Reader reports on Micronesia diving by jqy64044

VIEWS: 11 PAGES: 11

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be done — entry can be pretty rough.         high volcanic peaks are lush and
There is a large variety of tropical fish,   green, and a close, fringing reef
everything from flame angels to dragon       makes the diving easily accessible,
eels to lion fish to gold-flake angel fish   but it’s not high-voltage diving
(Kim told us they are only found in this     on a par with Palau.
area) and many more. Trevally are seen
on every dive. A huge school of bar-         Kosrae Village, Village At Pohnpei,
racuda seemed to hang out at one loca-       May 2003, Chris Davies, Redwood
tion. Other places we’d see Napoleon         City, CA. Experience: 251-500 dives.
wrasse. Sharks and turtles are seen on       Water: calm, choppy. Kosrae Village
most dives. A small school of dolphin        while more “third world” than the
swam in front of us on one dive. Lots        Village at Pohnpei, it was delightful.
of mantas. A juvenile manta became           Owners (Katrina and Bruce) were so
curious with us and spent over half an       accommodating and gave “laid back”
hour with us — coming within a foot to       new meaning. The staff reflected their
make eye contact and continually cir-        style and as a solo traveler was very
cling us. We’d often see mantas feeding      comfortable. Food good, accommoda-
on the surface; we’d get into the water      tions while Spartan (however included
with snorkel gear on, Kim would move         fridge) were well kept, with a delight-
the boat away, and we’d float with the       ful tropical feel. The Island is beautiful,
mantas feeding all around us. There          although only did sight-seeing from
was a school of hundreds of spinner          dive boat. Coral outstanding, fish num-
dolphin — we’d don masks and                 bers small. Somewhat inclement
snorkels, hang onto the outrigger’s pon-     weather didn’t prevent diving. Loved
toon while Kim drove the boat. The           the very low key environment and fun
dolphins (some mothers with babies)          diving, except on Sunday. Village at
would be frolicking all around us. Most      Pohpe — Awesome accommodations
of the time the water was calm without       (but did miss fridge in the room). Food
any strong currents. Kim and his staff       exceptionally good, staff friendly and
did everything possible to make our          again accommodating; camaraderie of
experience a great one. Trips can be         the locals, guests and expatriates added
arranged through Frontiers International,    dimension to solo travel. Weather
800-245-1950, or contact Kim                 somewhat inclement but didn’t
Andersen at divekiribati@juno.com.           adversely affect diving. Bring rain
(www.fun2do.com/divekiribati)                slicker. Outstanding dives, big stuff —
                                             manta rays, schools of barracuda,
MICRONESIA                                   sharks etc. Dive boats uncomfortable
                                             for long trips to atolls. Sidetrips on
Kosrae                                       land must do. Great shots of schooling
                                             barracudas. (www.kosraevillage.com,
This small, unspoiled island didn’t          www.thevillagehotel.com/
get jet service until 1987, and it           scubadiving.htm)
still hasn’t changed much. ... Its

