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Diving Nusa Island Papau New Guinea

Written by Mike Doswell

Welcome to Nusa Island RetreatCould this have been my best dive ever? Wait I’m jumping ahead….. ok so it’s my turn to share with you all a little info on my trip to Papua New Guinea, for those who don’t know me, my name is Mike and I’ve actually been working with Lee and Perth Scuba for just over a year now, my job mainly consists of teaching and coordinating the courses.

I recently returned from PNG after a short and sweet dive trip to see what a lot of the fuss has been about in PNG. The place we where staying and diving was in a province called New Ireland (thankfully no Irish) its sits in a set of islands north of the mainland of PNG, to get there it takes several flights, Perth-Brisbane-Port Moresby-Kavieng. Kavieng is the main city in New Ireland.Scuba Ventures by Mike Doswell

Upon arrival early on Thursday evening we were promptly met by Kara, Kara along with Dorian her Husband and 2 Year old daughter Victoria run Scuba Ventures in Kavieng and have so for the last 15 years, originally from South Africa they have years of experience in the dive industry and have settled into the nice laid back Islander life style.Kara gave us a short ride to a dock where we were picked up by a small boat, after a 5 min short trip across the water we arrived at Nusa Island Retreat. Nusa Island Retreat was originally set up as a surfers retreat, brother and sister Shaun and Shannon who run Nusa Island Retreat have spent the last decade really turning what was a camp site into a true tropical hide away.

Spinecheek clownfish by Mike DoswellAll the accommodation and buildings are built in true PNG style with woven walls and leaves for roofing all sitting on stilts, their location and sizes range from a small couple sized building to a large 6 person 2 storey house, some are set towards the back of the property while others sit over the blue waters surrounding the Island. The whole place is designed around being eco and local friendly, it uses self composting toilets, filtered rain water for drinking and well water for showers, there are no TV’s, no Internet access and only fans in the rooms, however there is more than enough cold beer or cocktails, hammocks to lay in or water to swim in to be more than comfortable. It’s fantastic to simplify because it really lets you stop and relax, it gives you a chance to chat with the locals and other patrons staying or interact with the variety of wildlife which now calls the retreat home. The whole place centres around the restaurant and bar, with its huge open air design and large benches, it makes it central for everyone to hang out while deciding which activity to take on. Nusa has a large range of fun things to do including, fishing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, tours, snorkeling and even table tennis. Once we had checked in we headed into the restaurant area for dinner and a cold beer, every evening dinner is served as a buffet, we had delights like tempura crayfish, fish curry, exotic salads, mud crab, satay chicken and more all topped up with a daily home made desert. Shortly after dinner it was time to hit the hay, it had been a long day and with a pick up at 8.30am the next morning I wanted to be bright and alert, ready for our first Dive in PNG.Lionfish on wreck in Papau New Guinea

After a warm but comfortable sleep under my mosquito net I got to catch a first glimpse of the place in the morning light, it really was my kind of paradise. Walking around in no shoes as everything is on sand I headed to the restaurant for a quick bite to eat of banana pancakes before being picked up by Kara & Dorian and the local boys who help them out. They have a comfortable sized boat with enough room to move and all kit up at the same time, we speed off and within 5 minutes we were at our 1st dive site called the Der Yang which is a Taiwanese fishing vessel sunk in the 80’s sitting in 30m of water. We did a quick dive brief before plunging over the side into 31c of warm water and visibility of 30+m. Immediately I noticed a huge school of Barracuda surrounding me as I descended towards the wreck, not being a huge wreck it didn’t take long to get around it before we made our way onto the reef surrounding, aside from the occasional shark and Spanish Mac cruising past the highlight for me was the fact there was over 7 species of Anemone fish (Nemo’s) on the one dive. So after around 45 minutes we ascended climbed on board and headed across to the Scuba Ventures HQ, we ate fresh fruit and discussed the dive and planned the following dives later that day, our other dives sites we tackled were the blow holes which is a nice easy drift dive with large Moray eels and white tip reef sharks & swim throughs, 2 WW2 Japanese fighter planes (Jakes) with more Lionfish on them than you can poke a stick at and finally a dive at dusk in the Harbour. We watched Mandarin fish come out and play which was a nice way to cap off the day before returning to Nusa Island Retreat, we sank a few cold beers and had another delicious feed of BBQ’d Crayfish and fresh fish, not to long after I was hitting that wall and headed to bed, dreaming of the dives to come the next day.

