|The Coral Sea, and the land forms
and reefs that frame it, served as the theater for
numerous crucial battles during WW II. Today, this
area is a theater of underwater wonder, marqueed
by such names as the Solomon Islands, Papua New
Guinea and Great Barrier Reef. The natural attractions
here can be primitive and awe inspiring, and the
cultures follow suit.
The 922 islands and atolls that make up
the Solomons offer endlessly diverse possibilities
for diving. However, the best known sites
will be accessed from live-aboard itineraries
and shore resorts in such towns as Munda
The Munda area offers a dramatic drop-off
at Shark Point, complete with reef sharks,
Eagle Rays and large pelagics. A Japanese
freighter wreck is easily accessible in
shallow water. Rainbow Passage has coral
gardens and a gorgonian-covered wall.
The Gizo area includes
a wreck dive on the Toa Maru, a 400-foot
freighter lying on its side in shallow depths.
You can still find WW II ammunition in the
holds. There are two wartime plane wrecks,
a Hellcat and a Corsair, and a fish gathering
place called Grand Central Station, where
rays, sharks, barracuda and even dolphins
visit. Kennedy Island is the place where
a young John F. Kennedy and crew swam ashore
when their PT boat sank. There is also a
shallow reef and drop-off.
When it comes to the wild, primitive and
pristine, Papua New Guinea is the poster
boy. The remote, jungled highlands harken
back to pre-history, and the indigenous
people there have hardly been touched by
the modern world. Underwater, the power
of nature also holds sway, claiming numerous
wrecks and presenting the diver with all
the big fish action and colorful, exotic
species that can be imagined. Live-aboards
are the best way to experience PNG diving.
Some of the most famous
diving is found in Milne Bay, at the island
of New Britain. Here you will find lots
of macro critters, crinoids, Lionfish and
reef sharks. If you look closely, you might
see a Pygmy Seahorse. Volcanic gas bubbles
appear through the reefs, and you may even
encounter a Whale Shark, Pilot Whale or
Other areas include Kavieng,
which offers sharks, schools of jacks and
even tuna. Madang is a favorite for nudibranchs.
Loloata Island is also known for Pygmy Seahorses,
clouds of baitfish and numerous cleaning
stations, where tiny shrimp get up-close
and personal with their fish patients.
Off the Queensland coast of Australia, the
Great Barrier Reef casts its magic for 1,200
miles. One of the first legends of diving,
it is known as the worlds largest
living organism. In reality, its
a gigantic ecosystem, made up of multitudes
of interdependent species. It is estimated
there are more than 2,000 different species
of fish here, and 4,000 species of invertebrates.
There are numerous different environments
created by the coral reef, sand patches,
and the shoals and mud between the reef
and its islands. Underwater visibility can
vary greatly because of wave action, runoff
and plankton, but Great Barrier Reef diving
is always thrilling.
GBR diving is accessed
through dive operations in the larger coastal
cities of Queensland, including Cairns,
Townsville and Gladstone. Live-aboards also
visit the best sites in this area. At the
southern end of the GBR is Heron Island,
where youll find sea snakes, Eagle
Rays, Manta Rays and sharks. Farther north
are the Whitsunday Islands, where you get
all the usual attractions plus the possibility
of a Humpback Whale encounter. Farther up
is the famous Yongala wreck. Even farther
north, at the outer edge of the Great Barrier
Reef, are a string of sites called the Ribbon
Reefs. Their proximity to the open ocean
ensures good visibility and encounters with
large animals, including Minke Whales. At
Ribbon Reef number 10 is the world famous
Cod Hole, with its resident Potato Cod.
Moving eastward from the Great Barrier Reef
proper are the atolls and reefs of the Coral
Sea. Holmes Reef offers sheer walls, swim-throughs
and pinnacles. Agincourt Reef is a complex
of smaller reefs, and Bougainville Reef
offers moored sights and drift dives. Osprey
Reef is well known for its shark feedings.
DOWNUNDERS BARRIER REEF
Dive, Snorkel, Relax.
SV Atlantic Clipper.
A 140 foot sailing tall ship moored on the edge
of the outer Barrier Reef, sailing to a new reef
Two to five day
Dive courses, beginner
Daily Trip Departures
Full and half day outer reef trips.
Toll free 1-800-079-099
Experience exploratory adventure diving with
MV Moonlighting; the only liveaboard operating
out of Madang on the north coast of Papua New
With a maximum of 6 divers, enjoy pristine reefs
which offer all the discerning diver could wish
for: big pelagic action, macro-photography, WW2
wrecks plus personalised service in air-conditioned
Based on a small private island 15 minutes out
of Kavieng. Daily trips to the outer reefs and
drop-offs. Pelagics and small critters are waiting
for you! Family-style set up, excellent food,
perfect for small groups.Lissenung Diving, Kavieng,
Papua New Guinea
Explore the exotic
waters of Papua New Guinea aboard the 120' M/V
Star Dancer while you enjoy the quality and luxury
of a Peter Hughes liveaboard.
Service, safety, special
amenities and great diving are the hallmarks of
all Peter Hughes Diving vacations. Packages include
transfers, all meals and beverages, diving and
more. Nitrox and E-6 processing available.