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      Sleeping Lady Divers, Kosrae                ed some tuna and lobsters. A real
      Village Resort, December 2002,              adventure; dive operation is trying to
      Michael N. Hofman (mhofman@                 establish diving there.
      jmoyerlandscaping.com), San
      Francisco, CA. Experience: 251-500          Palau
      dives. Vis: 80 to 120 feet. Water: 79 to
      82 F, choppy. Second trip to Kosrae         Long day-boat rides to the best
      and Kosrae Village Resort. Bruce and        diving weave through calm water
      Katrina and the rest of the staff are so    and past magnificent rock islands,
      friendly. While the diving wasn’t super     but there’s the potential for rough
      for the most part, the last day’s diving    seas on the outer edges of islands.
      made up for it (furthest dive site at the   ... Most serious divers prefer live-
      end of the island) — squadrons of           aboards due to the length of the
      eagle rays (at least seven), sharks, tur-   daily commute from Koror. ...
      tles, eels and tremendous vitality of the   Marine biodiversity is among the
      reef. The island and the people are         greatest in the world, but major
      great. KVR’s accommodations are             coral bleaching and commercial
      thatched roof with all the benefits (cof-   fishing is taking its toll. ... Visibility
      fee maker, fridge, fans, a wonderful        can exceed 200 feet, while currents
      outdoor shower); the restaurant is one      range from nil to dangerously
      of the best with fresh food and great       strong. ... The capital city of Koror,
      variety. The dive operation is top notch    well along the way to being
      — they do a lot of training there and       Caymanized by massive tourism,
      all possible mixes are available! They      has excellent ethnic restaurants. ...
      took great care of equipment and us in      The best handicrafts are prisoners’
      and out of the dive boats.                  carved wooden story boards for
      (www.kosraevillage.com/                     sale at the jail in town; hand-
      diving.shtml)                               pressed coconut oil from street
                                                  vendors is a good gift for your per-
                                                  sonal massage practitioner.
      Marshall Islands
      Taluit, August 2002, Wuni                   Fish’n Fins, December 2002,
      Ryschkewitsch, Gainesville, FL.             Michael N. Hofman (mhofman@
      Dives logged: 3,350. Vis: 30 to 200         jmoyerlandscaping.com), San
      feet. Water: 80 to 84 F. This was an        Francisco, CA. Experience: 251-500
      experiment. Divemasters from U.S.           dives. Vis: 80 to 120 feet. Water: 79 to
      and boat from Majuro and guide from         82 F, currents. Third trip with Fish’n
      N.Z. Diving was great, discovered a         Fins. Tova and Navot (who have
      100-year-old German wreck not found         owned the Ocean Hunter) make it a
      before. Hotel primitive and funky. 10       great experience. The local dive mas-
      divers, six had beds, four on mattresses    ters are knowledgeable, competent,
      on floor. Brought food from Majuro          safe, and do a great job. We were
      and cooked ourselves. Natives provid-       scheduled for two dives a day, but after

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the first two we came into the harbor,        first class operation. They picked us up
let off the folks who didn’t want to do       every day at our hotel dock and we
a third dive, and then went out to do         completed 9 dives, including Pelelieu
closer third dive. All the logistics (i.e.,   Wall, Mandarin Fish Lake (where we
transfers, hotels, etc.) were handled         did see Mandarin Fish), Ulong
great and Tova’s now opened a won-            Channel, Turtle Wall and Blue Corner.
derful restaurant next to the dive shop.      We went kayaking one day with Sams
They took great care of equipment and         Tours; a worthwhile and fun day.
us in and out of the dive boats.              (http://palau.panpacific.com)
(www.fishnfins.com)
                                              Sam’s Dive Tours, January 2002,
NECO Marine/Waterfront Villas,                Steve Bergerson, Lake Geneva, WI.
January 2003, Douglas Hansen                  Vis: 60 to 100 feet. Water: 78 to 81 F.
(mhel@pop3.concentric.net), San               Dives logged: 700+. This was my
Jose, CA. Experience: 101-250 dives.          fourth trip to Palau, first time with
Vis: 80 to 100 feet. Water: 80 to 84 F,       Sam’s. Other times with Neco. Diving
calm, currents. NECO Marine was               only so-so because of El Nino bleach-
excellent. They took us on night and          ing. Staff at Sam’s very mixed. One
afternoon dives with only two divers.         great divemaster for one day (Kendall),
Unfortunately, the night dives were all       and mediocre to downright rude the
local wreck dives. The dive guide,            other four days. One divemaster on one
Ernan, asked us what we wanted to             of best dives changed profile mid-dive
see, and then tried to find it for us. He     to swim against fairly strong current
was accommodating, friendly, and              for no reason causing divers to abort
helpful. He lent me a weight pouch            early, then insisted there was no cur-
when one of mine was lost. Nitrox was         rent. Very arrogant staff. Wrote to
somewhat expensive, was worth it.             Sam’s and received gibberish reply.
Waterfront Villas was clean and mod-          (www.samstours.com)
ern with a full kitchen and a nice view
of the ocean. However, it was not con-        Sam’s Tours, Palau Pacific, October
venient to town, so we had to take a          2002, Jon Lennox, Chaumont, NY.
taxi to go anywhere. The onsite restau-       Vis: 50 to 100 feet. Water: 80 to 82 F.
rant, Captain Finn’s, had good food,          Dives accrued: 1,800+. Dive restric-
but was expensive.                            tions enforced: 110. Second trip.
(www.seapalau.com)                            Weather not as good as first. Not rec-
                                              ommended for beginners: Mach I.
NECO Marine, Palau Pacific Resort,            Current at Blue Corner. Difficult to
April 2003, Jay Levine, Charlottesville,      maintain position especially with photo
VA. Palau and the 5 star Palau Pacific        gear! Tremendous large fish and pelag-
Resort; an absolutely beautiful and very      ic action. Anenome, fish, and corals
well run facility. We all would have          beautiful. Due to rainforest-style
been happy to stay there for a month or       weather it can be unpredictable. Thus
two. Diving was with Neco Marine, a           water clarity following suit. Sam’s is

