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Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is a group of islands in West Papua (former Irian Jaya) and counts 610, mostly desert islands. The four biggest islands are Waigeo in the north, Salawati (southwest of Sorong, the second largest city in West-Papua), Batanta (north of Salawati) and Misool in the southwest. The name Raja Ampat is is based on these 4 islands and means literally ‘the 4 kings’.

Raja Ampat is still a quite unknown area in Indonesia, but among divers on the contrary, it’s a famous destination. This because it offers an incredible lot of different fish species and fantastic coral reefs, varying from hard to soft coral. The islands themselves are very impressive too. The Raja Ampat islands have silent lagoons with crystal white sand and water that varies in colours from bright green to bright blue.

From mid-Juli till mid-September it’s rainy season in Raja Ampat, the sea may, locally, be less pleasant to travel long distances by boat. This doesn’t have to be a problem for divers, since dozens of dive spots are within 15 minutes by boat.

The islands of Raja Ampat are therefore mostly known among divers. Some beautiful dive sites are:

Teluk Kabui
Between Waigeo and the smaller island Pulau Gam are many little jungle islands of limestone. The Nudibranch Rock is certainly one of the highlights of this site, because on this rock lives an extremely important population of brightcoloured … slugs.
Pulau Wai
The coralreefs around this small island on the north coast of Batanta houses rare fish species, like the recently discovered Raja epaulette shark, wobbegong shark, crocodile fish and big mantas. There’s also an old American fighter aircraft wreck dating from the Second World War.
Manta Point
This location between the Gam and Mansuar islands is a real rays’ paradise. In this area swim more than 15 different ray species of which some with a wingspan of 5 metres! Exceptional is that this location is a kind of washing station for the rays. The rays lie down on the coral and are then ‘cleaned’ by small lipfish. Best period: mid-October untill mid-April. From May to September there is little chance to spot mantas here.

Video Raja Ampat snorkel cruise

Dive spots north Raja Ampat

Diving and snorkelling at Raja Ampat

These days you can dive and snorkel at will in the most beautiful area of Indonesia.
Between November and March a diving- or a snorkelling trip at Manta Sandy is a must! But don’t forget to admire the seahorses, wobbegong sharks, barracudas and other wonderful fish above the marvellous healthy coral as well.
Besides diving and snorkelling you can book excursions to the birds of paradise or a traditional village on the spot. Or just chill out on the beach…

Cape Kri

One of the favorite dives, Cape Kri is Sordio Bay’s house reef and less than 3 minute by boat from Kri Eco Resort. This is the dive site that put Raja Ampat on the map when Dr Gerry Allen smashed his record for total number of fish species on a single tank dive: 374 different species!

The world-record holding Cape Kri, with a record count of 374 different species in one dive counted by Dr. G. Allen, is just a 1 minute boat ride from our jetty. 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 Big-eye trevallies, Barracudas and Snappers can be seen hanging over the drop-off. At the base of the reef at 38 meters 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 with feeding hawksbill turtles. Car-sized Queensland groupers down to the diminutive ever-present pygmy seahorse can be seen on this phenomenal and always-surprising dive site! Dawn and dusk are feeding time so divers can experience this site at its awe-inspiring best.

Blue magic

Only 15 minutes from Kri Island, this small pinnacle has almost everything



From Wobbegong sharks to tiny 2cm Denise Pygmy seahorses. The reef top is covered in hard coral with some big coral heads and some tabling Acropora corals well over 3 metres across. There is a resident school of Big eye Trevallies and many large Barracuda. Green Turtles can be found here as well as Black Tips, White Tips and the occasional Grey Reef Sharks. If you are very lucky even a Giant Manta Ray. The magnificent dive ends with a blue water safety stop drifting over and away from the reef.

Sardines

Only 10 mins from Kri Island, this submerged reef with a reef top at 5 metres, contains a very high biomass, one of the highest in Raja Ampat.



Sardines reef is quite simply one of the best reef dives in the world, where divers witness the phenomenal diversity of Raja Ampat at full force. Where the current strikes this offshore reef and splits, a dazzling array of fish congregate, audibly swarming fusiliers spin above, pursued by huge giant trevallies, packs of Bluefin jacks and huge Spanish mackerels. Batfish gather in the hundreds, while multitudes of schooling bannerfish feed in the current. Grey reef sharks, blacktips and whitetips can also be seen along with the wobbegong waiting in ambush on the sea floor. Coral bommies dot the slope covered with many colourful species of dendronephya soft corals and up to three separate species of Pygmy seahorses can be found amongst them. On the current-swept reef top a resident school of thirty massive bumphead parrotfish crunch on the coral, keeping the divers company on a safety stop who hang from their reef-hooks like kites in the wind. Upon surfacing, many divers comment that this is the best dive they have ever done!! Photographers love this dive site and have to return to change from wide angle to macro!

Manta Sandy

Only 25 mins from Kri Island, this sandy slope is famous for its Manta Rays. It is a cleaning station where they come in to get cleaned.

If the many reefs are not enough this area also boasts some of the best manta diving in the world! There are two main manta sites just half an hour away. One, Manta Sandy, is a cleaning station where up to 10 mantas can be seen vying for a position above the two rocks where wrasses 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. Another site nearby, Manta 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 by behind them. This trip is out of our 10km range, but is offered once a week without any fuel surcharges!

The Passage

As seen in many articles, including recently by David Doubilet in the Sept 2007 National Geographic, the passage is a completely unique dive site. The narrow canyon 40 minutes away between Gam and Waigeo can be described as river flowing between the two Islands, but also a marine environment, a haven of peculiar and unique microhabitats.

This is a place where experienced divers and photographers enjoy the utterly different experience of diving in this truly one-of-a-kind location. Above water the sheer limestone cliffs make this a place where the sightseeing above water is also excessively beautiful. Guests combine this trip visiting the labyrinthine Hidden Bay, a maze of towering islets, and Kabui Bay where literally hundreds of mushroom islands create staggering scenery. This trip is out of our 10km range, but is offered once a week without any fuel surcharges!
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