Diving Raja Ampat

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Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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Country: Indonesia  Area: Indonesia

Water Temp: 28 - 30°C (82 - 86°F)

Visibility: 15 - 30m (49 - 98 ft)

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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.

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Raja Ampat is an archipelago of 1,500 islands, cays and shoals located off the northwest tip of New Guinea. The area contains Cenderwasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia. 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.

The remoteness of this archipelago makes these islands an absolute gem for those able to reach it. While conditions are basic, the natural environment that surrounds you is beyond spectacular.

School of Fish,Credit

It is possible to experience a myriad of dive sites, where you could encounter almost everything underwater - a staggering variety of habitats and experiences. This is not just another diving destination; it is the Holy Grail for scientists, topside and underwater photographers, novice and advanced divers alike - proven to be the richest reefs on the planet.
Rich and colourful coral 'bommies' dripping with soft corals, unblemished reefs teeming with life, pristine blue water mangrove ecosystems, glass calm waters, dolphins and whales, adrenalin-filled drift dives, walls and slopes, giant Manta rays, Wobbegong sharks and walking sharks, critters, Pygmy seahorses as big as a grain of rice. 
Raja Ampat has it all! All too often, the 'uncommon' is commonly abundant on these extremely rich reefs.

Nudibranch, Credit

Marine Conservation

Raja Ampat has a growing global importance in the field of marine research and conservation. While until recently, this archipelago was fairly undeveloped, recent discoveries have prompted greater commercial exploration and development. In response, a number of stakeholders have become involved in intensive conservation initiatives.

Much of the support is drawn from the non-governmental organization community, with large organizations such as Conservation International  and the Nature Conservancy  playing significant roles. Along with the Indonesian government’s Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program, this community is creating and managing seven Marine Protected Areas. Within these MPAs, other organizations work to conserve endangered and threatened species, namely sea turtles.  The region is also the current subject of extensive scientific research.

Every visitor to Raja Ampat is required to have the waterproof Raja Ampat Marine Tag, whether diver or non-diver. This marine park entrance fee is arranged on arrival at the resort and is valid for one calendar year, commencing each January. With this money, conservation projects are developed and founded, including health care for the remote villages. In whole Raja Ampat there are seven Marine Protected Areas which encompass over 11’000 km2.

Too Beautiful, Credit

Climate

Raja Ampat has a tropical climate. Rains occur largely between May and September, and June and July are typically the wettest months. Mid-June to mid-September are among the windiest months; however, like the rainy periods, this is never consistent and should not deter a visit.

October to April are ideal times for cruising, given the calm ocean conditions and pleasant temperatures. Mid-October to mid-December are the most ideal.

The ocean temperatures have a surface temperature of approximately 29°C year round, while land temperatures hover around 31°C during the day.

Other Year Round Marine Life

Wobbegong Shark, Bamboo Shark, Pygmy Seahorses, Nudibranches, Barracudas, Cownose Ray, Big schools of fish,
Very rich coral gardens, Schools of Bumphead Parrotfish, Octopus & Bluering Octopus.

 
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Shore Diving

The house reef of Pulau Pef offers good diving and snorkelling opportunities, with a great variety of fish and critters. Night dives are convenient, colourful and productive, with the endemic Raja Ampat Walking Shark often sighted.  At times a school of Batfish reside under the pier making for good photographic opportunities, and often baby Blacktip Sharks can be seen playfully hunting small fish in the shallows under the restaurant. A snorkel along the house reef reveals colourful coral gardens and whatever you are lucky to encounter:  Clownfish in anemones, schools of Bumphead Parrotfishes, every shape and size of reef fish, octopus, cuttle fish, resting Wobbegong Sharks, nudibranchs , Mandarin Fishes - the possibilities are endless.

