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Around the waters of West New Britain lie some of the very best diving that Papua New Guinea has to be offer; home to some of the most pristine coral on the planet. And the Walindi Plantation Resort is the best place to see it from.
Walindi Plantation Resort lies an hour's drive from Hoskins Airport which in turn is an hour's flight from the capital city, Port Moresby and close to the provincial capital, Kimbe. The resort was started some 25 years ago by an Australian couple Max and Cecile who have been living in the country for over 40 years and who still run the resort with a passion today. They started with a palm oil plantation but soon moved into diving and hospitality once they started to discover the stunning reefs that litter the waters offshore.
Walindi is a very high quality resort especially when compared to many others in Papua New Guinea. Its 12 detached Plantation Bungalows are spacious and comfortable; all dark, natural wood and clean crisp sheets. They are all just steps from the sea and each features a double and separate single bed, desk area and fan (no air conditioning but it is not needed). All have en-suite bathrooms with hot water.
As well as the Plantation Bungalows, there are a further eight Plantation House Rooms that are the entry-level rooms. They are a little smaller than the bungalows and are in a block but still very nice, each with a double or twin bed and en-suite bathroom.
The communal areas of the Walindi Plantation Resort are all lovely and full of natural wood. There is a bar and deck overlooking the sea, an open-air restaurant and reception around a small pool, and a small library and indoor dining room. All in all it is a lovely place to relax, eat and drink. There is also complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the communal area (not in the rooms). They will even do your laundry for free.
The food at Walindi is good and varied; breakfast is cereals and fruits with cooked food on request. Dinner varies each night: sometimes being à la carte, sometimes a BBQ, sometimes a buffet; ensuring that you don't get bored while you are there. You eat in the large open-aired dining room and generally will join tables of eight to eat with the other guests in small groups at dinner time to discuss the day's exploits and the wonders in store the next day.
Away from the diving there are lots of activities to keep you occupied, with excellent birding, trekking, cultural tours and much more very close to the resort. While there, make sure you head up to the hot springs and also to see the fireflies after dinner one evening. Then of course you can choose to relax in this remote and stunning part of the world.
One thing it's worth pointing out though is that the beach at Walindi is nothing to write home about. It is a small, black volcanic beach; it's perfectly nice but if you want perfect white sand and turquoise seas you will have to jump on the boat and hop over to any of the number of coral islands that are close to the resort.
And then there is the diving; and what can we say other than it is truly world-class. It would be wrong to say that it is all about the coral but this is certainly the main attraction here; it is pristine and possibly the best we have ever seen. The abundance of hard and soft corals and the lack of damage is truly breathtaking. You could return to reefs like Inglis, Susan's, and Vanessa's over and over again and there is also a sunken Zero Fighter in the bay for those that like wrecks. The best sites are between 30 and 40 minutes from the resort though there are excellent reefs closer to home for the night dives and training.
Whilst you come here for the coral, the marine life isn't bad either. You won't get the fish soup that you will somewhere like Kavieng (there is a lack of current) but at the right time of year the waters can be good for both big stuff (hammerheads and even killer whales are known to frequent these waters) and macro life (best between September and November when the water is a bit cooler). Even if there were no fish at all, the coral would be enough alone to visit. The fact that you can regularly have visibility of more than 30m makes this a real winner and a lack of current means you are always doing relaxed and enjoyable dives; in fact it would be an excellent place to learn.
If you're REALLY lucky, you might find yourself diving with killers whales! There is a pod of these fascinating cetaceans that lives in Kimbe Bay.
Neill, Original Diver