WHERE ARE WE GOING?

Today we are diving in Raja Ampat, Pulau Waigeo, Indonesia

WHY ARE WE DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT?

Raja Ampat is the center of the Coral Triangle with some of the healthiest reefs in the world. The Raja Ampat archipelago encompasses 40,000 km² of land and sea and including a series of more than 1,500 islands that surround the main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo.

It is the intersection of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean which means powerful currents. This allows the area to boast some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world. Raja Ampat has a dive site that holds the record for the most species recorded on one dive (Cape Kri). This is why diving in Raja Ampat is on most divers’ bucket lists!

HOW TO GET TO RAJA AMPAT?

diving in raja ampat - oriental sweetlips
Oriental sweetlips. Photo courtesy of Denise.

You will need to fly into Sorong, which is the largest city of the Indonesian province of West Papua.

After the flight, you will need to drive about 5-10 minutes to the Sorong Ferry Terminal to get a ferry to Waigeo Island. The city of Waisai on Waigeo is usually the transit point for visiting the rest of the archipelago.

It is easier to pre-arrange a pick-up. If you book onto a Liveaboard or resort in the area, they should sort this transfer for you.

Ferries depart daily at 9 am and 2 pm. Tickets can only be bought at the terminal itself. VIP Tickets are 215,000IDR/Person

WHICH DIVE SITES ARE MUST-SEE?

Cape Kri (Advanced)

Corner of the west side of an island where the current splits. It is a fringing reef with the flat starting at about 3m and slopes down to 30m.

Lao-Lao, Sardine Reef, Chicken Reef, Blue Magic (Advanced)

These dive sites are all underwater plateaus with the top between 8-10m of depth depending on the tide.

Depending on rising/falling tide, the currents differ and the way these sites are dived will differ. The plateaus drop to approximately 25-30m and attract an abundance of pelagic life – Adult napoleons, bumphead parrotfishes, schooling pickhandle barracudas, reef sharks, and wobbegongs.

wobbegong shark laying on coral in Raja Ampat
A wobbegong shark. Photo courtesy of Denise.

Citrus Reef, Mayhem (Beginner to Advanced)

Around the mangrove area of Waigeo is a fringing reef. Top of the Reef starts around 1-2m and slopes down to 20m. 

Loads of schooling fishes.  

Yen Buba (Beginner)

Easy dive that is hidden from the currents. The reef starts around 2-3 meters and drops to 25m. Rays, shrimps, and a large variety of nudibranchs can be found here. 

Friwen Wall (Beginner)

A short wall starting at 1-2m and drops to 25m. The sandy bottom is home to many shrimps and would be macro heaven for those who enjoy the little things. The wall is covered in really healthy and beautiful coral. 

Blue sea around Raja Ampat, with an abundance of marine life.
Blue sea around Raja Ampat, with an abundance of marine life. Photo courtesy of Denise.

TELL ME MORE

When diving with a resort such as the Waiwo Resort, based on the island of Waigeo, the dives will be via speedboats with sites ranging from 35-60mins away. 

Coffee, tea, and biscuits are provided on the boats with an option of picnic lunch on the beach between the 2nd and 3rd dive of the day. Lunch can also be taken at the resort.

Alternatively, a great way to explore the diving in Raja Ampat is also on a liveaboard that allows you to reach further dive sites.

DO I NEED ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT?

Temperature ranges between 26-30 degrees Celcius and a 3mm wetsuit is sufficient. Some people can go diving with just shorts and a rash vest. Just be wary that there is an abundance of hydroids and fire coral so wearing a rashguard is a good idea.

Having a reef hook on standby is recommended if you are comfortable in strong currents. 

It is best to bring your own dive equipment. Rental for a full set of equipment can set you back by about 20-50 USD/Day.

WHAT LEVEL CERTIFICATION SHOULD I BE?

When diving in Raja Ampat, we recommend divers to be Advanced Open Water level with at least 20 dives. 

There are easy dive sites but many dive sites in the area are subjected to strong currents. Fighting into the currents to get to the split point also allows divers to see more pelagic life.

Being able to reach 30m also gives the divers a larger portion of the reef to hide and maneuver around currents. 

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS?

Temperature is generally 26-30°C so depending on your comfort level this can be warm, or slightly cold.

The best diving is from September till April. Then the rainy season starts and most dive centers will cease operations.

Currents are usually strong. 

Visibility will depend on the tide and rain but would range between 15-30m.

Diving in Raja Ampat. Bright, colorful corals everywhere
Amazing colours in Raja Ampat. Photo courtesy of Denise.

HOW MUCH WILL I SPEND?

1 Dive is between 50-80USD depending on how many dives are done.

A general dive package, 5D4N, 3 days of diving, all meals and accommodation would be 855 USD/Person. This does not include equipment rental.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION IS AVAILABLE?

In Waigeo there are beachside bungalows. 

There are other dive resorts around the area and some do have budget hostel accommodation. There are also homestay options. 

If you are on a liveaboard, the accommodation will be your boat!

WHERE DID YOU STAY?

I stayed in a Jungle Bungalow at Waiwo Resort. Rooms are about $100USD/Night.

It is quiet and in a location where both the sunsets and sunrises can be seen. 

DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

The diving is phenomenal and has some of the healthiest reefs I’ve seen. The marine life is healthy with the presence of grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, wobbegongs, oceanic mantas, reef mantas… and for those who like the macro, bargibanti pygmy seahorses, pontohi pygmy seahorses, skeleton shrimps, variety of nudibranchs, whip coral shrimps, etc etc.

WHAT DO WE DO ON SURFACE INTERVALS?

The island of Waigeo is a quiet location. There is not much nightlife. Hopefully, you will be exhausted and relaxed after some amazing diving in Raja Ampat. 

There are some bird watching tours in the area and snorkeling is available. 

Denise has been instructing since 2015 and brings with her experience from diving & working in waters of Thailand, Maldives, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. She’s both a PADI & SSI instructor who’s worked on liveaboards, day trips and volunteers with organisations such as Marine Conservation Cambodia and Operation Wallecea. Denise focuses on the safety of her divers and the preservation of the environment.

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