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The Bird Head Seascape, Raja Ampat Diving…

The territory within the islands of the Four Kings is enormous, covering 9.8 million acres of land and sea, home to 540 types of corals, more than 1,000 different types of reef fish and 700 species of mollusk…  This makes it the most diverse living library for the planets coral reef and underwater biota…  According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world's species reside here… When divers first arrive here their excitement is palpable…  It's common to hear people praise God as they take in the remarkable scenery…  Others prefer to remain in silence taking in the overwhelming sight of so many islands with crystal clear water that softly brushes over the white sandy beaches…

The four main islands of Misool, Batanta, Waigeo and Salawati, are in turn surrounded by approximately 1,500 wild islands with pristine beaches and sheer limestone cliffs plunging into aqua blue seas, many only reachable by the best budget liveaboard in Raja Ampat…

While the landscape may look like a dream, this is not an illusion…  As you embark on your dive, the phrase "attention to detail" takes on new meaning, as Pygmy Seahorses swim around your fingers…  Manta Rays and Wobbegong Sharks will glide right by you…  Tuna, Giant Trevally, Snapper, and flocks of Barracuda are abundant and complete your meeting list...

Not to mention, the friendly assistant of the Dugong, and a busy colleague, with six of the earth’s seven species of Sea Turtle…  Natural and untouched beauty is the main attraction here... With no unnecessary adages, the sky, the lush islands, the sea, and everything above and under it is genuinely saying "Welcome to the Raja Ampat Islands, your personal Disneyland of diving sites, the best of liveaboard diving indonesia"…

In 2006, 50 new species were discovered on a researcher’s trip to the Bird’s Head Peninsula region, and every year fascinating and previously unrecorded creatures are discovered here…


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Indonesia Liveaboard DIVing TRIP HIGHLIGHTS…

Above water, the islands cultural heritage is diverse, with prehistoric cave paintings and relics from the era of the Four Kings who once ruled here, while more recent history is demonstrated in cave bunkers and seabed wreckage from World War II…  Intrepid visitors can trek through the jungle, learn about traditional kampung life in local villages, visit sea turtle rookeries and pearl farms and explore the coastal mangroves by sea kayak...  Resounding with bird calls, the Raja Ampat archipelago houses the largest number of freshwater bird species in the region, Parrots, Hornbills, Lorikeets, Marbled Frogmouths and the famous Bird of Paradise to name a few…

Raja Ampat remains one of the last untouched corners of the earth, and makes for a magical trip for anyone looking to get away from the daily grind and relax in a naturally beautiful environment…

Raja Ampat is best visited by liveaboard dive boats between September and June…

 
 

the dive sites of raja ampat…


Cape Kri…  

The famed site that put Raja Ampat on the diving world’s map, when Dr Gerry Allen smashed his record for total number of fish species on a single tank dive, 374 different species…  At the Northeast point of Kri island the currents sweep into a channel between Kri and the small island of Koh, at this point beneath waters churning in the current, huge schools of barracuda, snapper and big eye trevally can be seen over the drop off...  At the base of the reef, 38 meters down, an ancient snagged anchor rests next to a bommie with a dense school of banded sweetlips… A large shallow coral garden crowns the reef top, with blacktip reef sharks patrolling amongst the overlapping maze of hard corals and feeding hawksbill turtles…  This phenomenal and ever surprising dive site has it all, from giant queensland groupers down to the diminutive ever present pygmy seahorse… Dawn and dusk are feeding time where divers can experience this site at its awe inspiring best...


Sardine Reef

Quite simply, one of the best reef dives in the world, where divers may witness Raja Ampat’s phenomenal diversity…  Where the current strikes this offshore reef, it splits, a dazzling array of fish congregate, audibly swarming fusiliers spin above, pursued by huge giant trevallies, packs of bluefin jacks and huge Spanish mackerel…  Batfish swarm in their hundreds, while multitudes of schooling bannerfish feed in the turmoil… Grey, black and whitetip reef sharks can also be seen patrolling, whilst the wobbegong waits in ambush, on the sea floor… Coral bommies dot the slope covered with many colourful species of dendronephya, three separate species of pygmy seahorse can be found in amongst them...  On the current swept reef top, a resident school of thirty massive bumphead parrotfish crunch on the coral, keeping divers company, who hang on safety stop, from their reef hooks, like kites in the wind… Photographers love to dive this twice, having to return, to change from wide angle to macro…