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      the best I’ve ever experienced twice!     mantles of the Tridacna clams. Sam’s
      Especially the dive coordinator Russell   gets a B+ from us. Sunset Villas had
      (a girl). Also super guides.              large clean rooms. No great place to
                                                put our dive gear. We were not on the
      Sam’s Tours, Sunrise Villas, March        beach but then they did have a nice
      2003, John and Sandra Quick               pool area. Food and service at Sunset
      (johnwquick@sprintmail.com),              Villa okay.
      Grand Rapids, MI. Experience: 251-
      500 dives. Vis: 70 to 100 feet. Water:    Sam’s Tours, Palau Pacific Resort,
      79 to 80 F, calm. Incredible diving.      July 2003, J. Traylor, Houston, TX.
      First time we could say visibility        Experience: 25 dives. Vis: 60 to 125
      restricted by huge quantities of fish.    feet. Water: 82 to 85 F, calm. The trip
      Hundreds of pyramid butterflies,          was beyond belief. This was my first
      Potters angels, bicolor angels,           dive trip. I was certified for 1 week
      Moorish idols, etc. Lots of sharks. No    before I went and my husband was an
      need for a shark feeding here. The        experienced diver. The diving was
      large Napoleon wrasse would hang          superb for both novice and experi-
      with you effortlessly in the current.     enced. We hired a private dive guide
      Almost every dive was a drift dive.       who stayed with us for the entire 10
      Occasionally we would use a reef          days and showed us the most remark-
      hook to hang out to watch the sharks      able marine life imaginable. It rained
      and Napoleon wrasse and other large       almost every day but the water was
      pelagics. We dove with Sam’s Tours.       calm with the exception of one day.
      They picked our group of 8 up at the      Sam’s Tours is the most efficient place
      Sunset Villas every morning for a 15-     I have ever seen. Friendly, helpful, and
      20 minute ride to the shop/docks. Our     reliable fleet of boats and guides. They
      three tank a day dive trip included a     took us to the best sites depending
      box lunch. The lunch/surface interval     upon the currents and visibility and the
      was done on a beach of one of the         lunches they provided were exception-
      “Rock Islands.” A highlight in and of     al. We had 18 memorable dives and
      itself was speeding through these         made many new friends at Sam’s. The
      beautiful formations. It made an oth-     Palau Pacific Resort is a wonderful
      erwise long boat ride (an hour each       resort. They wait on you hand and foot
      way) a treat, though we might not         and the food was superb! Great pho-
      have felt that way if the weather were    tography shop at Sam’s and fresh
      bad and seas rough. Guides were per-      water igloos on the boats for the cam-
      sonable and flexible about dive times.    era equipment. They help with any
      No pressure to get back to the dock by    photography needs. Dive your own
      5pm. One day we did an afternoon          profile: yes. Any dive restrictions: If
      snorkel at Jellyfish Lake. Definitely     you were not an experienced diver you
      worthwhile. Another ‘extra’ one day       needed to stay within sight of the dive
      was a 15 foot 20 minute dive at           master or guide.
      “Clam City” to look at the colorful

