Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - Tufi Resort, PNG
As we descend through the cloud at 10,000 feet, a beautiful flood plain spreads out in front of the De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft. The Musa River snakes in from the plane's right, slowly winding its way from the Owen Stanley Ranges to the Solomon Sea. As it gets closer to the sea, the river wraps back on itself numerous times creating billabongs and scenes of beauty. At one spot, the river is only 100 metres away from another section of the river but a canoe would have to travel at least four kilometres to reach the same spot. I look out to the left of the plane and see the dirtied sea where the river dumps the sediment uplifted from the mountains. The towering jungle has now given way to a swampy flat plain and here and there are cleared areas. The river breaks into a number of branches which meander off and occasionally return to the main channel.
After 30 kilometres, the terrain begins to change yet again. To the plane's right a huge mountains rises to a height of 1925 metres (6180 feet) only 25 kilometres from the sea. This is Mount Victory and nearby are Mount Britannia and Mount Trafalgar (5660 feet - 1763 metres). As the plane heads further east , the land near the sea starts to rise from the swampy plains and becomes, in part, a grassy plateau. Soon, I glimpse a sight of the first of about 30 fjords that jut into the plateau. Spectacular!
The plane is now over Cape Nelson and the village of Tufi can be seen below as we circle the landing field. The fjords are bigger here, both longer and wider. Though not as grand as the fjords of southern New Zealand (eg Milford Sound), they are just as beautiful given the green colour of the land and the brilliant blue of the water.
From the air Tufi appears very small, a fact that would soon be confirmed. The approach to Tufi is from over the water and the airstrip runs uphill. A smooth landing has us running over the bumpy ground and the plane stops at the end of the strip. No terminal here. Dozens of nationals meet the plane, as well as our host Ken Weaving, proprietor of the Tufi Dive Resort. Our luggage is off-loaded from the plane and put onto a LandCruiser for the short trip to the resort. We walk along the main (only) road and a minute later we see the soccer field where a match is under way between the local team and one of the other five teams in the competition. Another minute and we are in the resort enjoying a welcoming drink.
What a view! There cannot be many more spectacular views from a hotel or resort anywhere in the world as here. The Tufi Dive Resort is located on the top of one fjord (Tufi Harbour) and has a commanding view. The view from the breakfast area of the Royal Tahitian Hotel in Papeete is close but I cannot think of any others that I have seen. Standing in front of the bar you look straight up the fjord below (Tufi Harbour) and turning to your left you look out over the sea towards Collingwood Bay. The resort's height of 500 feet really adds to the view.
Located 230 kilometres east of Port Moresby on the main island, it is about a 60 minute flight to Tufi. Tufi is a very small village consisting of an airfield, school, wharf, shop and homes. The resort consists of a main building with dining area, bar and lounge, a cantilevered balcony over the fjord and the accommodation rooms. The rooms are basic, with no fan or hot water but more than adequate for most people. The rooms have their own toilets and showers (although doors can be missing) and the beds are comfortable. Although there are fly screens on the windows, there are still mosquito nets covering each bed as there are no screens on the door ways.
Although there are 240 volt power outlets in each room, power is subject to interruption as it comes from a diesel generator in the village. A back up generator at the resort ensures constant power, although it was only about 135 volts and recharging batteries takes far longer than normal. The resort grounds are very well kept, with a very green kikuyu grass lawn and many flower beds.
The swimming pool was out of commission when I visited (the pump was broken) but we were assured it would return to action soon.
The first afternoon here we were treated to a singsing by the locals. This was very traditional and quite exciting. The local women were very fetching, although the elaborate tattooing on their faces detracts somewhat from their beauty.
Diving at Tufi is on reefs about 10 to 12 kilometres from the village. After walking down the steep road to the wharf (there is only one vehicle in Tufi), you board the twin engined diesel boat for the hour long trip out to the sites. See the Tufi Dive page for more information.
If you get a chance, I can recommend Tufi Dive Resort for your next holiday.
NOTE: - This report was written in 1996 and much has changed, especially the resort.