RAJA AMPAT DIVE SITES
Raja Ampat Liveaboards
do not hire equipment but can arrange to hire through one of the
local dive companies. This is dependent on availability and is not
recommended it is not at an economical rate (450.000RUP per set per
day). Is it recommended that you bring your own equipment or
perhaps look into hiring from Bali.
Entrance / Diving
Entrance tags can
be purchased and picked up at the Sorong airport but will take some
hours to organise this way. It is better to pay the fee online to
the office in Bali using the bank details found at the bottom of the
then bring proof of wire transfer to the Sorong Airport to collect
the tag. The cost is 500.000 RP.
West Papua Indonesia
comprises the western half of the huge island of New Guinea situated
just northern tip of Australia and at the far eastern reaches of the
Nusa Tenggara. It is one of the planets final frontiers both above
and below the ocean. Most of the diving here is concentrated around
the recently discovered reefs of Raja Ampat archipelago. Raja Ampat
meaning Four Kings is named after the four sultans who once ruled
West Papua and is rapidly becoming one of Asia's diving hotspots.
The four islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool are in the
known as the "bird's head" peninsular and have earned almost
mythical status among divers.
According to the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Project
in 2002 the marine life diversity for scuba diving in
is considerably greater than all other areas sampled in the coral
triangle of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
and particularly the Raja Ampat Islands in the North West are
quickly becoming recognised as one of the most diverse and pristine
reef ecosystems in the world. With their very low human population
which still use only traditional fishing techniques, and their
inaccessibility, these islands have still maintained their pristine
natural state. Findings include 970 fish species - a world record
283 on one single dive at Cape Kri, the benchmark figure for an
excellent dive site of 200 fish species surpassed on 51% of Raja
Ampat dives (another world record), 456 coral species (a remarkable
96% of all scleratinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur
in these islands), 699 mollusca species - again another world high.
One of the great things about this area
is the variety of reefs and their topography. There are vertical
walls, reef flats, slopes, ridges, sea mounds, mucky mangroves,
lagoons and pinnacles all of which are affected by a varying degree
of current from none to very strong. The visibility is normally very
good in the Raja Ampat islands, ranging from 20 to 40 meters varying
in the different areas. The north generally has excellent visibility
as the water is deep and the islands are small with very little run
Ampat archipelago (Waigeo island, Batanta island, Salawati island
and Misool island) is a world diving hotspot !
Located off the northwest tip of Bird's Head Peninsula on the island
of New Guinea, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago
comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals surrounding the
four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. It
encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also
contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in
Indonesia. It is a part of the newly named West Papua province of
Indonesia which was formerly Irian Jaya.
According to the Conservation International Rapid Assessment
Bulletin the marine life diversity is considerably greater than all
other areas sampled in the Coral Triangle of Indonesia, Philippines
and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world's
coral reef biodiversity, the seas around Raja Ampat are possibly the
richest in the world. The area's massive coral colonies show that
its reefs are resistant to threats like coral bleaching and disease
- threats that now jeopardise the survival of corals around the
world. In addition, Raja Ampat's strong ocean currents sweep coral
larvae across the Indian and Pacific Oceans to replenish other reef
ecosystems. Raja Ampat's coral diversity, resilience, and ability to
replenish reefs make it a global priority for marine protection.
Over 1,070 fish species, 537 coral species (a remarkable 96% of all
scleratinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur in these
islands), and 699 mollusc species, the variety of marine life is
staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular
sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs.
AMPAT ISLANDS DIVE
This is one of the larger islands in the archipelago. The
stunning reefs around Misool offer a breathtaking kaleidoscope of
colour which offers a nice contrast to all the big stuff on other
dive sites. Sloping walls are carpeted with soft corals of every
colour imaginable housing all manner of critters from ghost pipefish
to harlequin shrimp to pygmy seahorses.'