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Pohnpei                                    help. We did six dives over three days
                                           and enjoyed it immensely. It is all
The Village, March 2003, Steve             wreck diving and we had a maximum
Golleher, Kalispell, MT. Vis: 25 to        depth during our stay of 89 feet; it
200 feet. Water: 84 F. Experience:         does not have to be a deep dive loca-
700+ dives. Accommodations and food        tion to see a good cross section of the
at the Village, very good. Stay in         wrecks. We were well treated and they
thatched huts while sleeping on water      included lunch one day at a small pri-
beds. Diving in passes was outstand-       vate island during the surface interval.
ing. Lots of pelagic and many mantas.      (www.castleresorts.com)
Vis on incoming tides can exceed 200
feet. Ahnd Atoll, a long ride, but worth
the trip. Locals were friendly and
                                           Ulithi
speak English. Long plane ride from        Ulithi Resort, Dale Litney (edlitney@
the States. Worth the trip.                aol.com), Schaumburg, IL. Vis: 50
(www.thevillagehotel.com/                  to 200 feet. Water: 80 to 86 F. Dives
scubadiving.htm)                           logged: 300+. Dive restrictions
                                           enforced: common sense and training.
Truk                                       Ulithi is the best diving I have done!
                                           All creatures and corals in one loca-
Blue Lagoon Dive Shop, Blue                tion. The trip to Ulithi is long but
Lagoon Resort, April 2003, Jay             well worth it. We had a stopover in
Levine, Charlottesville, VA. I led a       Yap, the mantas and dive operation at
group of 13 on an 18 day dive excur-       Manta Ray Bay were top notch, but
sion to Micronesia. The trip was awe-      the hotel leaves a lot to be desired.
some. All flights for the 20,000 miles     Employees were friendly and courte-
were on time. We flew to Houston,          ous, but the hotel nickle and dimed
overnighted there and took the early       us. Food expensive, even for islands.
morning flight to Hawaii and then on       Had to pay to watch movies, for as
to Guam, the hub for Continental in        much as the room was. The boat as
Micronesia. In Truk stayed at the Blue     restaurant is a quaint idea, but all
Lagoon Resort and went diving with         rooms that face the water see a huge
the Blue Lagoon Dive Shop. The             wooden ship. And the people on the
accommodations were very nice, the         ship look right in your windows. Not
staff friendly and attentive and their     enjoyable to have to keep your cur-
restaurant was very good. Eleven           tains closed in an ocean view room.
divers in the group were split between     We flew to Ulithi on PMA (Pacific
two small boats. The boats left a lot to   Missionary Airline), professional and
be desired; small, open, no radio or       safe. The flight is greeted by the
oxygen, and some of the rides were a       whole island as it is the most activity
bit rough. Having said that, the crews     that happens there. Your luggage is
were wonderful; knowledgeable, atten-      weighed and you pay if you are over
tive, friendly and readily available to    30 lbs.; put the heavy stuff in your

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      carry on to save the cash. Runway is       Yap
      the length of the island, and the resort
      is a short walk or even shorter car        Yap is a very traditional island:
      ride. Resort reminded us of a summer       bare-breasted women, men in
      cottage on a lake. Two story, clean,       loincloths, and huge wheels of
      comfortable rooms, and nice bath-          stone money. ... Reputedly the
      rooms. We were the only guests so          best betel nut in the South
      the staff asked if it would be OK for      Pacific. ... Inexpensive restaurants
      them to just show up to cook our           and hotels. ... There are steep
      meals. No problem. They showed us          coral-covered walls and dropoffs
      where the light switches were for out-     and plenty of fish and nearly
      side lights and told us to close the       guranteed mantas. ... Yap is a
      patio doors so the frogs would not         good two- to three-day add-on
      come in at night. They offered to          to a Palau trip.
      have someone sleep on the couch in
      the lobby but we declined. Our own         Beyond the Reef, Traders Ridge
      paradise! The diving operation was in      Resort, July 2002, Michael Fox,
      its infancy, but eager to please. All      Tsukuda, Tokyo, Japan. Vis:
      brand new gear to rent, top notch.         Outgoing tide channel manta dives (20
      The dive boat, Boston whaler size,         to 40 feet), incoming tide channel
      would be on a trailer in front of the      manta dives (80+ feet). Outer reef (100
      resort in the morning. Our gear would      feet+). Water temp: 80+ F. Surface:
      be loaded and we would drive to the        Inside reef: Generally flat. Outside reef
      beach to put in. I helped load and         — varies. Traders Ridge Resort is a
      unload the boat each day and loved it.     beautiful hotel overlooking Colonial
      Off Asur island we had our first dive      harbor. Rooms and dining exceptional,
      and it was my best ever, over Palau,       and everyone went out of their way to
      Pemba, Red Sea, Barrier Reef. The          help. Beyond the reef (Dave, Jesse,
      water was so clear, my wife looked         Gordon) were a personalized/friendly
      like she was floating in air while         operation. Boats were small (about five
      underwater. Too many corals to rec-        divers max with no head) but offered a
      ognize, small to extra large. Sharks,      shaded area and drinks/snacks after
      eels, tropical fish, cuddlefish, mantas,   each dive. Some days, early check in
      turtles, cuda, and shells, etc. Unlike     (6:45 a.m.) allowed us to catch the
      anywhere else. Also dove on wrecks         incoming tide at Mill Channel. Along
      where you were still able to read dials    with the multiple mantas, there were
      and instructions. On a landing craft a     about 50 to 60 juvenile sharks, large
      warning to make sure all is clear in       schools of bass/jacks. I was able to
      front of the craft before opening door.    dive Gufnow Channel, which has a
      The locals had interesting stories of      sandy channel at about 50 to 65 feet
      the war years and always eager to          and ridges running up either side to
      talk. (www.diveulithi.com)                 about 20 feet. Saw thousands of con-
                                                 vict tangs on one dive, cuttlefish, drag-

