in 30m of water in the clear blue waters to the north-west of Kavieng.
The Der Yang was scuttled in 1988 and makes for a really excellent dive and a great alternative to the aircraft wrecks.
Finally, if you have had your fill of wrecks, there is the Echuca Patch reef near the Der Yang and the very interesting Nusa Blowholes site with its caves, swim-throughs and healthy population of white-tip reef sharks.
On the Bismarck Sea side of Kavieng there are also numerous excellent sites, however all share the common characteristic that they are at their very best when dived on an incoming tide when the prevailing currents sweep in the clear blue waters from the Bismarck Sea.
But… in an area where there can be up to six tides per day, picking the right time to enter the water requires significant local knowledge.
Get the timing wrong and you will either end up with the out-going tide which carries with it the detritus from the islands and mangroves it has swept through – which means really bad visibility.
Or you will feel like somebody pressed the spin-cycle button on you, because at their peak, the in-coming tides reach warp speed!
Timed to perfection would have you in the water as the clean water from the Bismarck Sea has flushed away the detritus and there is enough current to stimulate the marine growth and schooling pelagics – but you can still swim against it and savor these superb sites.