Raja Ampat is certainly among the best diving in the world
Far to the wild eastern edge of the Indonesian archipelago there is a region with thousands of islands offering as many sites for scuba diving right in the heart of the Coral Triangle. It’s no a surprise that photographers and divers flock here from around the world to spend one or two weeks on a dive resort or on a liveaboard diving trip. You can be sure every effort will be rewarded: Raja Ampat homes more than 2,000 species of fish and almost 600 different corals -75 percent of the total known in all the planet-. What does it mean? That you will have the chance to see more marine life in Raja Ampat than anywhere else on the planet.
DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT
Raja Ampat, literally "Four Kings", is conformed by four main islands Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool and more than thousand sand and rock small islands, with the most different underwater morphologies: slops, ridges, channels, caves, tunnels; and an astounding diversity of habitats, each one with a different kind of diving experience: sandy bottoms as life-size aquarium, blue-water mangroves systems hosting pigmy seahorses and saltwater crocodiles at once, ideal calm sand flats as clean station for oceanic mantas, perfect murky and silt-ridden conditions for the muck diving lovers, a river-like saltwater channel of strong currents and great walls plentiful of invertebrates, Raja Ampat has everything divers want, because Raja Ampat’s reefs surpass any other reefs in the world in terms of abundance and diversity of fish, invertebrate and coral, scenic landscapes and the variety of diving conditions and topography.
As stunningly beautiful above water as below, Raja Ampat is a startling diversity of habitats to explore. Each of these -from the stark wave-, pounded slopes that drop away beneath the karst cliff of Wayag and Uranie, to the deep nutrient-rich bays of Mayalibit, Kabui and Aljui, to the blue water mangrove channels of Kofiau and Gam, to the plankton rich upwelling area of Misool and the Dampier Strait are home to unique assemblages of species that, when taken together, add to produce the most impressive species list ever compiled for a coral reef system of this size. The reefs of the Raja Ampat are specifically referred to as ‘species factories’, replenishing other reef ecosystems by sweeping coral larvae across the Indian and Pacific Oceans via their strong currents. Surveys indicate that marine life here is among the most diverse in the world, and that it houses some of the richest coral reef ecosystems worldwide.
Astride the equator, this remote group sits just west of the Indonesia -claimed portion of the immense island of New Guinea, our planet's second largest island-. This area and the neighboring country of Papua New Guinea harbor some of the most remote and untamed territory left on earth. Equally in their natural habitat are the indigenous people here, many of whom still pursue an aboriginal existence in the primeval forest as practiced for many generations. As a result, much of the jungle, and the extensive fringing reef system, are still to be found in a relatively pure and unspoiled condition.
Marine tourism as a sustainable alternative to over fishing, mining and logging has the potential to play a key role in the conservation of Raja Ampat spectacular underwater realm, while also creating actual economic benefits for the local communities that should be involved.
How to get to Raja Ampat
Divers generally enter this region via the airport at Sorong on the Indonesian province of West Papua. The first dive sites will often be around the island of Wai, only a two-hour boat run from Sorong, the quality of dives range from good to wonderful. Some dives were planned for slack tide, while occasionally the current could be challenging. Fortunately, the stronger currents also generally made for better visibility, blooming corals and greater fish activity.
When to go to Raja Ampat
Best time to dive Raja Ampat is from October to April. Topside conditions at this time of year proved to be excellent. You could enjoy cruising in virtually flat calm seas, with only some rain showers punctuating warm, sunny days. As it is generally acknowledged, Raja Ampat has two rainy seasons each year, in November/December and again in July/August.
Marine life in Raja Ampat
Barracudas, surgeonfishes, bumphead parrotfish, trevallies and giant trevallies, spadefishes. Napoleon wrasse, tunas, bonitos, 6 meters spawning oceanic mantas, manta rays, mobulas, seahorses, pygmy seahorses, frogfish, leaf fish, scorpionfish. Black corals forests, gorgonian fields, soft corals , gorgonian fieldsand. Whales, dolphins, orcas, sea turtles, salt water crocodile. Endemic species: Wobbegong shark, walking sharks.
