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 & the critters we could expect to see there. On board were the acclaimed Australian underwater photographer Roger Steene and his mate Scott Michael from the USA, both of whom were really into critters.
At the end of the briefing, knowing my preference for coral reefs & 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 & 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 pretty 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 did not care, it was just so special at the headland!
Deacon’s Reef is named Kevin Deacon – the celebrated Australian underwater photographer & Sydney dive shop owner. Kevin was on one of the very first charters Bob & Dinah Halstead ran when they launched their liveaboard MV Telita in Milne Bay back in 1987 and one of the many sites they visited was the headland just round from Lauadi which at that point, like many other sites in Milne Bay, was unnamed.
Kevin, who even then had dived a lot of places around the world, was so impressed with the site he suggested to Bob that it was possibly the best reef he had ever seen – to which Bob suggested christening it Deacon’s Reef!
Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay -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!
Lauadi Dive Site Map – Courtesy of Bob Halstead
Usually liveaboards will anchor just off the beach at Lauadi and you snorkel round to the headland, or is 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!
Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay – Deacon’s Reef Image Gallery
Deacon’s Reef Image Gallery
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Download: Nuigini Blue Deacon’s Reef Article
Download: SportDiving Lauadi article