Three of a kind
Liveaboard boat experiences
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.
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.
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.
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.