Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

Photo: Walindi FeBrina

A valley of red sea whips sway in unison in the current of Susan’s Reef. Huge barrel sponges stand guard over the underwater ridges in Christine’s Reef. Florescent-colored soft coral light up the caves of South Ema Reef. Dogtooth tuna dive deep into Inglis Shoal. It’s hard to decide where to explore first in Kimbe Bay.

Papua New Guinea’s Kimbe Bay is home to one of the healthiest coral reefs in the world. It’s surrounded by volcanic cones. It’s home to about half—that’s more than 400 types—of all the hard coral species. Large schools of barracudas and jacks patrol the warm water. A pod of resident dolphins are always putting on shows. So it’s no surprise that one of the best dive resorts is located here.

That resort is the Walindi Plantation Resort. The family-owned resort opened almost 35 years ago. They’ve been perfecting the underwater experience ever since. The Walindi Dive Centre maps out nearby snorkeling spots, where you can see big fish, coral gardens, and funky critters as soon as you put your mask in the water. There are three custom-built boats—the Cheyne, the Charmaine, and little Ema—to explore more than 40 sites in Kimbe Bay during both day and night dives. Plus MV FeBrina, a live-aboard vessel, travels to islands and reefs beyond the north coast of New Britain Island for multiple days at a time.

Photo: Walindi FeBrina

Don’t worry, it’s just as comfortable above ground. Twelve bure-style bungalows are scattered among the rainforest garden. They’re made of local timber and feature thatched roofs and covered verandas. There are plantation house rooms, as well, but they aren’t nearly as cute. Paths lead through the greenery to the quiet pool and the sundeck. Colorful books about marine life and underwater photography litter the lounge. Freshly caught seafood, just-picked fruit, and beef from the neighboring Numundo Plantation are served at Casuarina Restaurant. While a stool at the Planters Bar is the best place to be inspired by your fellow guests’ adventures.

Those adventures extend beyond the water. One couple went to the hot river, where swirling pools and small waterfalls are heated by a volcano. They were motivated to hike up active Mount Gabuna tomorrow. Two history buffs are planning a drive along the Talasea Peninsula to find airplane wrecks from World War II. Others will depart before dawn seeking birds and medicinal plants not found anywhere else in the world. You’re thinking about a quick after-dinner trip to see a pulsing wave of synchronized fireflies nearby.

Just keep your camera on you at all times. Something tells you that every moment of this trip is going to turn into a memorable one.

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