The crew on the boat were so very attentive. I’ve never had such personalized service on a liveaboard before!
Raja Ampat dive trips cruise the West Papua province of Indonesia which encompasses 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Waigei, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. The itinerary can include Misool National Park, Dampier Strait, Penemu, Farondi and Arborek depending on length of the trip.
The remote nature of these islands has protected the marine life and maintained their status as the world’s most biodiverse and healthy reefs. Raja Ampat is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 500 species of coral and 15 species of marine mammals. Raja Ampat is a scuba diver’s dreamland where divers can hope to see manta rays, pygmy seahorses, wobbegong sharks and a rainbow of colors along the coral gardens.
Dive Cape Kri, for most species of fish identified (374) on a single dive.
- Number of dives: 26 – 42 depending upon trip length
- Highlights: Enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs, large groups of manta rays and turtles
- Reefs: Soft and hard corals, sloping reefs, vertical walls, tunnels, caverns
- Shore excursions: An oyster farm, hikes to Penemu Landing’s scenic overlook, a local fishermen village
- Skill level: Intermediate to advanced, mostly drift diving, recommended at least 50 dives experience
- When to go: November to April
- Water temperature: 81 – 86F, 27 – 30C
Lembeh Strait is located in a fairly remote region of Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia in the center of the Coral Triangle. This body of water separates Lembeh Island from the mainland’s coastal city of Bitung. The waters are revered among muck divers as the holy grail of critter hunting and it has earned the reputation as the “Muck Diving Capital of the World.” While some dive destinations feature certain aquatic life at select times of year, Lembeh Strait is reputed for its year-round viewing and most dive sites are with little or no current.
- Number of dives: Approx. 42 depending on length of stay
- Highlights: 3 species of scorpionfish, Pegasus sea moths, cuttlefish, 5 species of octopus – wonderpus, mimic and blue-ringed hairy, nudibranchs and seahorses including the pygmy variety, 8 species of frogfish, ghost pipefish
- Reefs: Barren black volcanic sand slopes, rubble zones, sheltered bays, rocky pinnacles, white limestone sand slopes, fringing coral reefs, walls, jetty dives, seagrass plains, shipwrecks and transitional environments
- Shore excursions: Should dive guests which to extend their stay, consider a tour of Tangkoko National Park & Nature Reserve, near Manado. In route, take in views of volcanoes and jungles. Exceptional park wildlife includes macaques, spectral tarsiers, Cuscus bears and black tarantulas.
- Skill level: Advanced open water (AOW) recommended
- When to go: Year-round but optimum conditions August to December
- Water temperature: 77 – 84F, 25 – 29C
Triton Bay is a relatively unknown dive destination in West Papua with amazing treasures. It is becoming legendary for its beautiful soft and black corals that cover the seafloor and filled with tiny creatures. The area is also home to nesting turtles, Byrde’s whales (pronounced broodus) and migrating whale sharks. Endemic species are wobbegong, long-tailed walking sharks and the Nuraslim flasher wrasse, the latter discovered only in recent years. The nutrient-rich waters attract vast schools of fish. The tradeoff, if there is any, is the visibility is slightly diminished from September to December when the water is cooler, but sea life is plentiful. Protected since 2008, the Kaimana Marine Area, in the center of Triton Bay, showcases numerous species from September to June after the monsoon season. As a bonus, new dive sites continue to be discovered.
- Number of dives: 28 – 48 depending upon trip length
- Highlights: September to June – wobbegong, schooling reef fish – barracuda, snapper and jacks, trevallies, unique crab and shrimp, bumphead parrotfish, turtles, octopus, pygmy seahorse, giant grouper, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse. October to June – also whale sharks, mandarinffish
- Reefs: Caves, caverns, sheltered bays, overhangs, cascading boulders, islands swept by currents near the mouth of the bay
- Shore excursions: One of the best ways to explore the bay is via kayak. Discover the beauty of Mommon Waterfall, where freshwater plunges into crystal clear saltwater. Birdwatchers will revel in sighting the Papuan hornbill, an endemic species that resides in the jungle forest. Prehistoric rock art can be found on the cliffs in Triton Bay, some are considered sacred sites.
- Skill level: Advanced open water (AOW) recommended
- When to go: Optimum conditions September to June post monsoon
- Water temperature: 79 – 82F, 26 – 28C (December to May) and 79 – 84F, 26 – 29C (September to December)
Located between the two top diving destinations Papau and Java, the Banda Sea is an absolute underwater playground for scuba divers. The plankton blooms mean the reefs and sea mounts are overflowing with marine life. The Banda Sea is also home to a group of the Moluccas Islands to the north and the Forgotten Islands (see separate details) to the south. The itinerary can include East Flores (see also Forgotten Islands (Alor), Komba, Ring of Fire, Nusa Laut and Ambon depending on the length of trip.
Visit Manuk, also known as Snake Island, one of the best spots to view sea snakes. Be sure to keep your eye on the blue on the wall dives as sharks, barracudas, tuna and trevallies are often observed. Ambon (in the Moluccas) is the best place in the world for muck diving with only Lembeh Strait as a close second. This is on every macro photographer’s wish list with frogfish, nudibranchs, cuttlefish, seahorses, pipefish, juvenile spadefish and batfish and harlequin shrimp, all waiting to be found and captured digitally.
- Number of dives: 22 – 38 depending on length of stay
- Highlights: Huge shoals of mobula rays, eagle rays, white tipped reef sharks, and if fortunate schooling hammerhead sharks too
- Reefs: Lush hard and soft corals
- Shore excursions: Hot springs
- Skill level: Advanced open water (AOW), mostly drift diving, recommended at least 50 dives experience
- When to go: April, October
- Water temperature: North of islands 80 – 84F, 27 – 28C except south of Forgotten Islands 75 – 77F, 24 – 25C