Diving Raja Ampat: Liveaboard or Resort
Find a review of the best liveaboards to dive Raja Ampat on a budget choice:
MIDDLE: OMBAK PUTIH, SOLITUDE ADVENTURE, MERMAID, RAJA AMPAT AGGRESSOR, ONDINA, RAJA AMPAT EXPLORER, EMPEROR RAJA LAUT, CALICO JACK, AMBAI, DUNE AURORA, INDO AGGRESSOR, TAMBORA, MSY SEAHORSE, LA GALIGO.
LOW: LADY DENOK, SEAMORE PAPUA, PEARL OF PAPUA, TEMAN, MARI, ILIKE, RATU LAUT, SUNSHINE, JAYA.
There are few structures that can be properly considered as resort in Raja Ampat: MISOOL ECO RESOORT, RAJA 4 DIVERS RESORT, KRI ECO RESORT & SORIDO BAY ECO RESORT and Cruising Indonesia is proudly to work with all of them.
Being vast 50,000 sq km, the Raja Ampat archipelago is really two destinations, north Raja Ampat and south Raja Ampat, and then most of the liveaboards propose two different itineraries, because Raja Ampat is not only diversity of marine species, but also of great variety of dive sites.
A 12-14 days liveaboard diving trip is the only way to travel throughout all Raja Ampat archipelago, a large geographic area with practically no development.
BEST DIVE SITES
First at all is good to know that each liveaboard or resort generally uses their own name to appoint the dive sites, actually there are few names of dive sites that have remained as such.
Dive sites in northern Raja Ampat
Northern Raja Ampat offers endless opportunities for diving cause its topography consisting of channels, caves, tunnels, passages, canyons, chimneys.
Wayag offered up the ultimate topside photo settings. Clambering up a steep spine like slope, you are rewarded with a 360 degree view of jungle covered rock outcroppings floating in waters of every imaginable shade of blue, a quintessential "Island Dream."
Underwater Pulau Wayag has some strong currents and the visibility could be not always at the top. But there are very beautiful and healthy hard and soft coral and sea fans with many species of coral reef fish, school of anthias, glass fish, wrasse. Particularly interesting The Cathedral and Pelagic Rock. In Pelagic Rock, as its name says, with the right current: groupers, bumphead parrot fish, tunas, jack fish, trevally, mackarel, barracudas, sardines and school of silvery fish, as well as, fusillier, surgeon, batfish.
The deep Bay of Aljuy in West Waigeo offers sheltered diving with at least 2 or 3 interesting dive points for wide angle and macro. In land hornbills, cockatoos and cuscus. In the estuaries, saltwater crocodiles. A land tour to the pearl farm is usually done by the liveaboards.
Waigeo dive sites included Yellow Wall, Tunicate Wall, and Magic Log. Yellow Wall was a memorably brisk drift along a sharp vertical drop-off. The fish population was both diverse and plentiful. Great walls literally covered in hard and soft corals, a must. The passage is a narrow channel that winds almost a mile, that connect the Kabui Bay with the Halmahera Sea. You will have a exhilarating drift diving.
The islands around Waigeo: Pulau Wofoh, Pulau Yanggefo, Pulau Yeben and Pulau Pef offer also great opportunities for diving. A special mention deserve the island of Pulau Pef where a dive resort was settled with the name of RAJA4DIVERS. In the North of Waigeo, three atolls Asia, Ayu and Bud are only waiting to be explored.
Diving in a huge cave with a fantastic set of lights and sharks sleeping on the bottom. In another cave the current brings mantas and barracudas, absolutely do not to be missed.
The black forest of Indonesia: to 30 m depth there is a garden of black coral. A must see. Good chance to see mandarin fish and imitator octopus.
Kawe straddles the equator, our ship rode at anchor in the Southern hemisphere, while you dive is conducted just north of the Equator. Prominent dive site features were a towering seamount covered in reef fish and macro subjects and an inshore site with a sizable cavern. Surely lose sight of your buddy, as you will be enveloped in a whirlwind of fusiliers.