This reef is one of the more popular dive sites of Raja Ampat
and its no surprise why. Marine Biologist and respected author of a
number of marine reference books Dr. Gerald R. Allen said "On my
last trip to Raja Ampat, I recorded 283 fish species during a single
dive near the Kri Island resorts. This is the most fishes ever seen
on a single dive over a career spanning almost 30 years."
Divers here can look forward to being literally engulfed by fish,
huge swirling schools of dogtooth tuna, jacks, giant trevally and
chevron barracuda. In addition to these expect to see large napoleon
wrasse, car sized Queensland groupers and reef sharks as you drift
along with the fish. Coral growth here is also diverse with all
manner of hard and soft varieties. It is best to stay deep here to
avoid the stong surface currents.
Sardine reef is a large off shore reef that slopes down to
around 25 meters. There are no actual sardines here but the fish are
so tightly packed that it derives the name of the dive site. Great
schools of fish block out the light, jacks, tuna, trevally, they're
all here in huge numbers. There are also Australian Wobbegongs to be
found here hiding under ledges and table corals. This dive really is
a fish frenzy, you even need to stay close to your buddy if you want
to keep them in sight for the living walls of fish.
Named after a cross marking the landing spot of the first
Christian missionaries to Irian Jaya this wreck is upright on the
sandy bed at 18 meters. The Japanese patrol boat is the most
accessible of all Raja Ampat wrecks, depth charges and the ships
lamps can still be seen. Penetration is possible to the
communications room, engine room and front hold where features such
as the switchboard and ammunition can be seen. Coral cover is good
and plenty of reef inhabitants now call the wreck thier home, these
include lionfish, huge napoleon wrasse, humphead parrotfish and all
manner of critters that come our especially at night.
At the end of the Cross Wreck is this delightful little area
back towards the beach. In amongst the sand and rubble are a vast
array of critters including frogfish, leaffish, devil scorpionfish,
seahorses and mantis shrimp.
This WWII cargo ship wreck is one of the more impressive, she
lies on her port side from 16 to 34 meters. Two huge bomb damage
holes on the starboard side are visible and all manner of debris
including mine sweeping equipment, technical equipment, car
batteries, cables ammunition and sake bottles is strewn around. Two
diving helmets make a great photo opportunity. This wreck is not as
densely covered in corals as the Cross Wreck, but is home to many
schooling jacks and plenty of pipefish. The wooden floors of the
bridge have collapsed and most of its contents are still there.
There is a wrecked P40 that was shot down and now lies at 27
meters, the plane which is still largely intact was discovered in
The passage lies between the islands of Gam and Waigeo. It is
only about 25 meters wide and looks more like a river from the
surface. A jumble of rocks marks the entrance to this enchanting
looking dive site, the coral almost grows to the surface here. There
is not much choice but to drop in and drift down the channel,
pausing in bays where the current is more forgiving. Plenty of life
can be found here including octopus, flatworms and cuttlefish, even
the Wobbegong shark can be spotted on occasion. Schools of bigger
fish await out in the current such as jacks, tuna, barracuda and
sharks. Caves and arches also make up some of the topography here.
Close by is this recently discovered sheltered dive site where
the small island and bays wield a number of flamboyant nudibranchs.
This rocky outcrop just off Cape Kri was bombed duing WWII. From
the air it was mistaken for a Japanese ship due to its size and the
wake left by speeding currents. Walls surrounding the islet drop to
over 40 meters and attract huge schools of sweetlips, snappers and
fusiliers. A dazling array of giant sea fans on a shelf at 27 meters
can be explored for pygmy seahorses and the walls and coral crevaces
home all manner of reef life. Mike's point is named after pioneer
Max Ammer's son.
This spot is famed for its visiting manta rays and a couple of
WWII aircraft wrecks. However it is also popular for night diving in
the secluded bay. All manner of creatures emerge to feed including
octopus, stonefish, epaulette sharks, wobbegongs, squid, pipefish
and many rare nudibranchs.
There is hundreds unknown dive sites
and plenty of them to explore adn to discover.