Blue Magic

This small pinnacle has just about everything…  From wobbegong sharks to tiny hippocampus denise pygmy seahorse…  The reef top is covered in hard coral with some big heads and tabletop acropora corals well, over 3 metres in size…  There is a resident school of big eye trevally and large barracuda... Green sea turtles can be found here as well as black tip, white tip and the occasional grey reef shark...  If you are very lucky even a giant manta ray… This magnificent dive ends with a blue water safety stop drifting over and away from the reef…


Manta Sandy…  

This sandy slope is famous for it’s manta ray cleaning station...  If the thousand pristine reefs are not quite enough, this area also boasts some of the best manta diving in the world…  Nowhere else can offer such diversity along with a year round possibility of manta sightings...

Up to 10 mantas can be seen in the sands, vying for a position above the two huge rocks, where the wrasse clean these giants…  We get enormous 4 meter wide black mantas, looking like a negative photographic image, their gills are highlighted in white, along with the other more common white bellied variety…  On the slope, mantas circle above in the sun while divers hook onto the reef, while the current arcs overhead and down the steep slope below... Divers can be caught unaware while giant demonic looking black mantas cruise in behind them…


The Passage

The narrow canyon between Gam and Waigeo best described as a ocean river flowing between two Islands, an incredible marine environment, a haven of peculiar and unique microhabitats…  This is a place where experienced divers and photographers enjoy the utterly different underwater experience of diving, in this truly one of a kind location… Above water, sheer limestone cliffs and vivid virgin jungle, also excessively beautiful…


Arborek Pier...

A stunning site for a sunset dive with superb atmosphere as the light changes…  The pier supports, have thousands of vivid soft corals and sponges, various nudibranchs such as “blue dragons” can be found crawling about...  Tiny baitfish form huge schools that swarm about underneath the pier and schools of batfish may also be seen...


Mike’s Point…

As we approach the tiny island known as Mike’s Point, eagles can be seen resting in the tree tops...  Underwater, the site offers varied topography with one side full of overhangs and crevices, whilst the other has steps dropping down to the deep, and a field of whip corals adorning the slope…  With the right current this site is superb and the island can be circumnavigated in one dive seeing sweetlips, batfish, jacks, spanish mackerel, grey reef and wobbegong sharks…


Sel Pele…  

A very large bay located on the western side of Waigeo Island, renowned as the best place in Raja Ampat for critter hunting…  The bay has a large mouth with a small islet in its centre, and an inner bay with pearl farms that can be visited on request… The star of the show here, perhaps the variety of cephalopods that you can find, everything from the gorgeous but lethal blue ringed octopus, baby red octopus and flamboyant cuttlefish...  The bottom dwelling berry bobtail squid can also be found in sandy areas, so watch out for this unmistakable 5cm long, iridescent blue and green, extremely rare creature...

Check out the fire urchins too for zebra crabs, the sea cucumbers for pearlfish, and the sandy rubble for peacock mantis shrimp, flying gurnards, gobies and blennies…  The variety of colourful nudibranchs that you can find here is second to none from the tiger nudi, tambja affinis, to lock’s nudis... Then there’s West Papua’s usual pygmy seahorses and full range of ghost pipefish, robust, harlequin, halimeda, and even the shortpouch pygmy pipehorse…


Kebung Kerang…

At the south side of the small island in the bay’s mouth, where the steep bank drops down to 30 metres then down into the bay’s main channel at 40…  Here the coral coverage is good with lots of gigantic mushroom leather corals, purple soft corals, sea squirts and large gorgonians, interspersed with submerged forest logs…

 The fish life is correspondingly more prevalent too if less cryptic, with schools of fusiliers, pale tailed surgeonfish, goatfish and large 6 banded angelfish...  Nudibranchs are also in evidence here with the endemic orange, white and warty phyllidia babai and the solar power nudi, phyllidesmium longicirrum, the unusual photosynthesising nudi from New Guinea and Australia…


Jef Fam…

A picturesque group of a dozen or so limestone islands and islets, lying directly west of Batanta Island. There are many channels with shallow, aquamarine inlets, bays, lagoons, beaches, cliffs and coves…  They are a perfect setting from which to explore Raja Ampat’s premiere hard coral dive sites…

The 3 small islets lying in a triangle that make up Batu Burung, aka Melissa’s Garden, are the best spots in the area for regular sightings of the weird and wonderful tasselled wobbegong, as well as one huge great barracuda and occasional manta rays...