Dive sites in southern Raja Ampat
Lifetime dive at Misool
Located in remote southern Raja Ampat, Misool Island Group has excellent dives sites and offers endless diving oportunities; explorative diving is particularly rewarding in Misool and it is for sure one of the places on earth where you will find the most various species of fish, hard and soft corals, gorgonian sea fans, sponges, worms, nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs and all kind of non-vertebrates, like cuttlefish and octopus, giant clams and fantastic tiny shells. You will as well come across Wobbegong shark and Epaulette shark, which you will only find just in the region of Raja Ampat.
Photographers as well as videographers will have the dives of their lifetime in Misool and its surrounding islands and islets: Wagmab, Faraondi, Fiabacet, Boo, Wayil, Pele, and still exploring... In the island of Batbitim is settled MISOOL ECO RESORT and its Conservation Center.
The beauty of the Misool Island Group will carry you away. This entire region is one enormous ancient limestone basin and even has limestone as the seafloor. Those who have traveled to Palau can picture these little tropical islands covered of palms, with steep sided walls where wind and sea have worn the rock away. The islands, or islets, are uncountable. The larger ones, like Misool itself, have canyons and lagoons speckled with white sandy beaches ideal for tender boat rides. One can spend hours exploring and never see the same bay. It really is a place of great beauty both above and below the water. It was rightly being considered by the Indonesian government for national park status and nominated by the United Nations as a world heritage site.
Dive Sites in Central Raja Ampat
Central do this dive site is a WWII vintage airplane wreck. Lying upside down in about 80 feet of water, a U.S. fighter plane is now host to a sizable agglomeration of soft corals and marine life. The surrounding reef is also quite nice, in most areas a lush reef comes to within a foot of the surface.
Kri Island: Underwater photographer's heaven
When conditions are right, the nearby dive sites are nothing short of excellent. On dive sites like Sardine Reef, Cape Kri, and the aptly named Koteka, you will enjoy some of the very finest wide-angle photo opportunities you've ever seen. Beautiful hard coral bommies were host to dazzling soft corals and rainbow-colored crinoids with a foreground of oriental sweet lips or coral trout, a swirl of glassfish and anthias, and a back ground of schooling surgeon fish, jacks and the occasional tuna. When the visibility is right, this can be an underwater photographer's heaven.
In Pulau Kri are settled KRI ECO RESORT & SORIDO BAY RESOT.
Enjoy one of the most exhilarating dives of your underwater career. Immersed in a swirling profusion of marine life, the sensation is that of experiencing the coral reef as it existed in the timeless ages prior to human contact. Framed by colorful soft corals and crinoid encrusted sea fans, large coral heads swarmed with thousands of glassy sweepers, anthias and smaller fry. Above circles of large schools of Jack, rainbow runners and fusiliers, with the occasional king-fish or big tuna zooming through this fish soup on a feeding run. The effect is electrifying, and something so unique as to certainly made the trip worthwhile. Mansuar is also the best place in Raja Ampat to see big mantas, often in group of dozen at a time.
The stop here in hopes of a topside glimpse of hornbills and the beautiful and exotic bird of paradise in a birding trek through the verdant jungle early at the sunrise.
Dives just offshore provided some of the best critter diving of the trip, offering up a Wobbegong sharks, excellent nudibranchs, periclimenes shrimp in carpet anemone, and fun photographing a variety of interesting and personable blennies.
One stop for muck diving at Batanta
The place to “get mucky” looking for critters, nudis and bizarre frogfishs in the black sands of Black Beauty and Happy Ending.
