The Essence of Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is not really about rare critters or seeing sharks, there are generally not as many of what one would call - classic critters or big marine life. What is so special about this area is the scenery and in places the abundance of fish life. Dives where you are inundated with vast schools of fish, on the best of dives fish seem to block out the sun there are so many. Mellow drift dives across the most beautiful coral slopes and channels, unique dives with heavily undercut mushroom shaped islands with gorgeous coral growth virtually to the surface. Some of the best coral gardens we have seen are in this area.
Taking a live-aboard will allow you to see not just these great fish dives but also the topside highlights of this area too. The real “essence of Raja Ampat” is the incredible mix of wonderful topside scenery with great reefs to dive on. Another highlight of this area is taking rides on the tender boat through the most outstanding island scenery of any dive destination anywhere.
This is also the place where Dr. Gerald Allen found those 273 different species—see how many you can count! A great range of dive sites here makes this area stand out as being probably the best dive area in the whole of Indonesia for fish life. And not just for the species diversity; the schooling fish life is also incredible. Most reefs here are vibrant with vast amounts of soft corals covering huge coral outcrops that in turn are surrounded by thousands of small sweepers. There are critters as well, but not as many as in other areas, though for sure there are some great areas with rare and unusual marine life.
Waigeo (Aljui Bay)
A great area to anchor amongst the many small islands that make this area like a huge maze. There is also an interesting pearl farm here. The welcoming staff can show divers some of the processes that go into farming high-end pearls. Dive sites vary; many feature brilliantly colorful invertebrate-covered walls that are dotted with caverns. These all seem to just fall from the rock faces that rise up above the water, being topped off with incredible tropical scenery. There are dive sites here that are great critter dives, with many kinds nudibranches and crustaceans to keep the macro lovers content. This area probably has the best macro site in the northern RajaAmpat we have come across up to now!
More small islands here that are home to some incredible dive sites. Amongst these we encounter groups of small islands. Here pelagic fish and many different schooling fish can be seen. Right on the edge of the Equator there are more impressive islands, some looking like Bonsai trees sitting on a rock base. One very small island has what can only be described as being one the best topographical sites in the area. Walls surround most of the island, which can be circumnavigated easily on one dive. But there is much more, including a coral-covered seamount with hundreds of schooling fish swimming around it, small plateaus, a small cavern, giant sea fans, and many black coral bushes surrounding a tall pinnacle. Some sites here are open to the seas and often experience strong currents. Swells frequently make safety stops near the reef a little awkward.
The dive sites are home to great marine life, beautiful reef scenery, some schooling pelagic fish, and great topographical underwater landscapes. Also this is home to a hidden blue lagoon with the only way in being from the ocean. Only us divers will ever see this sight.
Wai Island Area
Surrounded by white sand beaches and reefs that are home now to plane wrecks as well as great marine life. One plane lays on a reef slope covered in an array of beautiful soft corals, with the slope itself sometimes sporting various interesting critters. Reefs here have been impacted in the past, though in places the reef crest is an area where you will want that over-under lens. With a tropical island backdrop, what more could you ask. At times it is possible to see large groups of manta rays cruising by here.
Whale Sharks in Cenderawasih Bay
Untouched environments, completely in their natural states. Fish populations and coral are healthy, with an enormous variety of species. Many rare and exotic critters. Local villagers are culturally interesting and friendly.
Triton Bay is still pretty much in the middle of nowhere, far away from the crowd. There are innumerable small islands in the bay. Spectacular scenery over the mainland features rock art cliffs. This area enjoys an unexcelled fish Biomass. Soft coral gardens cover the ridges. Hard coral growth also shows excellent health. This area has both pelagics and critters, with the diving ranging from very good to outstanding.
MAPIA…a tiny island right on the equator, between West Papua and Palau.
Come here for nudibranchs galore beneath huge schools of fish. You’ll see snappers, trevally, big groupers, barracudas, gray sharks, pink leaf scorpion fish, rainbow runners, jacks, tunas, huge Napoleon wrasses, and even huger bumphead parrotfish by the hundreds. Dive sites include Bumphead City, Schooling Point, Mapia Boulevard, and Bumphead City—and they came by their names for good reason.
Come to Manokwari for amazing WWII wreck diving, including P-40 (a Curtiss Tomahawk fighter), Cross Wreck, and the Japanese freighter Shinwa Maru, plus the usual amazing wildlife, including healthy and profuse hard and soft corals. Dive profiles extend down to the 30 meter range.
Whale Sharks in Cenderawasih Bay
KOMODO, the realm of the dragon
Underwater, Komodo offers just about every type of diving; from current-swept seamounts patrolled by sharks, tuna and other pelagics to calm reefs with teeming schools of fish.
Diving is good year-round. Because of strong currents and upwelling the water can be cold. We suggest a 5mm suit and hood.
