Witu Islands are situated to the North West of Kimbe Bay and this area is visited by MV Oceania at selected times during the year. A cross section of diving includes sea mounts and black sand bays around the islands, so this area provides a perfect mix of both pelagic activity and critters.
The Witu’s are also a hub of activity for the locals who often paddle out to trade fruits and vegetables in their traditional style canoes. Young children are fascinated by divers and will often paddle out just to dive down and play in the rising bubbles.
A long extinct volcanic caldera, Fathers Reefs are a series of off shore reefs located along the northern coastline of New Britain to the east of Kimbe Bay and are visited by MV Oceania at selected times during the year.
Fathers Reefs are a hub for pelagic activity – masses of resident schools of barracuda, tuna and jacks are sure to delight divers with their sheer enormity. Sharks are commonly sighted, typically a myriad of reef sharks including black tips, white tips and silver tips. Volcanically formed swim throughs and arches are also common in this area, a signature of the areas incredibly unique underwater topography.
Rabaul used to be known for her wrecks, but sadly they are few and far between nowadays after volcanic activity within Rabaul Harbour – but what really makes Rabaul diving shine is the areas jetty dives. Macro lovers will delight at the sandy bottom dives featuring a myriad of different species of frogfish, harlequin ghost pipefish, bumblebee shrimp, harlequin shrimp, mandarin fish, coconut octopus, boxer crabs, leaf scorpion fish and nudibranchs - just to name a few.
SOUTH COAST NEW BRITAIN
The reefs in the Gasmata and Lindenhaven areas on the Southern Coastline of New Britain are little visited reefs featuring "critter diving". MV Oceania dives in this area for limited departures, operation out of Rabaul.
This area includes Waterfall Bay, Jacquinot Bay and Lindenhaven. South Coast New Britain diving is a wonderland of rare and unusual critters with most of the diving on fringing reefs and lagoons. This is quite different diving from the dramatic sea mounts and deep drop offs of Kimbe Bay and our North Coast Itineraries. If you prefer big fish and dramatic sea mounts, then this is probably not the itinerary for you, and we would recommend that you look at doing a North Coast New Britain itinerary working out of Walindi.
If you are a photographer and enjoy macro and critters, South Coast New Britain is sure to delight. Around the Lindenhaven area, the contours of the Solomon Trench (the third deepest part of the world’s oceans) come in very close. In Captain Alan’s opinion, this is the reason that we get so many extraordinary critters in this area, some of which we can’t find in any resource books. Critters that are regularly seen on the Lindenhaven dives are mimic octopus, frogfish, over 47 different varieties of ghost pipefish, jaw fish, cuttlefish, arrow crabs, orangutan crabs, leaf scorpion fish, rock mover wrasse, pipefish, anemone fish, holothurians, banded shrimp, lionfish, scorpion fish, crocodile fish, soft coral crabs, flying gurnards, nudibranchs of every description, bubble shells, cowry shells, garden eels, flatworms, Spanish dancer and muchmore. Some years we get rhinopious. We have had sightings of the very rare juvenile African Pompano Trevally and the beautiful pink fondosa.
As many of the dives are not overly deep, we will often run an “open deck”. The reefs in this are area prolific and there are many, many reefs that we have not yet dived upon. The topside scenery is amazing with many small, uninhabited islands with white sand beaches. There are a couple of clean rivers that run from high in the rainforest down to the sea. One of the rivers comes out of the side of a mountain and we often run a trip via the chase boat to the cave where the river comes out, which is always popular.