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Located in Oro Province in the south east of mainland of Papua New Guinea, the Tufi Dive Resort is a small, remote resort of just 25 rooms that has much to offer both divers and non-divers alike.
A one hour flight from Port Moresby (via a short touchdown in Popondetta) cruises in over turquoise waters and stunning reefs before touchdown on a tiny landing strip.
A two minute transfer takes you to Tufi Dive Resort, the only resort in the area; you will struggle to get more remote than this. There is a small village but other than that there is just you and the stunning scenery that surrounds you. And it really is stunning. The area is known for its vast fjord system; inland waterways where the lush landscape drops dramatically into the crystal clear blue sea. The resort itself is perched on the side of a hill with a stunning view over one of the fjords.
By Papua New Guinean standards this is a luxury resort although it would be going too far to call it truly stylish or high-end. That being said it caters perfectly to the needs of divers and non-divers alike. The communal areas are expansive and crafted of local woods adorned with the traditional wood carvings of Papua New Guinea. You will likely spend a fair bit of time in these areas as the resort has a communal feel to it (don't come here for a romantic getaway); all meals have a set menu and are taken at common times with the rest of the guests at the resort.
The food itself is surprisingly good. The previous manager, Matt, spent eight years as a chef and has brought the food up to a very high standard. While choice is limited, what is on offer is excellent. Buffet-style continental breakfasts can be augmented with a cooked breakfast (for a charge); lunch is a simple one course affair, and dinner a full-blown three course feast. And you can wash it all down with drinks from the well-stocked bar.
The rooms are basic but comfortable. All have en-suite bathrooms, fans, air-conditioning and balconies, normally overlooking the fjord. They are not luxurious but perfectly good especially when you consider the small amount of time you will spend in the room. There are also interconnecting family rooms making this a good choice for people with children.
There is a lot going on at the resort and activities include diving (of course), fishing, sea kayaking, spear fishing, beach picnics, snorkelling, walking, cultural tours and much more. The manager, Shaun has lots of big ideas so this list is sure to grow as time goes on. The resort also has a number of basic guest house dotted at beaches around the area if you fancy a night alone on a picture perfect beach away from everything else. There is also a small swimming pool for a dip after a long day diving; you could easily spend ten days here without getting bored. And as you walk around you will bump into a variety of non-human characters including a toucan, a wallaby and a variety of lizards, all of which add to the exoticism of the place.
The resort is keen to not just be seen as a dive resort (despite the name) and so offers a wide range of activities suitable for everyone and not just divers, and there is a lot to appeal to families. There are cultural tours to the local village where you are paddled up the river on traditional canoes by locals in colourful traditional dress, and given demonstrations of ancient practices such as facial tattooing, how to make sago (the local staple carbohydrate) and warrior practices.
And then there is the diving, and it is stunning. There are more than 15 local dive sites that range from muck diving in the fjords and the inner reefs, to the further afield (about 40 minutes by speedboat) outer reefs which are where you will find the big stuff. These reefs are coral bommies rising up from the deep and there are still many to be discovered with the best of the known ones being Cyclone Reef, Veale Reef, Mulloway and Stewart Reef. There are also a couple of wrecks in the local area such as S'Jacob, a Dutch merchant ship that was sunk during a Japanese air raid in WWII though this is only for experienced divers.
Sightings of hammerheads, and a variety of reef sharks are common but it's not just the big fish that are the attraction here. The coral is incredibly healthy and there is a wide variety of macro life, so overall there is much to appeal to divers no matter what their preference.
Overall, this is an excellent place to spend a few days whether a diver or not. The location couldn't be more stunning and while staying here could not really be said to offer 'diving in style' it is the very best you can get if you want to dive this remote area of Papua New Guinea.
Why we love it
We didn't see it while we were there but at Veale's Reef, one of the top dive sites, there is an albino hammerhead; you don't see one of those every day!