13 – 25 May 2010
S5 26.191 E150 05.263 – Walindi Plantation Resort
Australians Max and his wife Cecilie were agriculturists when they bought an oil palm plantation in West New Britain, PNG in 1969. The Benjamins’ plantation is an 800 acre property along the western shore of Kimbe Bay. Running through the property is a creek called Walindi in the local language. Avid recreational divers, Max & Cecilie often dived the sites within Kimbe Bay, their front yard, so to speak. Max Benjamin Cecilie Benjamin
One day in the early eighties, they were told by friends to dive the Red Sea which was then touted as one of the greatest diving spots in the world. Off they went on a dedicated dive trip and they came back to PNG disappointed as the Red Sea barely compared to the rich and diverse dive sites of Kimbe Bay! And so began the story of Walindi Plantation Resort which started in 1985. Now reaching 25 years and going strong, the Benjamins, along with their efficient Walindi Plantation Resort staff have been proudly showing off the Kimbe Bay reefs and shoals to visiting divers from all over the world, many of whom have come back again and again from far away North America and Europe, sometimes bracing up to a 24 hour oveaseas travel. Local Papuan ladies who make sure our rooms are spic and span everyday, carry fresh towels in their heads for the next bungalows Our home for the moment, Bungalow 1 had everything we needed to rest our weary heads after each day of diving! A panorama of our view from our bungalow, just after we cleared out our tons of equipment and bags
Being in Walindi feels like you are transported to another time – another era. Twelve bungalows and four Plantation House rooms are spaciously spread out along the beach front in between meticulously cultivated tropical rainforest gardens – ensuring privacy and seclusion the way we want it. The bar, swimming pool, dining and overall central recreational area is just a short walk from the bungalows. This is where all activities are planned – the diving, snorkeling, trekking, bird watching and just plain swimming in the pool. The social hub of Walindi Plantation Resort And not to forget, this too is where all the sumptuous meals are prepared and eaten while in Walindi
We have met many interesting people in this very place – from fellow divers to many scientists & marine research students to agriculturists from the nearby palm oil plantation. This is the happening place in Kimbe Bay! But diving is why we all come here. It is why this place has reached legendary status in the diving world! The Kimbe Bay MPA network boundary is a large area encompassing 13,000km2 or 1,336,594 hectares (3,302,723 acres) offshore islands and reefs including the 52 fathom seamount globally significant area for oceanic species.
13,000 square kilometers of Kimbe Bay from Lolobao to the top of the Willaumez Peninsula is gazetted a Nature Reserve since the early 1990’s when The Nature Conservancy started their conservation work here. No commercial fishing activities are allowed inside the whole of Kimbe Bay and with subsistence fishing from a small population of locals, the reefs host a great number of fish life for divers to feast their eyes on. More than 85% coral cover, these are how the tropical reefs in the Coral Triangle should look like . . .
A world renowned coral reef scientist Dr. JEN “Charlie” Veron says this of the reefs of Kimbe “The coral reefs of Kimbe Bay take me back forty years, to a time when corals grew in lush profusion, untroubled by the problems that beset them today. A short boat ride from Walindi Resort and I am diving on reefs that have half the coral species of the world, all awaiting those rare photo opportunities that come only with the clearest water. I am hard pressed to think of anywhere on earth that has this combination of vibrant health, diversity and beauty.” Like gorgonian fans on steroids, these massive octocorals line the sea bottom at 26 meters in a favorite site called Vanessa’s And without fail, big grey reef sharks came and checked us out in the sea mounts and shoals of Kimbe Bay! From the big stuff to the small life forms, never a still moment to spare. We always couldn’t wait for the one hours surface interval to end before we could plunge into the blue waters of this underwater haven
Walindi Plantation Resort will always be special to us. This was the place where we received a most special email in October 2008 from WWF International’s Global Photo Network Manager Paul Sunters asking us to photograph the Coral Triangle. We were very very busy here in Walindi with so much to do. But we couldn’t leave without this must have picture of our Walindi friends with our flag
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