Over the past 30 years I have dived in more than 12 countries, visited some of the best places in the Pacific to dive. In September 2008 when on a trip to the Kabaira/Rabaul area of New Britain in Papua New Guinea, I did a dive that ranked in the top few reef dives I have ever done. This dive was called Harrys Step Up.
This dive site is located off the western end of Cape Liguan and is about 7.9 kilometres from Kabaira Resort. It takes about 20 minutes in their "slow" boat (does about 23 km/h). to get there.
|Kelly and a gorgonia on Harrys Sunken Reef
|A giant sponge on Harrys Sunken Reef
This dive starts on a reef called Harrys Sunken Reef or similar. This is east of a series of dive sites called Tom, Dick and Harry. I had dived Dick a few days earlier. The dive starts at GPS S4Â° 11' 14.2 E151Â° 58' 28.5" using WGS84 as a datum.
Once you enter the water, you drop to the reef and head north. The depth here is about 22 metres or so, although the reef has a gentle slope that drops to over 40 metres. All along this reef there are hundreds of gorgonias. Strangely, all are orientated in line with the direction of travel rather than at 90Â° as is normal.
|Sea Whips on Harrys Sunken Reef
|A yellow gorgonia on the main Harrys Reef
As we drift along, we see a beautiful clown-triggerfish and a large turtle. The reef has quite a few larger coral bommies that protrude from the main part of the reef. About xx minutes into the dive, we come to a large gorgonia that is at 90Â° to the direction of travel. This prominent gorgonia is a signpost for us to turn. The dive operator, Steve, is already here and making sure that we turn to the left.
We now started swimming across the channel that separates Harrys Sunken Reef from the main Harrys Reef. I see a shark as we leave the reef and go over the sandy bottom.
|Kelly with a huge gorgonia on the main Harrys Reef
|Another gorgonia on the main Harrys Reef
We are swimming at a bit more than the 90Â° required to make sure that we do not end up too far down Harrys. As we go, we drop a little lower to keep in contact with the bottom. We are at about 27 metres and the bottom appears to be at about 50 or so metres.
After about six minutes I see the shadow of the reef and then, about three or four large reef sharks. We again turn, this time to our right, to follow the reef. We are now heading roughly north-east. The current here is perhaps half a knot.
|A large barrel sponge with fish on the main Harrys Reef
|One of many schools of trevally on the main Harrys Reef
This is a fantastic reef, with huge gorgonias and barrel sponges. The gorgonias as some of the best I have ever seen. One of the gorgonias is at least four metres wide. There are also lots of sea whips.
The fishlife is also prolific. There are a number of schools of barracuda, trevallies and more.
As I mentioned this is one of the best dives I have ever done, perhaps even the best coral reef dive I have done. Visibility was 25 metres, water temperature 29Â°C and the seas mirror-like. Well worth doing, I would have liked the time to do it again.