Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay Dive Sites – North Coast

Tawali Explorer

There are numerous dive sites on the north coast of Milne Bay and, apart from Tawali’s house reef which is a shore dive, the sites can be separated into three basic groups.

Those are the coastal sites which are accessible by smaller boats, the offshore sites that require the larger Tawali Explorer and the offshore sites that can only be accessed by the liveaboards that work the Milne Bay area.

Both the coastal & offshore sites offer some great diving, but to generalize the coastal sites tend to be more hard coral and critter dives, whereas the offshore sites are classic reef dives with sea mounts rising up out of deep water.

Either way, you cannot really go wrong…

Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay North Coast Dive Sites – Tawali House Reef

Tawali’s house reef stretches from inside the small bay on one side of the headland where the main resort is located, round around the headland itself and into the larger bay where the service jetty is.

Mandarin Fish on the House Reef

You could spend hours just grazing it as there is a lot to see, but if nothing else you must do one dusk dive right at the end of the jetty, because there is a very nice coral head that hosts numerous mandarin fish.

Mandarin fish are small, superbly colored & photogenic fish that live in coral heads & rubble and only emerge at dusk to mate.

The mating process is quite fascinating to watch, if rather difficult to photograph because of the fading light and the speed at which it occurs.

To make things worse, if you try to improve the lighting by turning your torch on, all bets are off and the mating is over for the day!

Presumably because one of the pair does not like sex with the lights on…

Once you have watched the process a few times it’s quite easy to tell when a pair of mandarins are about to mate.

Their body language changes significantly and they start to cuddle up before suddenly rising up into the water column and simultaneously releasing their eggs & sperm.

A long macro lens is needed to capture the two fish together, but finding & focusing on them in the low light is not easy and that coral head almost became a home from home by the time I captured an image that I was happy with!

Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay North Coast Dive Sites – Dinah’s Beach at Lauadi

Yellow Frogfish at Dinah’s Beach

Dinah’s Beach is a quite famous muck diving/critter site located right in front of the village of Lauadi, further west along the coast from Tawali.

I did several dives there and was so impressed with the diversity that I have written a dedicated page on the site.

But let me wet your appetite with a brief description…

The site is in a sheltered bay and consists of a black volcanic sand beach, which slopes off at an angle of about 30 degrees into the depths.

It’s rare to go any deeper than about 12-15m at Dinah’s, because all the critters are usually found in less than 10m.

On my dives there I saw a superb orangutan crab, a quite incredible decorator crab, some beautiful coleman & harlequin shrimps, mantis shrimps, a moray eel cleaning station, cockatoo waspfish & several colorful frogfish.

I am very sure there was much more to see if I had the time to explore the site further!

Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay North Coast Dive Sites – Deacon’s Reef at Lauadi

Deacon’s Reef

Deacon’s Reef is one of my favorite dive sites in all of PNG.

It’s a coastal reef right on the headland that protects the bay where the nearby village of Lauadi is located.

Its location on the headland means that is is exposed to the strong and nutrient rich currents that flow up and down the north coast of Milne Bay.

Those currents nourish the superb gorgonian fans & beautiful hard corals to the found at Deacons.

What is quite special about Deacons is that some of those fans have grown to epic proportions in shallow water, close to the overhanging rainforest.

The overall effect is truly spectacular and creates a really fantastic and very photogenic location.

Deacon’s Reef is truly quite something and I have also written a dedicated page for it.

Diving Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay North Coast Dive Sites – Wahoo Point

Like Deacon’s Reef, Wahoo Point is a dive that I have done several times before and one that really sticks in my mind, because of the huge elephant ear sponges to be found there which are quite unlike anything I have before.

Like many of the coastal reefs on the north coast, Wahoo is a site where there is a good chance to see the “big dogs” of the sea and there are regular sightings of mobula & manta rays, hammerhead & tiger sharks, minke whales & whale sharks.

Elephant Ear Sponges at Wahoo Point

But on the two dives of trip I did there the big dogs could have been right behind me and I would not have known as I was fixated on capturing images of the sponges.

The sponges are a slope that goes down to about 18m before dropping off to about 60m.

What that means is that you are shooting up the slope, usually with the sun in the frame and making it difficult to balance the light.

I managed to get the lighting right, plus I had a very cooperative dive guide who doubled up as my model and provided some very nice perspective so that the size of the elephant ear sponges are revealed in the images.

A great site – but keep one eye over your shoulder on the look-out for those big dogs…


Milne Bay North Coast Image Gallery

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