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.
BIRDS OF PARADISE
A short trek through a village and small plantation at Yapmanbaba village on Mansuar island, takes us under the canopy of prime forest where we can see these rare and mythical birds. If you don’t do this it’s like going to Komodo and not seeing the dragons. The sounds alone are worth the effort.
MANSUAR AREAThis 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 Raja Ampat we have come across up to now!