Dive with Mantas in Raja Ampat
Indonesia is a crossroads between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean with thousands of amazing dive sites, among these are three major areas known for their seasonal population of manta rays: Komodo, Bali and Raja Ampat. Particularly Raja Ampat has a number of cleanings stations and sites where you can regularly encounter manta rays and even the 6 meter spanwing oceanic mantas -manta birostris-. The manta season in Raja Ampat runs from October to May. There are 3 known dives site where is possible dive or snorkelling with this amazing animals Manta Mantra in Dampier Strait, Eagle Rock near Kawe Island and Magic Mountain in the south end of Misool. It is very import follow the guidelines for encounters with mantas, then divers and snorkelers can observe and photograph the mantas but without interfere in their regular cleaning ritual. Diving with mantas will be one of the greatest experiences you can have in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat Best Diving Season
This is the point: with its territory of 40,000 km2, the main advantage of Raja Ampat is it always has an interesting diveable place during all year around. Also for that reason is highly recommend join a liveaboard for diving Raja Ampat, an experienced liveabord operator knows how to do for get the best conditions during all your trip, doing your diving experience truly enjoyable. There is really no reason to dive day after day in bad visibility when you choose for a Raja Ampat round trip, if the visibility may be bad in the north for sure in the south should be good, and the same works from west to east. The region of Raja Ampat is large enough to assure good conditions for diving if you are sailing aboard of a mastered or seasoned liveaboard.
- Diving season: October to April. From May to September is windiest. But it is possible to dive Raja Ampat all year around.
- Rainy season: From November to December & from July to August.
- Water temperature: 27-30°C. A 3mm shorty should be sufficient. If you feel the cold easily a 5mm shorty is advisable.
- Visibility: Can be as low with averages about 5m with a maximum of 10-30m due the incredibly nutrient-rich water.
- Depths: 5 -> 40m.
- Currents: Can be strong.
- Surface conditions: Calm.
- Experience level: Intermediate – advanced.
- Dive sites: Unknown. At the present >200.
- Length of stay: Recommended 10-16 days on liveaboard cruise.
- Airport: Sorong. International flight to Jakarta or Manado and then domestic flight to Sorong.
- Weather: 27-32 degrees. Indonesia has two seasons: wet and dry. In most of Indonesia, dry season runs May-Sept and wet season Oct-April, in West Papua it does contrary: dry season runs Oct-April, and wet season May-Sept, but consider that being in the Equator -Raja Ampat is Laitude 0°-, the weather patron is punctually rain showers in afternoon with sunny and sunshine days.
- Time zone: West Papua GMT +9.
Wayag in the north, Misool in the south and, Penemu in central Raja Ampat have a labyrinthine of turquoise water channels with hundreds of small islets and limestone karsts to explore on epic dinghy rides or by slow kayaking in the shallow bays, especially in those of mangrove forests. The water look more like a river than a sea. There are large cave and tunnel structures very impressive, with huge limestone stalactites, of a very dramatic and stunningly beautiful! Another must is hiking into the forest to experience an encounter with bizarre birds like the Bird of Paradise or climbing Mount Pindito in Wayag where you probably will get the best shot of your life!
List of things to do for non divers in Raja Ampat
• Adventuring the karst area of Misool and the beautiful inner lagoons: Balbulol & Wayil lagoons. • Trekking up to see the heart shape lagoon of “Love Lagoon”. • Exploring Tomolol Bay cave with the ancestral rock painting. • Also Wagmab cave is worth to visit. • Paying a visit to Misool Eco Resort, previous request to the management. • Visiting Darat, the best beach in Misool, good also to set barbecue if Misool rules allow this. • Snorkeling is nice everywhere in Misool, guides could choose the spots according to customers skill. • Snorkelling with mantas around Dampier, is the perfect place - meanwhile the compulsory clearance-. • On the way back from Waisai to Sorong try to spot whales; always around this area, also Orcas have been seen. And for sure dolphins. • Visiting the waterfalls near Arefi Village, northern Batanta. • Hiking and waking up early (4.00AM) to see the Wilson Bird of Paradise some place in Dampier. • Watching the sunset migration of flying foxes in Mioskon. • Watching another sunset migration, this time of parrots in Kabui Bay. • Raid on the tender boats in “The Passage”. • Touring on the tender boats in the spectacular lagoon system of Gam. • BBQing, snorkeling and day beach in Wofoh. • Hiking up to the viewpoint of Penemu. • Island hopping on the hundreds of tiny islands in Raja Ampat • Trekking up “Mount Pindito” for a spectacular shot of Wayag. • Learning about natural pearls on the farm of Aljui Bay.