The tasselled wobbegong is rarely seen outside New Guinea and Australia, so it’s worth diving here to see this member of the shark family alone…  With its 2 metre flattened body and very broad head with skin flaps along its lips, it’s difficult to imagine misidentifying this creature… Look out for them curled up inside large cabbage corals or under ledges...

This site is fantastic for angelfish as all the Raja Ampat species seem to be here in their glorious colours and forms... Bicolour angelfish (yellow and blue halves), keyhole (navy with a white keyhole), lamarck’s (black and white stripes), 3-spot (bright yellow with blue lips) and 6 banded are all easily spotted…  Purple and threadfin anthias add to the spectrum of colour as you make your way up the slope...

One of the most interesting features here are the giant tridachna clams at 6 metres depth, some over a metre long, with intricate brown, green and purple patterns, quite a 100 year old rarity…


Nudi Rock…

A small island in the Fiabacet chain, which looks an awful lot like a nudibranch from a distance…  This site is a must for critter enthusiasts and macro photographers… True to its name, you will find a wide range of flamboyant nudibranchs lurking among the abundant soft corals…  The sea fans are well populated with pygmy seahorses and cowries… Be sure to inspect the abundant crinoids for their colour coordinated arrowhead shrimp and cling fish... When currents allow, this site is also popular for its pinnacles crowded with larger pelagic barracuda, big eyed travelly, and the odd mature grey reef shark...  The sloping shallows of Nudi Rock are stunning for wide angle shots with exquisite colours and hard coral gardens…


Magic Mountain…

This sea mount is a busy manta ray cleaning station…  The submerged pinnacle reaches up to about 7 meters, and you have a very good chance of seeing not one but two species of manta rays here, both the giant oceanic birostris as well as the smaller reef manta, alfredi…  Magic Mountain is also a nursery for white tip reef sharks and a love nest for the napoleon wrasse… Because this site is completely exposed to oceanic currents, you can expect to see large schools of pelagic monsters in the blue…


Yillet…

The huge island of Yillet stretches east to west , and used to be home to an itinerant shark finning camp… We are pleased by the stunning resurgence of life on its surrounding reefs, including sharks...  One of Yillet’s tiny satellite islands is particularly rich and topographically weird… The tiny island has been undercut by an untold millenia of wave action, forming an umbrella over a sloping underwater plateau with numerous spooky overhangs and cavelets…  Diving with a torch is highly recommended for this site, you will want to illuminate the dark corners of this site to see all the critters, as well as the wild colours... Barramundi cod and hawksbill turtles frequent this site, we also suggest you keep a sharp eye on the blue, as huge schools of barracuda hover in formation...

Boo Windows…

One of Raja Ampat’s most famous dive sites, named for its unique topography…  With 2 swim through ‘windows’ carved into it… The south west face of this site is quite steep and exposed to current, so you are likely to see patrolling sharks as well as the elusive wobbegong, be sure to look under the massive table corals...  When the currents are right, we will move off towards a large pinnacle in the blue… The pinnacle is often surrounded by pulsating schools of fusiliers and gangs of plate sized batfish... Heading back towards the windows, notice how the sunlight filters through, it’s like nothing else on earth…  Follow the plateau of hard plate corals and look for sweetlips hiding underneath, and be sure to investigate the huge barrel sponges, their crevices often conceal hairy squat lobsters and more...

 

Please click on an image below, to see a detailed itinerary of our Raja Ampat Liveaboard adventures…

 
 
Sandra Wright - South Africa…

Sandra Wright - South Africa…