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on wrasse, banded pipefish, large           manta on the Big Island of Hawaii.
school (25 to 30) of humphead parrot-       Here they are a daily occurrence and
fish, whitetips, and occasional reef        numerous on Miil Channel dives. The
sharks. Outside Gufnuw Channel is a         mantas come down the channel to
small wall with dramatic typography         cleaning stations. The guides would
with lots of tropical fish and some         position us in the sand near by and
nurse sharks. For almost guaranteed         unless something, or someone, spooked
mandarin fish sightings, try the late       them they would stay awhile. Lots of
afternoon dive at a large coral head in     sharks and lionfish too! A new species
about 25 feet near the mouth of the         for us was the crocodile fish. A high-
Colonia Harbor. I saw at least three        light one day was a twilight dive (only
each time I went. Two days I was the        30 feet for 80 minutes) to see the man-
only customer on the boat. Yet each         darin fish. What a beautiful fish. Coral
time Dave or Jesse found a good site        healthy. We give this resort an A+ and
(taking in the tides and sea conditions).   the dive operator a B+.
(www.diveyap.com,
www.tradersridge.com)                       Beyond the Reef, Traders Ridge,
                                            June 2003, Charles Wilson, Lincoln,
Beyond the Reef, Traders Ridge              NE. Vis: 20 to 50 feet. Water: 82 to 84
Resort, March 2003, John and                F. Experience: 600+ dives. Dive restric-
Sandra Quick, Grand Rapids, MI.             tions enforced: computer only. Traders
Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 70 to       Ridge is very nice property. Diving on
90 feet. Water: 80 to 81 F, calm.           Yap is really only for the mantas.
Traders’ Ridge Resort is fabulous. The
grounds are beautiful, the pool area is     Beyond the Reef, Traders’ Ridge
landscaped exquisitely, the public          Resort, September 2003, Julian
spaces and open air bar and restaurant      Lamborn, Houston, TX. Experience:
are elegant and tropical genteel as were    501-1,000 dives. Vis: 60 to 100 feet.
the rooms. If you had a nondiver in the     Water: 83 to 85 F, choppy. The accom-
group that wants to sunbathe and hang       modation and food at Traders’ Ridge is
out at the pool and enjoy a few ‘boat       first class and the staff do everything to
drinks’ they could be happy here. If        ensure the visitor has no problems. The
they add spa services it would be per-      Beyond the Reef dive operation is
fect. The food at the restaurant was so     good and uses small fast boats (with
good we never left the property. The        canopies) suitable for up to four divers.
seafood dishes were sublime. Breakfast      The dive-staff are helpful and handle
and lunch services were a bit slow for      all the gear including setups and wash-
divers on the go. Beyond the Reef did a     ing. The dive operation is run by Dave
real nice job. Diving was tide depend-      (an ex-pat) and he has competent dive-
ent so we had to leave at a specific time   masters particularly Gordon (a helpful
each day. Yap is known for its manta        Yapese). The hard coral on Yap is, for
sightings for a reason. In 400 previous     the most part, in excellent condition
dives we had seen one lonely, distant       but there is little or no soft coral. Saw

