Stunning, untouched, full of life, full of surprises and clearly very rarely visited – that best sums up the diving off Tufi. Reefs rise up from hundreds of metres of depth and some break the surface. There are always sharks and always pelagics. Some of these outer reefs have strong currents. The dive boat is covered and offers comfortable rides to and from these sites, and some are up to 45 minutes away. The crew of the Tufi Resort knows them well. Besides the obvious known reefs there are so many sites to explore under the guidance of the professional Tufi Dive Team, that you simply cannot go wrong. Diving in Tufi is an essential addition to a PNG dive holiday.
TUFI Dive Resort has possibly one of the most dramatic settings found in New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is one of the most appealing dive destinations with so many diverse destinations within; from the best liveaboards to the tiny islands of Northern New Ireland. Tufi Resort is one of those diverse destinations. Unlike traditional beach resorts Tufi Dive Resort is located on a cliff top in the Oro Province and overlooking the ocean. In spite of this lack of conventionality, Tufi is one of the must-visit dive locations in PNG. It has incredible diving, with a perfect combination of adrenaline reefs packed with sharks, to some of the finest calm macro dives in the fjord lands. Tufi has its quirks however and on this page, we hope to inform you of how to get the very best dive vacation at Tufi Dive Resort.
THE DIVE LODGE
To best describe Tufi Dive Resort would be to liken it to a safari lodge in Tanzania. It is made up of a series of diver friendly air conditioned bungalows with balconies. The rooms are quite comfortable and the food is excellent, but this is the most rural and basic locations in PNG, so you should not expect five star hotel experiences. The staff are brilliantly led by the gentle and yet so competent Brian Boustridge. He and his team cater for special diets and special requests. Tufi Dive Resort is however unique in its appearance. It is not on a beach, indeed beaches are hard to come by in Fjords, but on a cliff overlooking the sea.
Tufi dive resort sports an amazing view of the surrounding fjords and hills from the rooms, balconies and dining area. A small pool is situated in the centre of the lush gardens between bar area and viewing deck. Dinners and drinks are served sometimes in the cosy restaurant or made into a feast with open air BBQ on the decking area overlooking the stunning fjord. The resort only has 10 rooms, so space is limited. Most packages are full board, but on the standard packages there can be some small but niggling hidden charges added. We always sell an ALL inclusive package at this resort to avoid any extra laundry or internet charges. Please contact us for a fully inclusive package stay at Tufi Dive Resort.
THE LOCAL AREA
The fjords are called fjords as they look exactly like fjords in a tropical setting, but in essence they are of an entirely different making – where fjords are cut out in the landscape by ancient slow moving glaciers, these ravines in Tufi are made thousands of years ago when volcanic lava streams simmered down and carved them out. The lava and volcanic ash left a highly nutritious layer of soil and residue and the green hills and jungle all around are the stunning result.
This means that besides diving, the location is superb for hikers, bird watchers, kayakers and fishermen. The Resort organises day trips but even a 1 hour stroll outside the resort has you right in the middle of lush greenery with scenic views of the fjords, while a myriad of colorfull birds and butterflies dance around you while you hike.
An interesting fact about the butterflies near Tufi Dive Resort is that the famous Queen Alexandra Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae), the largest butterfly in the world, is endemic to this Oro Province and is now listed as highly endangered (CITES, IUCN Red List 1996)– if you have a chance, ask the local guides to search for pupas or fully grown butterflies known to be around. This intriguing insect needs the old growth forests of the Oro Province to thrive and feed in and is restricted to local habitat areas for mating. They only live for about 3 months, so you have to be there at the right time! The stunning Queen Alexandra Birdwing can reach a wingspan of just over 25 cm wide – the size of a small bird.
Guides at Tufi Dive resort and all staff hail from the local villages – their families are fishermen and small scale subsistence farmers and extremely friendly. When dressing up for a sing-sing at the Tufi Dive Resort their traditionally painted faces with white dotted lines are as pretty and dainty as their flower- filled surroundings.
The scuba diving is mind-blowing around Tufi but you need to know what you will see depending upon the time you go. The best time to dive the outer reefs of Tufi, is when the sea is calm: between November and June. There is an argument that says that Tufi is best visited during this calm time, but we inspected Tufi Resort in theheight of the winds and found the diving to be spectacular in the calm waters, but this is what you need to know.
The outer reefs off the coast are beyond compare. They are literally shark infested coral structures that poke out of the water. The outer reefs of Tufi are located in crystal clear blue water between 4 and 20 miles offshore. During the calm season, you can be on the dive site very swiftly. But in the cusp seasons, you will need to travel for longer periods (45 mins and more) in a mild sea state. This is not for everyone, so if you don’t have your sea legs and you want to see sharks, tuna and barracuda in great viz, make sure you visit between November and June. When the wind blows hard even the hardiest divers cannot get out of the inlets. This is the perfect time to dive the fjords. These are world class dive sites in their own right. The fjord reefs are packed with coral, fish and nudibranchs. The only issue is that the visibility hangs around 10-25metres and the water can be green. To the experienced diver this is of no matter as the marine life is so prolific as to need a week to explore the fjords alone.
When diving from Tufi Resort, there are 2 main different areas to focus on. There are a huge number of dive sites inside these fjords offering stunning diversity and vibrant reefs. The green water should not hold you back – go below 12 metres and visibility clears up! These fjord dives around Tufi are easily accessible, in warm waters, and within easy reach of the resort. A macro –photographers dream in itself! Dives in these fjords can be done at any depth between 6 and 26 meters, and with very short travel time between resort and site, this is a fantastic opportunity.
The fjords also harbour another surprise – a wreck right in front of the dive centre, on the house reef – where the true extent of the uniqueness of diving the Tufi fjords becomes clear: it drops down to over 40 metres where you will find: a Landrover and a series of wrecked fishing boats. And at the very bottom of the sound is the skeleton of an American PT Boat. (Tufi was a US PT boat base in the second world war)
The combination of sheltered macro sites and challenging open water reefs is a unique feature for Tufi Resort. The windy season is in general from June to October, and the crew will try and take you out where possible – but keep this in mind when planning.
The ‘in’ house dive centre is actually slightly ‘out’ of house, and situated at the bottom of the cliff next to the sea. This means a stroll down every morning to go diving and a steep hike up every afternoon after your return (although a ride in the resorts’ land cruiser is always possible). There is no NITROX available in Tufi Resort. The national dive guides are excellent and knowledgeable. Managers may come and go, but the constant here is the quality of local dive guides and their boat captain.
GETTING TO TUFI
The Tufi Resort can only be reached by plane via Port Moresby, and only on a few days a week. When planning your journey, please contact us to make sure you have enough time between arrival and departure so that you can make your connection. As with all air travel in PNG, planes don’t always turn up, and are sometimes cancelled (so good travel insurance is vital). In addition, we always build in a large amount of leeway in your bookings to make sure that you get out on time. Tufi ‘Airport’ has a crushed coral runway, and so it has its own unique issue: when it is really rainy the runway becomes waterlogged and the larger Dash8 planes cannot land.
We can also organise charter flights for groups. The lighter charters can nearly always land in Tufi even on a semi waterlogged runway. Ask us to make all your arrangements and we’ll do our best to avoid the PNG factor when booking your holiday.
TUFI? ITS TIME TO VIST
When combining this dramatic natural landscape, the untouched remote reefs of Tufi, and the diving of the FeBriNa and Walindi Plantation – our guests end up with an unbeatable and once in a life time journey to Papua New Guinea. Ask us now how to combine your 2-centre dive journey to this most vibrant, wild and diverse of dive destinations in the world.