Deacon’s Reef – my first trip to Milne Bay was in 2003 on Rob van der Loos liveaboard the MV Chertan and about half-way through the trip we dropped anchor near the village of Lauadi, on the Solomon Sea side of the peninsular that forms the north coast of Milne Bay.
Rob proceeded to brief us on Dinah’s Beach and the critters we could expect to see there. At the end of the briefing, knowing my preference for coral reefs and bigger marine creatures, Rob turned to me and said “there’s a nice spot around the headland if you prefer to shoot wide-angle”.
So it was that when we all jumped into the water everybody but me turned right to explore Dinah’s Beach, while I went left in search of what I later learned was called Deacon’s Reef.
Simply stated, what I found was stunning – huge gorgonian fans and green tubastrea coral trees surrounded by what seemed like thousands of anthias, bright red sea whips and barrel sponges all in about 12m of water with a canopy of lush rainforest just above.
We stayed for two days at Lauadi and I spent most of my time round at Deacon’s Reef, only putting in token early morning & late afternoon forays to see the critters at Dinah’s.
I am sure everybody thought I was pretty weird spending so much time around the corner when there were so many critters to see at Dinah’s…
But I really did not care, it was just so special at the headland!
Deacon’s Reef is named after Kevin Deacon – the Australian underwater photographer and Sydney dive shop owner.
Kevin was on one of the first charters Bob & Dinah Halstead ran after launching their liveaboard MV Telita in 1987 and the then unnamed headland, just round from Lauadi was one of the sites visited…
Diving Deacon’s Reef
Diving Deacon’s Reef could not be easier, but just like nearby Dinah’s Beach, you will need a boat to get there!
Usually liveaboards will anchor just off the beach at Lauadi and you snorkel round to the headland, or if you are diving from one of the smaller Tawali Dive Resort boats, they will tie up to one of the large trees that provides the thick canopy over the site, so you will enter the water just down from the main site.
Maximum depth is around 18m, but most of the best things to see are around 12m depth and the site is very easy to swim around.
As you swim away from the headland you will reach the slope which drops off into the deep very rapidly and the blue water is where the “big dogs” are sometimes spotted, so keep your eyes open!