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      mantas (not a lot) and many sharks         black tips also. A number of walls had
      (nurse, white tip, black tip and reef).    incredibly high percentage of live hard
      Lots of reef fish life. September is not   coral coverage and diversity — more
      the best time to visit Yap, February is    than I’ve seen anywhere. Resort and
      considered the best time to see mantas.    diving service is excellent; Peter on
      The weather was rainy one day out of       the topside and Xavier, Jan, Melody,
      six, but the vis was up to 100 ft on       and others on the diving side — all
      occasion. Couldn’t dive Mi’l channel       work hard to deliver service. Food is
      because of tides/vis, but did dive Yap     not bad — the new Filipino chef
      Caverns at the southern tip of the         makes menu changes daily to keep
      island — awe inspiring. Great trip and     limited island ingredients interesting.
      worth 15 hours in a plane! Take your       Food is served on a wooden 19th cen-
      own equipment and develop the films        tury Indonesian ship, the Mnuw.
      when back home. Yap has no good            MRBH makes their own breads, beer,
      photo processing facilities.               and many other food items. Book the
                                                 island dinner at the Pathways Hotel
      Yap Divers, Manta Ray Bay Resort,          (Tues. and Sat.) once — it’s the one
      November 2002, Ted Shieh, M.D.,            place to have semi-Yapese feast.
      Chicago, IL. Vis: 20 to 100+ feet.         Trader’s Ridge Resort also provides a
      Beside one brief sighting in Valley of     nice dining alternative. If the diving
      the Rays, we saw no other mantas the       wasn’t what was expected, at least the
      rest of the seven days. The beginning      culture is fascinating. An island tour to
      of trade winds made diving off limits      a village in Maap and a local village
      on the east side of the island; hence,     tour are also must do’s. You’ll be
      rest of the week we dove the wind-         chewing betel nut in no time.
      ward side and southern tip of Yap          (www.mantaray.com)
      proper. In the mornings, we waited
      fruitlessly in the Mi’il Channel. Nitrox   Yap Divers, Manta Ray Bay Resort,
      would have been great in theory for        February 2003, Mike Garrison
      extended bottom times at 70-foot+          (mgarrison@gbutler.com),
      depth but no mantas. Wish we had           Leawood, KS. Experience: 101-250
      known November was the migration           dives. Vis: 15 to 30 feet. Water: 82 to
      month when mantas leave the east side      86 F, calm. Yap is a wonderful place
      (reappearing on the west side in           and excellent diving. Bill Acker has
      December). However, Xavier, our            carved out a diver-friendly business.
      local Yapese DM, was intent on mak-        Resort is excellent for a third world
      ing us happy; he chose the best wall       country. Large rooms, each decorated
      dives that conditions allowed and a        in the theme of sea life. Large show-
      different one each time based on visi-     ers, patios, no swimming pool.
      bility, and if there were no mantas        Restaurant and bar are on an old
      there were sharks on every dive; most-     wooden merchant ship, colorful.
      ly white tips, good number of gray         Diving operation is excellent. Staff
      reefs. Vertigo is packed full of them —    rigs all equipment for every dive.

