markw

markw

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Reviews (2)

MV FeBrina Liveaboard

5
5
5
5

The FeBrina is a comfortable boat that sleeps 12 guests and sails from Walindi Pantation to the reefs of KImbe Bay for the majority of the year. Walindi is reached via an internal PNG flight from Port Moresby to Hoskins Airport and a 90 minute drive. Our trip was in August with air temperatures in the low 30’s °C and water temperature a constant 29-30°C.

The cabins are comfortable and air conditioned and the staff provide a daily laundry service which means you can survive on minimal clothing if you need your luggage allowance for more important things like dive gear and cameras.

Food is plentiful and varied, using local produce as much as possible.

The crew, from kitchen staff to dive guides are extremely friendly and helpful. Camera facilities are good, with benches and open lockers provided for each diver on deck. The guides are exceptional at finding interesting animals for photographers and non-photographers alike. The briefings are clear and accurate, probably a reflection of the extensive experience they have of the sites. Up to five dives a day are available, with nitrox as an option. There is little current to worry about and the nature of the reefs make long slow ascents a real pleasure.

The majority of dives are at coral outcrops in the Bismark Sea and these show an amazing variety in substrate and fish life between sites. The soft corals are most impressive, as are the schools of fish experienced at some reefs. There is one site (Restorf Island) that will satisfy those interested in muck dives, which is also a great night dive. There is no end of nudibranchs and other cryptic animals. The scenery is spectacular, and the macro life is prolific. You won’t be disappointed by the opportunities provided on this trip.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 10/30/2014
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Alor Divers Eco Resort

5
4
5
4

We visited Alor Eco Dive in October 2014. The weather was quite warm to hot at this time.
Getting there involved a flight from an international airport (Denpasar, Bali, in our case) to Kapung and another flight to Alor. One thing to be aware of is the baggage limits on internal flights. 20kg to Kapung and 15kg to Alor. This is not too much of a problem because the charge for excess baggage is only about $1.50/kg. From the Alor airport, there is a road trip of about 1 hour and then a 30 min boat ride.

The resort is small and quite isolated, catering for 12 divers and up to two additional people. The accommodation is basic - open wooden huts with thatched roofs. They have verandahs with water views and are basic but comfortable. Staff is sourced from local villages and are helpful and friendly (although conversation was limited due to lack of a common language). Electricity is 220V and is provided by generator that are turned off at various times, specifically during the day when dives are being undertaken. Internet access is available but limited.

Food is sourced from local sources where possible and while the ingredients don’t have the variety available in larger towns, each meal makes use of local recipes and these are very tasty and interesting. There is no shortage of food. Beer and soft drink is put on a tab to be settled at the end of the trip.

The diving day starts at around 8 am after breakfast in the comfortable, open, communal eating area. The routine involves two guided boat dives a day with access to the house reef for self-guided diving at other times. The house reef provides opportunities for excellent night dives, and we were encouraged to use it. Water temperatures were variable, ranging from 30°C with the occasional thermocline where 21°C was recorded. The chance of experiencing lower temperature currents makes a wetsuit advantageous, although not necessary. For sites that involve a longer boat trip, a double dive is run, otherwise the second dive is in the afternoon.

The diving is great - clear water, never less than 25m visibility, untouched pristine reef and plentiful small fish. We didn’t see many large reef or pelagic fish but that may have been related to the lack of usual currents. The local population uses traditional fishing traps, making for interesting photographic opportunities as well as potentially having some impact on the fish life.

Most sites are relatively shallow (less than 25m), and are near the coast. There can be strong currents and thermoclines, making diving here more suited to experienced divers, Sites near villages had little rubbish, unlike other places I have visited. While travelling to sites on the boat, we regularly saw dolphins (100+ at a time) and the occasional blue whale, although we didn’t get to spend time in the water with them.

The highlight of Alor is the variety of diving.
There are volcanic sands suitable for macro, with numerous nudibranchs, pipe-fish, rhinopias etc. Wide-angle opportunities abound on the spectacular walls and sponge life that grows on the flat reefs. Most sites are great for either macro or wide-angle photography, making the choice difficult. The dive staff was very helpful with the choice of lens. There is a wall dive where regular sightings of hammerheads are made - only one of our group was lucky enough on this trip. One highlight of the visit was anemone city, which had acres of spectacular reef covered in anemones. The second site that rates as one of the better walls I have seen is Bamah wall. It is a mass of invertebrate colour and fish. We did this twice enabling the use of macro and wide-angle lenses.

Dive guides were interested and willing to look for specific subjects. The dive staff was camera aware and careful but space is limited on the boats if the group has many large cameras. Tubs are provided for soaking cameras in the huts.

Snorkelers are catered for with the ability to accompany the divers on most trips.
There is a village about 30 minutes in each direction from the resort - best accessed at low tide to enable climbing over small rock platforms. The walk is easy and the villagers are very friendly, particularly if you are happy to photograph the inhabitants.

This is certainly somewhere I would revisit.

Visited on 10/2014 - Submitted on 10/30/2014
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