Kabaira Resort is located to the south-west of Rabaul on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. After the eruption of the volcanos in Rabaul in 1994, the diving options diminished. In about 2005 Steve Woolcott started a dive operation at his family's Kabaira Plantation (Steve died about 2012 when overcome with some sort of toxic fumes in a barge - so sad). He and his wife Marsha had already started running a guest house a few years earlier. For more information on the resort and other related matters, see my page on Kabaira/Rabaul General Information.
Kabaira Resort is located right on the waters of Ataliklikum Bay. I cannot attached a Google Earth photograph of the location as the resolution of the satellite photos is so poor as to be useless. Anyway, if you have a map, the Kabaira is right at the north-east corner of the bay.
|Clown anemonefish ("Nemo") at Kabaira House Reef||Spine-cheek anomonefish (tomato clownfish) |
In front of the resort is a great dive site. This is known as Kabaira House Reef. It is a great third dive of the day and also an excellent night dive. If you let Steve know that you want to do this dive, he will arrange for a tank to be refilled and brought to the area in front of the dinning/bar area.
After gearing up, you walk about 10 metres to the boat ramp and enter the water here. It is very shallow so you need to walk out a bit till you are chest deep. You go past the dive boats before putting your fins on. You will then need to swim out about 50 top 75 metres before decending.
|Clear shrimp with clown anemonefish ("Nemo")||One of many firefish seen|
It will still only be about 1.6 metres deep here, so if you are light, you should snorkel out further before descending. At first the bottom is sand with a lot of weed/reeds. You head south-west and the depth starts to increase. Once you get to about five metres coral reef is seen on the left and the weed has disappeared.
Keep going for now as you can explore this area on the way back. Once you get to 12 metres, there is a very good wall on your left. In this area there are mantis shrimp, although I never saw them. They live in holes just off the reef. Anyway, have a quick but you can examine the area in more detail on the way back.
|This may be Rudman's Phyllidiella - Phyllidiella rudmani||I think that this is Ocellate Phyllidia - Phyllidia ocellata|
Follow the reef edge rather than the wall. The coral here is lettuce coral. You will soon get to 15 metres. On your left you will see another wall. Follow this wall as it curves to the left. The wall goes south, then south-east and then east. The depth gets to 18 to 20 metres.
There are lots of barrel sponges and some sea whips. Along this section of reef there are short-finned bannerfish, Moorish idols and trumpetfish. When the depth comes back up to about 12 metres, look for a huge sea whip that is at least six metres long. In this area I saw a medium sized cod and a small turtle. There is also an anemone with "Nemo" type clownfish near here.
|Anne's Chromodoris - Chromodoris annae||This turtle was at the furtherest point of the dive|
You should turn around here as you will have been in the water for at least 30 minutes. Follow the 12 metre level back to the west and then north. This will take you right back to the reef where you first saw the larger wall. Along the way, look fore firefish as there are many to be seen along the way.
When you get back to the sand, follow the reef closely as you head north-east back towards the exit. In this area remember to look again for the mantis shrimps. Also look for anemones. There are some with very dark tomato clownfish as well as some more "Nemos".
Slowly work your way back till the reef disappears. If you can stay down, it is worth staying submerged till you are back in 0.6 metres as there are some interesting things to see through the weed. We saw a sea horse here as well as some nice crabs and small flutemouths.
|These starfish are just two of the numerous starfish seen at Kabaira House Reef|
The visibility here can vary a bit. On low tides, the visibility in the shallower areas (above five metres) and be as little as three metres, in the 12 metre area about 12 to 15 metres and deeper it can be as good as 25 metres. At high tide, the visibility is much better shallower. Even at low tide the visibility does not affect the dive as you really do not need any more in the spots where it is poor. Water temperature is at least 29ÂșC and as much as 32ÂșC in the shallow bits. You could easily do a 90 minute dive here without getting bored. A great shore dive!
Beware that at the time I write this, the charge for a night dive on the reef is an excessive K145 (about $75). However, the charge for a day dive is only K20 ($10) which is basically the cost of an airfill. This price really should be increased to say K30 to cover the costs of carrying the tanks to and from the beach. The cost of the night dive should be reduced to this same figure or perhaps K40 to take into account that Steve would have to pay his staff "overtime" to refill the tanks before the next day's diving.