House reefs are a bit like next door neighbors – nearly everybody has one but how much time do you really want to spend with them?
So when I hear that the next dive is on the house reef I usually take it to mean that the best diving is over for the day…
But the one at Tufi is one of those sites where, despite the number of times I have dived it, I always seem to find new and interesting stuff to see & photograph.
The house reef is in the main Tufi fiord around the dive shop wharf, the nearby public wharf & the reef that stretches out on either side.
The general location has been the loading & unloading point for the settlement and the surrounding area for a very long time.
Which means that around the two wharfs is very much a muck dive – commonly defined as a dive that takes place where there is no beautiful scenery.
Scattered around is the flotsam & jetsam of several decades, including a variety of WWII debris from 1943 when the fiord was a forward base for US Navy PT Boats.
Two PT Boats were destroyed & sunk in a spectacular refueling accident while moored at the jetty in March 1943 and wreckage from that incident can be found on the slopes of the fiord.
Plus what is left of one of the boats lies nearby on the bottom of the fiord at a depth of nearly 50m.
Away from the wharfs there is a little bit of everything – from sea grass around the bay, to hard & soft corals and elephant ear sponges.
Diving Papua New Guinea: Tufi Wharf & House Reef – Critters
The area around the wharfs is the great place to find critters, particularly during the dry season from July to September, and in the peak diving months of October & November when the water is cooler and the critters come up into shallow water.
As all dives start from the dive shop wharf you can easily spend an hour or more poking around it and the nearby public wharf, because in amongst all the rubbish & debris are the nooks, crannies & hiding places that critters love.
Although the sides of the fiord are fairly steep and go down well in excess of 50m, most of the critters can be found quite shallow which usually means hunger, rather than lack of air or deco time, will get you to the surface.
My usual routine, if I am looking for critters, is to spend 10-15 minutes around the dive jetty wharf and then head south to the public wharf & then onwards to the wall areas that leads out from the small bay into the main fiord.
Most of the critters & things to see are in less than 15m of water and it takes around 30 minutes or so to reach the point where the bay becomes the main fiord and it’s time to turn back. Along the way you will find pipefish, ornate & robust pipefish, dumpling squid, twin-spot gobies, crocodile fish and lots of nudibrachs!
The Tufi guides know the area intimately and where to find the critters, so ask for a guide if spotting is not your forte…
Tufi Wharf Critter Image Gallery
Diving Papua New Guinea: Tufi Wharf & House Reef – Golden Hour
The area to the north of the dive wharf, which forms a small bay, can be particularly good in the late afternoon.
As the sun goes down it creates a wonderful “Golden Hour” effect as the sun’s rays hit the water at a shallow angle & create cathedral lighting underwater.
When I know the conditions are right I set up a wide-angle lens on my camera and head for the area to see what I can find.
The last time I was there I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with both the resident school of razor fish and a cooperative cuttlefish, both of whom I managed to get in position to make the most of the superb light.
I could have stayed there for hours, but when the sun disappeared behind the nearby ridge it was game over.
The area is in less than 6m, so it’s a great place to head at the end of the dive and let the nitrogen release, particularly if you have been deep to see the PT Boats.
Further round on the eastern side of the bay there is a nice hard coral reef with a lot of fish life, but you need to dive this area in the morning to see it at it’s best as it’s usually in the shade of the ridge in the afternoon.
Diving Papua New Guinea: Tufi Wharf & House Reef – Night Dives
Most night dives at Tufi are conducted from the dive whar.
After dark the area around the two wharves is even more of a “target-rich environment” as many of the critters that were asleep during the day come out to feed.
The area to the south of the wharves also takes on a different persona at night and there is also much to see there that you won’t see during the day.
I always make a point of calling at the resident pair of clown fish on the slope at about 12m to see them tucked up for the night behind the mucus membrane that acts as an early warning trigger in case a predator tries to sneak up on them in the dark.
I have often seen the porcelain crab, that usually hides under the skirt of the anemone during the day, tucked up with them!
Next Page: Diving Tufi’s PT Boats
Back To: Scuba Diving at Tufi