Cave dive in Papau New Guinea by Mike DoswellAnother fantastic morning! I had a chance to have a chat with Shaun and Shannon and find out a little more about the locals as well as what life is like living in PNG, by all accounts its sounds quite laid back however with a few new projects coming up including a research centre they have been flat out trying to get materials shipped to them to start construction. Before we had a chance to get to stuck into more details Kara and Dorian arrived with a few other divers to head out for another day diving in warm tropical waters, the great thing about Kavieng is you have 2 Seas to dive in, the South Pacific and the Bismarck, this gives a little more variety to the types of fish life available as well as options for different weather conditions. 40 minutes boat ride and we are at the Bismarck Sea, even from the boat I could see we were in for a treat as it was crystal clear and looked amazing. The dive site is called Albatross passage and it is one of the premier dive sites of New Ireland, we dropped onto a reef wall at about 30m deep where Kara pointed out things like the hard to find Pygmy sea horse as well as the large pelagic fish cruising by, when we ascend up to around 10m the current picks up and pull you across to the top of the wall, this is where we used reef hooks and clipped in to sit and watch as all the fish swim by, how much more relaxing can u you get? We had a surface interval and popped down for another easy wall dive and then made our way back to Nusa Island retreat for a bite of lunch and siesta. Later that afternoon we were picked up and ferried across to Scuba Ventures HQ where Dorian drove out to what would be the highlight for me on the trip, I was about to tackle my first Cave dive! We drove through the centre of Kavieng picked up some sweets for the local kids and to get permission from the local landowner we arrived at cave called Liga Onui. The cave has a small climb down into where the water entrance is, we had quite a following of all the young locals helping us get the gear down as well as making fun of me trying to put a 3mm wetsuit on. Liga Onui is actually a source of fresh water for the locals in times of drought so we had to be very careful not to silt up the water and obviously no peeing! The water temp is a mild 28c and crystal clear! The cave itself its not to large with a maximum penetration of around 35m and max depth of 19m, originally a dry cave it has a large section of stalactites which makes this unique because the only form above water levels so at some point the water level had changed, also inside can be found a selection of Japanese rice bowls still with the Naval anchor on the bottom from WW2. The dive only lasted around 20mins but it was 20 minutes of some of the best diving I have ever done! It was so clear that even in some of the photos you could not tell you were underwater; it really was one of the most amazing dives I have ever done. We then packed up the gear dished out some sweets to the kids for helping us out and headed back to Nusa Island retreat for dinner and drinks.Cave entrance in Papau New Guinea by Mike Doswell

Our last day in Kavieng boo… well 1 last dive would be all we could fit in as we fly out early the next day. Dorian had chosen his favorite site for us to dive, it’s called the Deep Pete, and it is a small WW2 bi-plane wreck in 40m that Dorian himself had discovered several years ago. It was planned as a 15 minutes bottom time dive so I was going to make every second count with the camera, I was not disappointed being only a small site with nothing else other than the wreck, I encountered Lionfish galore, Batfish and several large Sweetlips. The wreck itself has ammo, 3 guns, Compass and a radio on it, to bad that 15 minutes was up and time to ascended out of the crystal clear warm blue water. Dorian and Kara were fantastic and being only a small operator it makes it much more enjoyable to be not just another number on a boat.

Once back at Nusa we had the rest of the day to check out the islands and other activites, first on the agenda was lunch followed by a walk around the Island next door Big Nusa. Big Nusa is only a stones throw from the retreat (literally) and only houses a few villagers. We had one of the local boys take us on a tour to show us the blow holes as well as the Japanese gun emplacements and bomb craters. A little under 2 hours for an easy round trip even stopping to enjoy a fresh coconut or 2. Upon returning to the retreat we were invited out to go see how the boys would go fishing for a few hours, they didn’t have as much success as the night before where they landed a 12kg Spanish mackerel! We did not have a huge last night as we were being picked up 4.30am for our flights back home, alas the end of the road, oh well guess this just means ive got a lot more to look forward to next year when we return for the Perth Scuba trip in July.

For more information on this exciting dive holiday Contact Us and attend our Papau New Guinea Trip Information Evening on Wednesday 16 November 7pm.

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