Diving in the NORTH: Best period is during the southeast monsoon, from late March to early May and late September to early November. Currents are often encountered during this time. Water temperature: 24 – 29 C. Visibility: 20 – 25 m.
Diving in the SOUTH: Best period is during the northwest monsoon, mid November to early March. Water temperature: 21 – 27 C. Visibility: 10 – 15 m.
Sangeang is an active volcano whose steep, conical slopes extend up to a nearly 2,000m peak. Lava flows are occasionally visible on its flanks. This island lies between Komodo and Sumbawa island. Sangeang’s black volcanic sands offer underwater photographers a wonderfully contrasting background for fish and other critters, with streams of bubbles rising from the sands here and there due to the volcanic activity. A wealth of sea life can be found in the coral reefs around Sangeang, including nudibranchs and flatworms.
Diving Komodo, Alor, Lesser Sundas with Grand Komodo
Alor Underwater Photo Gallery
Alor is still pretty much in the middle of nowhere, away from the crowd. Remote and pristine. The masses of swirling, schooling fish and rich concentrations of invertebrates and critters may well make Alor one of the best diving Indonesia has to offer.
Shear drop offs with amazing coral reef scenery and great fish life, giant pinnacles covered in beautiful corals. Shallows are home of anthias and damselfish. Banks and walls reef. At some sites the current is 2 knots or more. Macro sites with all sorts of weirds and rare critters such as rhinopias, leaf scorpion fish, frogfish,and many other cool critters. One famous site here is renowned for large pelagic fish. Night dives usually are rich of interesting surprises.
The diversity and marine life range from beautiful coral reef scenerey and great critters to larger fish.
It is not just the diving that makes Alor special. The fact that the local communities guard their reefs for their future keep all the reef pristine makes Alor even more special. Among the special souvenirs to take home is the handwoeven IKATsarong.
Alor’s friendly inhabitants are the original source of those beautiful Ikat fabrics sold in Bali. Remote and pristine, Alor’s waters offer masses of swirling, schooling fish and a comparable diversity of rare and weird critters on the reefs. Alor is a macro photographer’s dream.
BANDA in the Banda sea
Knowledgeable divers seek out this remote location due to a confluence of currents and nutrients there, producing an unusually diverse and brilliant growth of marine life—even for Indonesia. Fishes large and small can be found on any of the dive sites. The diving ranges from the shallow lagoon between Banda Neira and Gunung Api to the vertical walls of Hatta Island.
HALMAHERA in North Maluku
These were the original Spice Islands. Until the Dutch planted cloves on Ambon Island, every clove in the world came from the Halmahera islands Ternate and Tidore.
This region features unique reef formations, with visibility 20 – 30 m, and water temperature of 27 – 28 C. Plenty of macro and micro subjects for UW photographers.
LEMBEH STRAIT in North Sulawesi
Critter heaven! Bring your macro lens and shoot flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimp, skeleton shrimps, innumerable nudibranchs, and amazing fish such as stargazers, snake eels, stonefish, sea robins, devilfish, weedy scorpion fish, pygmy seahorses, Pegasus sea robins, cardinal fish, ghost pipe fish, and the queen of small tropicals, the kaleidoscopic mandarin fish. Moreover, while much of Indonesian diving requires dealing with currents, Lembeh features easy diving in calm lake-like water. This place has earned its reputation as the muck diving capital of the world. And it makes for part of a great combination trip with Togian National Park (see the next listing).
TOGIAN National Park in Central Sulawesi
We know of nowhere else where you can dive on barrier reefs, atolls and fringing reefs all in the same area. Togian’s coral reefs offer beauty and diversity with visibility of 15 – 30 m. Eye-popping density of fish life includes schools of jacks and barracudas, bumphead parrotfish, Napoleon wrasses, snappers, fusiliers and more. The underwater landscape matches the beauty of the fish life. Explore drop offs with crevasse and overheads, canyons, rock formations, pinnacles, steep slopes and walls. You’ll see abundant gorgonians and healthy soft corals. Plus you can see a remarkably intact WWII B-24 Liberator plane wreck at 18m.
Visibility : 20 – 25 m
DIVING THE SOUTH : late November - early March
In the winter, when wind and waves are stiring up the water at the northern sites, which is the Northwest Monsoon, head South. The seas are calm and there is enough of a breeze to cool down sunburnt bodies. In November, December, January, visibility is as good as it can get in such plankton-rich seas, 10-15 meters, and the coral growth and fish life in the south are nothing short of excellent.
Best period : late November – early March
Water temperature : 27 – 28 C (from usually 21- 24 C late March – early November)
Visibility : 25 – 35 m (from usually 10 – 15 m late March – early November)
We operate Komodo all year around. Komodo is a must and a great place divers should come back and come back !
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