With beautiful wooden cabins, the 20m MV Chertan sails to the pristine reefs of Papua New Guinea, where up to 10 divers can sample the incredible marine life including pygmy seahorses and nudibranchs.
What To Expect On a Milne Bay Liveaboard
Liveaboards in Milne Bay explore the best of this sheltered, deep-water inlet, which has attracted scientists, missionaries, pearl traders, and Japanese and American warships throughout its history, but is now a magnet for divers. Located in the remote southeast of Papua New Guinea, Milne Bay is considered by many as the place that put PNG on the international diving map. It is blessed with prolific marine diversity and spectacular underwater landscapes dotted with its fair share of WWII wrecks.
Beyond its healthy reefs, deep walls and coral gardens, diving in Milne Bay is renowned for it's "muck diving". Liveaboard boats take divers to the perfect spots to uncover all kinds of weird yet wonderful critters amongst the silt, sand and rubble of the sea bottom.
Milne Bay Underwater
Liveaboard diving in Milne Bay is like entering into a subaquatic Garden of Eden, filled with many unique and ostentatious creatures that are sought-after by underwater photographers. Hiding in broad daylight among the black volcanic sand divers can enjoy all kinds of the bizarre critters such as the shape and colour-shifting antics of a mimic octopus, considered one of the most intelligent species under the sea, or an adorable pygmy seahorse clinging to gorgonian sea fans in the gentle surge. As the sun sets over the Pacific keep your eyes open for a stripy, Wunderpus octopus coming out to hunt.
Shallow bays protected by outlying reefs are home to the likes of Wobbegongs, also known as carpet shark, and dugongs. Meanwhile out on the reefs and walls frogfish blend in to the corals, as scalloped hammerhead shark, Manta Rays, and sometimes even Whale Sharks and Minke Whales can be seen. And no diving in Milne Bay would be complete without checking out one of the WWII wrecks.
Dive Sites Of Milne Bay
The first day of liveaboard diving in Milne Bay is often at the wreck of the Muscoota. Visible from the surface, the wreck of this 1888, 4-masted British Royal Navy Clipper, sits encrusted in sponges and soft corals in Discovery Bay.
No Milne Bay Liveaboard diving adventure would be complete without a visit to the isolated Dinah's Beach where the beguiling and addictive world of "muck diving" is supposed to have begun. The black sand beach slopes down into the depths at about 30 degrees, but the best stuff is to found exploring the shallows.
Diving on the north coast of the bay at Lauadi offers another iconic PNG muck-diving site that is packed with sea life between 2 and 15 meters (5 - 50 feet), which is home to a constantly changing cast of critters along with the seasons.
Only accessible by boat, nearby Deacon's Reef proves that Milne Bay diving is not just about spotting the cryptic in the volcanic silt. Here reef species, sharks and rays play among splendid coral gardens of cabbage corals and green tube coral trees grow on an undersea cliff in just 12 meters (40 feet) of water, in the shadow of the rainforest canopy overhead.
The only way to experience the wonder of the Manta ray cleaning station at Gonu Bara Bara, or Giants@Home as it has been named, is with liveaboard diving. In the middle of the southern China straits, the single coral bommie that rises 15 meters/50 feet from the sea floor is one of the most reliable places in Papua New Guinea to observe and get more closely acquainted with these majestic creatures.
Perhaps Milne Bay's most well-known wreck dive is the B-17 "Black Jack" Bomber. It lies undisturbed in deep water at the bottom of an abundantly populated reef wall.
Top Tips For Divers
Unlike the rest of Papua New Guinea January to April are considered the prime time for diving in Milne Bay, a time considered the wet season in the rest of the country, but as ever, any time of year is a good time for a dive cruise in this are.
Average water temperatures range from 24-29C/75-84F, so don't waste packing space with think wetsuits when a skin or 2-3mm summer suit will do.
Out of the water you won't need lots of layer either on liveabord boats in Milne Bay, as coastal temperatures are typically as warm as the water.
For muck diving, even more than on the reefs, it's best to stay shallow and move at a snail's pace to spot the best the murky sand has to offer.
Getting To Milne Bay
With few road, steep cliffs and secluded coves, the best way to get the most out of diving in Milne Bay is on a Papua New Guinea liveabaord trip. Your departure point is the provincial capital, Alotau, built on the hillsides of the northern shore, which can be reached by a short connecting flight from the international airport in Port Moresby to Gurney Airport (GUR) in Alotau.