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Water warm, wet suit not necessary.      Niue
Manta rays were mating so they put
on a show, rolls, loops, etc. Swam       Dive Niue, Matavai, March 2003, Ann
close so made up for poor visibility.    & Dan Goldsberry (d.goldsberry@
Need to dive Nitrox so you can stay      att.net), Golden, CO. Experience:
long enough to enjoy the show. Reef      251-500 dives. Vis: 100 to 200 feet.
diving was good but the Caribbean        Water: 82 to 84 F, calm, surge, no cur-
beats them here. However, their fish     rents. Niue is an island of uplifted
are more colorful and more variety,      coral, so there are no beaches, but all
not all parrots. Not a lot to do on      rain flows go down into the island
shore but a few nightspots and places    instead of entering the ocean as runoff.
to shop, cultural tour — we hired a      This means exceptionally clear water.
private guide, and he was excellent.     Poor visibility is still well over 100
All arranged through the resort. Yap     feet. No beaches also means the inflat-
has a strong cultural foundation and     able hard bottom dive boats are low-
you need to learn about it and the       ered into the water by winches, as most
stone money.                             of the island’s coast consists of dramat-
                                         ic cliffs. The people are friendly and
Yap Divers, Traders Ridge Resort,        helpful and everyone, from the dive
April 2003, Jay Levine,                  operators to the hotel staff, went out of
Charlottesville, VA. Did our diving      their way to make sure we were com-
with Yap Divers. Though Yap Divers       fortable and taken care of. Niue is a
is located at the Manta Ray Bay          totally unspoiled island with a mini-
Resort, we were pleased to be at         mum ‘touristy’ development. It makes
Traders Ridge; a five minute walk to     for a holiday in a quiet and natural set-
the dive boats. Traders Ridge had a      ting. The diving consists mostly of
pool, two restaurants and lovely         close-in sites with a wealth of caves,
grounds and was a bit more modern        chasms, and swim-throughs filled with
than the other choices. The visibility   crayfish and schooling fish. One cave,
here was only so-so and we only saw      the Bubble Cave, opened up to a cathe-
a few mantas. The dive operation was     dral of stalactites above the water.
excellent and our half day excursion     Ledges above the water in the caves
to a native village was a treat. We      frequently had sea snakes taking a
stopped in Hawaii for two days on the    break from the water. In fact sea snakes
way home and thoroughly enjoyed          are prevalent on every dive. And on
that. Our flight and diving arrange-     one dive, at Snake Gulley, snakes were
ments were made by Trip n Tour           so plentiful that their behavior of
(877-820-5686) and they were excel-      returning to the surface for air left a
lent to work with. Arrangements for      curtain of snakes in almost every direc-
our stay and tours in Hawaii were        tion. The night dive at this site was
handled by Frosch Travel (800-866-       quite exciting, as the snakes would
1623) in Houston and they were a         constantly move into and out of view.
delight to work with.                    Diving with the snakes at Niue was

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      Central & Western Pacific

      different than in Thailand or Myanmar      ing and nice rooms. It also has one of
      in that the Niue snakes are not timid or   the better restaurants on the island.
      easily spooked. They are curious and       Getting there is pretty much by
      frequently follow along to see what        Polynesian Air via Auckland or Samoa.
      divers are doing. As in much of the        Diving is done from hard-bottom
      South Pacific we found many beautiful      inflatables. One can bring a camera
      hard corals and a fair number of soft      and they’ll be glad to hand it to you
      corals. Octopus, three species of lion     and retrieve it upon return. There are
      fish, squadrons of squid, an occasional    rinse facilities available after the few
      anemone fish, blue ribbon eels, nudi-      minutes’ trip back to shore.
      branchs, bump-headed blue parrots,         (www.dive.nu, www.niueisland.com/
      three species of moray eels, and the       newpage18.htm)
      occasional white tip shark made every
      dive a discovery. And of course, being     Niue Dive, Matavai Resort,
      the South Pacific there were the color-    September 2003, Bill and Connie
      ful giant clams, including baby giant      Ehler (Ehler@texas.net), Helotes,
      clams. There were schools of dolphin       TX. Experience: Over 1,000 dives. Vis:
      along side the inflatable several times,   75 to 100 feet. Water: 75 to 77 F, surge.
      and in their winter whales are present     Niue Dive (Ian and Annie owners/dive
      right off shore. The water was virtually   guides) is the most professional and
      flat, though we were told this was the     well organized dive operation we have
      rough season, and the water tempera-       encountered in thirty years of diving.
      ture ranged from 82 to 84 degrees.         All equipment is first rate including
      Dive Niue is the only operator, and        rental gear. Tanks were 3,000+ psi on
      they are great to dive with. Ian and       all dives. Pre-dive instructions were
      Annie are ex-Mike Ball dive instructor     adequate when unaccompanied.
      trainers and trip directors that we had    Accompanied dives were above aver-
      dived with previously at the Great         age. Hundreds of sea snakes/kraits,
      Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea. Dive    swimming with dolphins, gin clear
      Niue usually does a two-tank dive trip     water and very interesting geological
      in the morning, getting back just after    sites/caves/swim throughs and virtually
      lunchtime. They will do afternoon or       undamaged hard corals. Very few inver-
      night dives on request and will even       tebrates, i.e., nudibranchs, flatworms,
      recommend the best days for it based       shrimp (lots of banded cleaner shrimp).
      upon weather and tides. They have a        Water was cool this time of year. Shore
      new gear wash and lock up facility so      diving not available due to topography
      you only lug your gear to and from the     (no beaches). Our group (10 people)
      shop on the first and last day. They are   had to rent a van ($750/week) to travel
      a pleasure to dive with! There are a       from hotel to dive operation. The
      handful of places to stay on the island    Matavai Resort, Niue’s “flagship” prop-
      that are quite comfortable. There are      erty is in good repair. The food lacks
      no luxury accommodations, but one,         imagination. There were very little
      the Matavai Resort, has air condition-     fresh fruits or vegetables. The meals