SCUBA DIVING DEALS
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Last Minutes to Dive Raja Ampat
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TO ADD TO YOUR DIVING EXPERIENCE
After or before diving in Raja Ampat add an amazing "ING" to your diving experience, try some of this awesome side trips!
Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cendrawasih Bay
Cenderawasih Bay is the latest whale sharks sanctuary discovered in Indonesia, where is possible find a huge aggregation of the gentle giants at any time of the year. In a pioneering expedition of Cruising Indonesia in Cendrawasih Bay we were able to see 12 magnificent specimens of whale sharks swimming all around our group of 6 lucky divers. Yes, TWELVE! That is precisely the title of our picture here on the left. You can count them... Whale Sharks 12 - Divers 6. Since then and now all the most reliable liveaboards of Indonesia include the Cendrawasih National Park in their diving trip itineraries!
Wreck Diving in Manokwari
As part of the Pacific theater of World War II, Manokwari was the stronghold of the Japanese army against the Allied Forces, the bay's beautiful deep-water provided safe anchorage to the Japanese in World War II. The many war ships and planes sunken in the sea are the silent witnesses of one the greatest failures of Mankind. Many of the Indonesian liveaboards have scheduled the wreck diving of Manokwari as an regular dive trip together with Cendrawasih Bay Whale Shark Sanctuary or as a single explorative dive trip.
Trekking in Baliem Valley
The Baliem Valley in the highlands of Irian Jaya, is inhabited by the Dani Tribes and other sub tribes as Yali and Lani. The many different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, they are small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. Papuan tribes are polygamist and conduct rituals for important occasions. The use of "Koteka" a penis gourd, is extended between them to distinguish their tribal identity. This is a journey through the time to encounter complex and primitive cultures, come out of "the stone age".
Indulging in an astonishing Bali Villas
Coming back from Raja Ampat, it is time for indulging yourself in one of the fabulous Bali Villas. Do not lose the opportunity to stay in one of the magnificent Villas of Bali, their rare, refined and stylish details will surprise you as well as our pricing list. And of course once in Bali, do not miss our favorite “Island of Gods Tour by Cruising Indonesia", a bliss experience. Instead if you are a dive addict we can organise a diving safari around the island!
Cicling Bali off the Beaten Track
A journey in the time through traditional villages and exuberant jungle, to contemplate world’s most beautiful contoured rice terraces in Jatiluwih, recently acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage site. You do not need worry about nothing, we pick up you at your hotel or villa and after a short drive toward the center of the island you will arrive in the beautiful village of Jatiluwih, there you will receive your bicycle and helmet and our guide will instruct you about the ride. A truly Bali experience!
Rafting Agung River
Watching some of the most spectacular views of Ayung River, Bali's most sacred and important waterway, discovering hidden waterfalls and swimming in pristine waters nestled in middle of the jungle, alongside Ayung River's banks... You will see the day life of the islands of gods passing quiet by the bank river. In the other hand the rapids of river will give you an exhilarating adventure full of adrenalin!
Discovering Yogyakarta and Java Volcanoes
Discovering Borobudur, Prambanan, Dieng Plateau, Mount Bromo and Ijen Volcano in our favorite 'Yogyakarta enigmatic missing civilization & volcanoes road' in a Tour of Java. Borobudur and Pramban are both UNESCO World Heritage Center and sanctuary of ancient cultures and religions Buddhist and Hindu, respectively. See spectacular landscape of volcanic plateau and caldera complex in Dieng, Bromo and Ijen. Trekking around and climbing their caldera rims. At sunrise or at sunset literally a volcanic experience!
Cruising Indonesia | The Liveaboard & Diving Specialists
We are committed to ensuring you a perfect diving holiday. You only choose your dream diving destination and we will arrange everything you need: all the details of your booking, the grounding services, your international & domestic flights, a special sojourn in a magnificent villa, an amazing tour...