Perched on top of a limestone headland on the northern side of the peninsular that forms the north coast of Milne Bay, and surrounded by dense rainforest, is the brainchild of Rob van der Loos – Tawali Dive Resort.
Rob is one of the pioneers of recreational scuba diving in Milne Bay who has been diving the area for over 30 years and probably knows it better than any other single individual.
The concept of building a dive resort in Milne Bay is simple & elegant one – take a known set of great dive sites and build an eco-friendly lodge & support facility close by so that divers can enjoy significantly more creature comforts than on a liveaboard and even bring their family along. Plus they can come for just a few days as & when they want, rather than being tied to the fixed schedules of a liveaboard.
But this is PNG, where very little is as simple as it may seem… starting with the basic fact that 97% of the land is owned by groups of people, rather than individuals, so the negotiations associated with purchasing a specific block of land can be rather difficult & long winded…
In the case of the land that Tawali is built on, it took 8 years to complete those negotiations, then add in the fact that there are no roads, no mains power or water available and you start to get the picture.
So the finished resort says a lot about Rob van der Loos and his determination.
Tawali Dive Resort Image Gallery
The main lodge & accommodation are built on the limestone headland overlooking a small bay & house reef to the south and outwards towards Fergusson & Normandy Islands in the D’Entrecasteax goup, while to the north is a larger bay where the service area for the resort is located.
Arrival at the resort is via boat at the main jetty in the southern bay and a short walk, up a wooden boardwalk, brings you to the entrance of the main lodge which hosts the main reception area, the restaurant, a small bar and the large observation deck overlooking the bay.
Covered walkways lead from the main lodge to the individual guest bungalows and then around the headland to the service area.
Simply stated, the finished resort is impressive & exceptionally well run, the guest bungalows are very nice and the restaurant managed to produce superb meals every time I went in there.The outdoor observation deck was a particular favorite of mine and a great place to linger with a cold beer to watch the sun go down after a long days diving…
Diving Papua New Guinea: Logistics at Tawali Dive Resort
During the 10 days I spent at Tawali everything just happened the way I was told it would.
From my dive gear disappearing from out side my room on the first day and appearing again whenever & wherever I needed it next, to the dive sites I asked to re-visit or requesting something special for lunch – it just simply happened!
Logistics can make or break a trip and I really liked the way the service area had been set up as a kind of satellite to the resort, complete with it’s own jetty and re-fueling area.
This allows guests to wander down from the resort to the main jetty at the assigned time, with the boat ready and waiting to go, having already been prepared round at the service jetty.
On the return, the boat simply pulls up at the main jetty again dropping you off to take the short walk up to the main lodge for a coffee, or cold beer if the day’s diving is finished…
Diving Papua New Guinea: Underwater Photography at Tawali
Underwater photographers are very well catered for at Tawali and many of the really big names of the profession, such as Roger Steene, visit regularly because of this. There is a large dedicated camera preparation & battery charging room underneath the main lodge, or alternatively you can prepare your gear in your room, which have plenty of power points and a desk for camera assembly & downloading images to your laptop.
The dive boats all have large freshwater rinse tubs dedicated for camera outfits and the staff know how how to handle the guest’s equipment.
The dive sites accessible from Tawali offer everything from super macro critters to fish-eye wide angle photo-opportunities and the image gallery from my trip are available on the link below.
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