Three of a kind

Live­aboard boat ex­pe­ri­ences

Paradise - - Contents -

MV OCEA­NIA , PNG

Pa­pua New Guinea’s slick new 27-me­tre MV Ocea­nia cata­ma­ran, which has been float­ing around the wa­ters of the Bis­marck Sea since April, is up there with the best live­aboard boats. Fresh and modern, it houses up to 16 guests and runs trips of up to 10 nights, in­clud­ing Kimbe Bay, Fa­thers Reefs and the Witu Is­lands, where you can ex­plore dra­matic vol­cani­cally-formed reef­s­capes. Itin­er­ar­ies are tai­lored to suit chang­ing weather pat­terns through­out the year, and there are twin or queen bedrooms, all above deck and with en­suites.

SOME­THING SPE­CIAL

PNG is in the co­ral tri­an­gle, with the world’s high­est di­ver­sity of trop­i­cal fish and co­ral. You can also ex­pect to see ham­mer­head and sil­ver­tip sharks, dol­phins and, oc­ca­sion­ally, orca whales, pi­lot whales and whale sharks.

NEED TO KNOW

MV Ocea­nia op­er­ates seven to 10-night itin­er­ar­ies, de­part­ing from Walindi Plan­ta­tion Re­sort. Prices start at PGK12,600 a per­son (based on two sharing) in­clud­ing all meals, up to five dives a day and trans­fers. See mvo­cea­nia.com.

MV BILI KIKI, SOLO MONS

The Solomon Is­lands are home to some of the least-vis­ited scuba sites in the world, and Bi­likiki Cruises can help get you to them. The com­pany has been run­ning live­aboard div­ing trips for more than 25 years and its MV Bi­likiki is rated as one of the world’s best live­aboards. There are 10 air-con­di­tioned en­suite cab­ins, and a large sun­deck and lounge area in which to re­lax after dives. Speak­ing of which, you’ll be div­ing in un­pol­luted wa­ter among healthy co­ral, trop­i­cal fish, sharks and school­ing bar­racuda, as well as some fas­ci­nat­ing macro life, in­clud­ing pygmy sea­horses and ghost pipefish. You’re likely to also do cave dives, night dives and World War 2 wreck dives.

SOME­THING SPE­CIAL

Lo­cally grown fruit and veg­eta­bles are de­liv­ered to the boat in dugout ca­noes al­most daily, by lo­cal grow­ers to whom Bi­likiki Cruises pro­vides seeds to grow their pro­duce.

NEED TO KNOW

Bi­likiki Cruises runs trips from seven to 14 nights, from about PGK13,900 a per­son (based on two sharing) and in­cludes all meals and snacks, un­lim­ited div­ing and trans­fers. See bi­likiki.com.

NAI ’A, FIJI

Fiji’s Nai’a has been run­ning since 1993, but re­ceived a facelift in 2010, so you get 26 years of ex­pe­ri­ence with all the mod cons. The 36.5-me­tre live­aboard has nine en­suite rooms, a gor­geous wooden din­ing room and bar and a large sun­deck (pic­tured), the per­fect spot for a post-dive cock­tail. The Nai’a trav­els around Bligh Wa­ter, Mutiny Mount, Wakaya Is­land Chan­nel and the Ni­gali Pas­sage, where divers of­ten see sharks, manta rays, schools of big­eye trevally, hun­dreds of species of colour­ful reef fish and co­ral gar­dens. Guests of­ten cite the ever-friendly Fi­jian crew as a high­light of the jour­ney.

SOME­THING SPE­CIAL

Nai’a guests are also likely to visit a lo­cal vil­lage dur­ing their trip, and take part in a tra­di­tional kava party.

NEED TO KNOW

Nai’a of­fers seven to 10-night trips, from PGK13,800 a per­son (based on two sharing), in­clud­ing tax, trans­fers, all meals, tanks and weights. See naia.com.fj.

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