Just returning from 5 days and nights at Walindi (July 2014). 11 dives over 4 days in Kimbe Bay.
In summary, Walindi is a beautiful hotel in a gloriously tropical surrounding. The diving is absolutely top class and worth the effort getting there.
The hotel and surroundings: a collection of tastefully done bungalows in a lush tropical forest. The owners have clearly spent a significant amount of time landscaping the property. The feel is like walking though a manicured rain-forest. There is an amazing variety of plants, trees and vines. Birds are everywhere. The bungalows are very comfortable, while being suitably rustic to match the surroundings. The bungalows have a portico with a view of the bay.
The diving: Simply amazing. Seriously. Lived up to its billing. Most dive sites are a 45 minute boat ride from the dock. The majority are coral gardens or wall dives. Currents tend to be minimal. The visibility is generally very good (80 ft-100 ft on good days).
The coral is the healthiest I have seen in over 20 years of diving all over the world. As another reviewer mentioned, the coral here seems to be an example of what the Caribbean was like 100 years ago. There is a vast variety of colorful, healthy, hard coral (not as much soft coral as Fiji, but some exists).
There are very large schools of countless varieties of small fish in the coral gardens and along the walls. Lots of macro critters also. There were sightings of turtles, crocodile fish(!), stone fish, scorpion fish, lion fish, lobsters, rays, numerous flying fish, pods of dolphins and eels. Some of the dive sites have a bit more current (still quite manageable) and large schools of large fish. Dive site Otto had a very large school (~500+) of barracuda. There were so many barracuda, they formed a 40 foot swirling wall.
The highlight of the trip was swimming with a very large (8 to 10 foot fin-to-fin) Ocean Sunfish (mola mola), which was basking near the surface of the sea. It was the first time that one had been seen in Kimbe Bay in at least 5 years. The Sunfish was spotted by an alert diver as our dive boat was taking us to a dive site.
The people: Really, really great. The boats are driven by and dives are led by PNG locals. They are extremely friendly and professional, and go out of their way to ensure that you are comfortable and have a good time. Special mention to dive masters Martin and Willy, and boat drivers James and Domenick.
The dive operation is led by a very garrulous, affable old salt, Gary Kulisek. Gary is professional, knowledgeable, experienced and keenly focused on diver-safety. He ensured that we had a top-notch experience. I would recommend any diver to his operation. Gary is also a worthy conversationalist - his repertoire of opinions is as numerous as Kimbe's coral species.
Dining: A multi-course dinner is served buffet-style at 7 pm, while lunch is served on the dive boats, generally off the sandy beach of a small island in Kimbe Bay. The staff were very willing to provide local PNG fare for us.
Getting there and away: no joke, it is a hike. We flew from New York City to Brisbane, via LAX. Then from Brisbane to Port Moresby. From Port Moresby to Hoskins. Then a 45 minute drive from Hoskins to Walindi in the hotel's bus. The drive from Hoskins to the hotel is through the lush West New Britain countryside, with large oil palm plantations on either side of the road.
Believe everything that has been written about the restroom at Hoskins airport. It has got to be the absolute filthiest place on earth. It is dirtier than the Augean Stables. Do everything possible not to use it. I am serious.
So in all, I highly recommend Walindi. The diving is superb, the hotel lovely and the people great. It is worth the effort getting there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Walindi Plantation Resort, established in 1983, is an intimate dive resort situated on the shores of Kimbe Bay on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Celebrating over 30 years of operation, the resort is world famous for its quality of diving, international award-winning photography and warm hospitality. The resort's guest book reads like a Who's Who in the world of Sport Diving and Underwater Photography and the resort has been voted to have the "best diving from a resort anywhere in the world" by reader surveys. Walindi Resort offers 12 traditional style, self-contained bungalows spread along the beachfront and surrounded by rainforest gardens along with 8 Plantation House rooms. Bungalow facilities include en-suite bathrooms, ceiling fans, large windows to catch the tropical breezes, kitchenette with tea and coffee making facilities, and private verandas overlooking the beach and gardens. The central resort area is the social hub of Walindi and includes the tropical and airy reception and dining room, lounge and bar area, swimming pool, sundeck, boutique and a comprehensive library with computers for guest internet connection. Wireless internet is available in the main resort area. Catering to a small number of guests at the resort means you receive undivided attention, yet the freedom to feel every dive has been made for you alone. Good company, great food, friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere provide a perfect backdrop while you enjoy the delights of Kimbe Bay diving. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Walindi Plantation Hotel Kimbe
- Walindi Plantation Resort Kimbe, Papua New Guinea - New Britain Island