Milne Bay is where diving started in Papua New Guinea! Actually, that's not entirely true, because Bob Halstead, Kevin Baldwin and other members of the Port Moresby Diving Club all started diving in and around Port Moresby. But it was strictly for fun and personal pleasure, and not for the outside world. It was not until Bob designed and built Telita in the 80s and took her to Milne Bay that people around the world realised that Papua New Guinea was somewhere rather special when it came to diving.
Milne Bay Province starts at Collingwood Bay on the North coast of the PNG mainland and takes in the legendary Trobriand Islands, D'Entrecasteaux & Louisiade Archipelagos to the East and ends on the South coast at Orangerie Bay. The provincial capital, Alotau, is a pretty little town in a wonderful setting, looking South and East from Milne Bay proper towards the Engineer Islands. Lush tropical mountains are the ever present back drop, flat coastal plains making way for oil palm plantations and market gardens.
The people here are Melanesian in origin, with slim, slightly oriental facial features, and big wide grins! They are happy people, blessed with an equitable climate and spectacular natural resources. Arriving at the local airport, Gurney, the 40 minute drive to Alotau takes you through palm plantations, through picturesque villages, across bubbling streams and on one side, past mangroves and golden beaches and on the other, towering rainforest clad mountains. The port bustles with fishing boats, small coastal freighters loading palm oil and fresh local produce.
From Alotau dive vessels can strike northeast around East Cape, diving Sullivan's Patches, Banana Bommie and Cobb's Cliff and the wonderful muck dive at Observation Point before heading northwest to Cape Vogel and the legendary wreck of Blackjack, the B17 bomber. To the East the towering islands of Normanby, Furgusson & Goodenough make up the D'Entrecasteaux Islands; covered in forest and seemingly uninhabited, at night you will not see a single light on any of these islands. You're that far from home! Or they can head south east to Samarai, where the wonderful cathedral like piers of Samarai Wharf make for a wonderful dive. It was on nearby Deka Deka Island that I had a fabulous encounter with a dugong in November 2000. Near Samarai is the marvelous manta dive, "Giants at Home", the 8 knot drift dive "The Washing Machine" and the wreck of a P38 Lightning aircraft. For the adventurous of spirit you can head far to the East, to Egum Atoll or the Calvados Chain; the diving here is almost untouched. Few know what surprises might lie in store down here!
The diving in Milne Bay is exceedingly varied - muck diving at Observation Point & Dinah's Beach, one of the world's classic coral structures - Deacon's Reef - drift dives, wreck dives, wall dives, shallow patch reefs and deep oceanic reefs. This really is world-class.