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                                                 Central & Western Pacific

were very greasy and repetitious. New      If you have to lay over in Port
manager, Dean, is attempting to correct    Moresby, consider Loloata Island
food problem. Although the hard bot-       Resort, a diver’s alternative 25
tom inflatables were very adequate for     minutes from the airport. ...
diving there was not enough room for       Malaria prophylaxis is still essen-
large cameras, i.e., housed cameras or     tial. English and Pidgin English
RSs. There were no rinse tanks on boats    (helicopter: “Mixmaster blong
but owner stated it “could be arranged.”   Jesus”) is spoken.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA                           Lissenung Island Resort, June 2003,
                                           Lori Brown (DoctorSLB2001@
Some of the world’s finest diving          yahoo.com), Germantown, MD.
is in this land just north of              Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 20 to
Australia. ... It’s a dream destina-       100 feet. Water: 80 to 85 F, choppy.
tion for live-aboards with unique          Lori Brown, Chris Green, and Justin
critters on a big scale: big fish, big     Brown Green. A small resort, a long
coral, big distances, and muck div-        way from anywhere. The diving is
ing. It’s also a naturalist’s paradise     great. Within the first few minutes of
with beautiful topography: moun-           our first dive (Peter’s Patch) we spotted
tains covered with snow in July            a solitary hammerhead shark. It was
shade, steaming jungles, butter-           curious and came within 20 feet of us.
flies as big as birds, walking-stick       Peter’s Patch is an L-shaped ridge, and
insects a foot long, and splendid          when you reach the hinge you are star-
Birds of Paradise. Most rain comes         ing into the blue. I watched in awe as
in heavy afternoon downpours. ...          my husband swam in an unending
Take a week to stay in some of             stream of jacks as a river of red tooth
the fine lodges like Karawari or           triggers fluttered around. At Albatross
Tari (even though they want top            Crossing we spotted several large
dollar) to visit indigenous, primi-        sharks. We scanned the sea fans for
tive, wild-and-woolly cultures that        pygmy sea horse. At Baudisson Bay,
are among the most interesting             off the steep wall, we spotted shark,
on the planet. The people are              turtles, and a large bump nose parrot
divided into hundreds of fre-              jetting down the wall. There was a star-
quently sparring tribes speaking           tling variety of nudibranchs on the
hundreds of languages. Men from            wall. At Lemus Island, we saw several
the stone age, covered with col-           large crocodile fish, one laying in the
ored mud, mingle in airports with          sand near rubble in 15 feet of water.
business people in suits and ties. ...     There are several worthwhile wrecks
Port Moresby is an unsafe city,            nearby. A Korean fishing boat was bare
although the big hotels are fine;          of coral but covered with a large group
but use Moresby for changing               of hawkfish. The Stubborn Hellion site
planes and daytime shopping at             is a silty, mucky dive in 45 feet of
the superb giant crafts market. ...        water with a B-25 Mitchell bomber

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