Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay – Dinah’s Beach

The Black Sand Beach at Lauadi Village

On the Solomon Sea side of the peninsular that forms the north coast of Milne Bay is a small village called Lauadi.

It’s a pretty place, with lush vegetation and a black sand beach, but very little else to distinguish it from many other similar villages in Milne Bay Province.

But what makes Lauadi so special is not what’s on the land…

It’s what is under the water just off the beach in front of the village, and at the nearby headland, that brings divers from far & wide.

For Lauadi is host to two of the best dive sites in Milne Bay – Dinah’s Beach & Deacon’s Reef.

Both are “must dive” sites on any trip to Milne Bay..

 

Lauadi Dive Site Map – Courtesy of Bob Halstead

Lauadi Dive Site Map – Courtesy of Bob Halstead

The contrast between the two sites is really quite remarkable because Dinah’s is very much a muck & critter dive, whereas nearby Deacon’s offers superb coral gardens that are simply quite spectacular! Its quite amazing that two such excellent, but completely different sites, should be located so close to each other but I guess it just reinforces the amazing diversity of Milne Bay Province!

Bob Halstead, the well-known pioneer of Milne Bay diving is credited with discovering the two sites and, in his own inimitable way, making them so well known.

Yellow frogfish at Dinah’s Beach

Dinah’s Beach, which is named after Bob’s wife whose family actually own Lauadi, was where he coined the phrase “muck diving”.

Bob was attempting to persuade the guests on MV Telita that, rather than diving the pristine reefs they had traveled so far to see, they should embrace diving where there is no beautiful scenery….

The legendary dive travel pioneer Carl Roesler had chartered Telita for that cruise and had brought along the usual party of well-heeled Americans & “Carl Wannabees”.

According to Bob, Roesler and all the guests simply assumed that he was trying to save on fuel, but eventually agreed to try the site for a few minutes on the very clear promise that the boat would move elsewhere if they did not like it!

So it was that muck diving was born, because the guests did not come back apart from when they needed more air & film….

However it took a while for the term muck diving to gain acceptance, because it does create somewhat of an image problem with the uninitiated, something that Carl Roesler tried to correct by suggesting a name change to “Exotic Animal Diving”…

Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay – Diving Dinah’s Beach

Moray Cleaning Station at Dinah’s Beach

Diving Dinah’s could not be easier, but you will need a boat to get there! If you are diving from one of the smaller boats from Tawali, you will tie off one of the trees near Lauadi village and put your kit on in the shallow water.

Alternatively larger boats & liveaboards drop anchor in the deeper water and tie their sterns to one of the trees near the village, so entry is a giant stride off the back.

The beach slopes off at an angle of about 30 degrees into the depths, but it’s rare to go any deeper than about 12-15m because all the critters are usually found in less than 10m.

With so much to see and such shallow water you can spend hours in the water and dives of 90 minutes or so are quite normal. There is always something different to see and visiting the same spot at different times of the day often produces a nice surprise!

Diving Papua New Guinea: Underwater Photography at Dinah’s Beach

Coleman Shrimps at Dinah’s Beach

My first dive at Dinah’s was back in 2003 onboard Rob Van Der Loos’ boat the MV Chertan, and it was also my introduction to critters generally.

I have to admit that I was much less able at “critter spotting” back then, and I vividly remember that dive, because I spent what seemed like several minutes looking at the painted frogfish my animated dive guide was pointing at.

While I was wondering what was so exciting about a piece of brown sponge, he was wondering why I was not using that fancy camera!

We did several dives at Dinah’s on that trip and, once I got attuned to the environment, my ability to see the critters rapidly improved.

I have since been able to dive numerous other muck & critter sites in both PNG and Indonesia and have really come to like the whole deal.

Like many critter sites, you never know what you will see at Dinah’s, but as Dinah herself once said to a friend of mine when he asked her how she managed to find so many critter – “well you just have to look!”.

Actually that is the key to Dinah’s, because it’s really easy to miss stuff and write the place off.

As always, a good guide can really make the difference as they always seem to be able to find much more than you woul imagine!

Diving Papua New Guinea: Dinah’s Beach Image Gallery

 

Dinah’s Beach Image Gallery

Next Page: Lauadi – Deacon’s Reef

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