Manta & friends,Credit

Boat Diving

There is a great variety of dive sites in Raja Ampat and the immediate area surrounding Pulau Pef. Diving in this area of Indonesia, you will find all your heart desires, from sites dripping with lush soft corals, to spectacular hard coral gardens, slopes, critter sites and mantas. And of course there is really close by one of Raja Ampat's most celebrated dive sites 'The Passage' - a winding river-like gap between Gam and Waigeo.

Anemone shrimp, Credit

In the general area surrounding Pulau Pef, it is possible to experience a myriad of dive sites and snorkelling locations, with a fascinating variety of habitats and experiences. During a typical week, it is possible to see varieties of schooling fish, Pygmy Seahorses, nudibranchs and small critters, Wobbegong Sharks, endemic Raja Ampat Walking Sharks (Bamboo Shark), Bumphead Parrotfishes, turtles, Giant Trevally, Barracuda, Manta Rays and just about every reef fish and critter in the book, set against a back-drop of the healthiest hard and soft corals that scientists have named ‘the Earth’s richest seascape’.

Sweetlips! Credit

Liveabord Diving

Liveaboards are one of the more popular ways to experience Raja Ampat. Most tours leave from the town of Sorong and sail through the ‘Coral Triangle’ – the 2,500 islands in the Raja Ampat region.

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Getting There

this time no international flights arrive to or depart from Sorong, and all connections must be made from within Indonesia, typically requiring an over-night flight from Jakarta. There are various airlines that fly to Jakarta and from there over Makassar or directly to Sorong.

From Sorong, you will be transferred by boat to your chosen island. This trip is generally organized by the dive resort, though it can be done independently.

Barrel sponge, Credit

Liveaboards are of course the other option for reaching and exploring the archipelago.

V.O.A: Visa on Arrival is available for nationals of 63 countries, please CHECK your country, the cost is USD 25 cash or IDR cash equivalent. Valid departure ticket from Indonesia within 30 days of arrival. Immigration officials are entitled to ask for this.

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Where to Eat & Drink

When visiting Raja Ampat, guests have the option to stay either on a liveaboard, at a dive resort or on a homestay. As such, most of the restaurants are based out of the resorts or by the diving operator. If you have opted for a homestay, your local family will cook all of your meals. The Sup Ikan Kuning (Yellow Fish Soup) is a local speciality certainly worth trying.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Credit

Nightlife in Raja Ampat is fairly limited, with any activites again occurring out of the resorts or the liveaboards.

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Other Activities

There are more possibilities to explore Raja Ampat, also above water:

Diving at Raja Ampat, Credit

- take a stroll on the jungle trail that leads to a beautiful private beach with an aquamarine swimming lagoon,
- climb the rocky outcrop ‘house’ mountain to see spectacular 360° views of Pulau Pef,
- walk down the jetty on the side opposite to the main beach, for peace and quiet in a pristine mangrove bay,
- kayak around pulau pef’s inlets and bays, islands, lagoons and hidden lake,
- see the ancient rock paintings on the limestone cliffs,
- walk through the jungle, for incredible imaging opportunities,
- find the best spots to sit quietly to observe the particularly magnificent bird life on the island.

Or simply relax in the hammock or sun lounger on your private deck, enjoying the breeze and beautiful views.

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Tips

If staying on one of the islands, be prepared for a remote and rustic experience. Electricity is sporadic, running water is not guaranteed, and external communication can be difficult. There are no luxury resorts in the region.

Fan Coral,Credit

The nearest hyperbaric chambers are located in Manado (Sulawesi), Singapore and Darwin (Australia). All of these chambers are difficult to access from Raja Ampat, and health insurance is strongly recommended. 

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Rating 8/10

Indonesia

Raja Ampat25 Oct 2013 - 20 Nov 2013

raja ampat , komodo, gili islands and bali

jon

Joss Leonard

Short and sweet.. was it good? ;)

Supriya Sarin

A month long , with a week at each place.. it was great .. Misool at Raja Ampat being the best of all. All in all a super trip :)

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