DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT

Raja Ampat is a major epicenter of marine biodiversity

550 species of coral (75% of all the species in the world), 700 types of mollusks and 1,427 species of fish

Guardians of Raja Ampat

Worth to watch the above video to understand how and why the community is strongly committed to the conservation of this unique place in the world.

Raja Ampat is one of few marine environments anyplace, where you can see marine life in its full range of glory. Sharks, manta rays, batfish, groupers, pygmy seahorse, schooling jacks, barracudas, fusiliers, pale-tailed surgeonfish, goatfish, giant six-banded angelfish, and purple and threadfin anthias–all these and more add to the panoply of color.

Hiding in the cracks and crevices of the reef are the occasional banded pipefish, plus white-eyed and even giant morays. Titan triggerfish can be spotted feeding on chunks of hard coral. Not to mention slender fusiliers, and green and blue damsels. Let’s not forget about Napoleon wrasse, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, groupers, snappers… Just off the reef, keep an eye open  for redtooth triggerfish and schooling bannerfish  by the hundreds… you will wish your log book had more pages!

The area’s reefs are brimming with both hard and soft corals. In the dive sites close to the resort, they are abundant, with lots of gigantic mushroom leather corals, purple soft corals and sea squirts. Hard table corals, staghorn patches, green and brown elkhorn and finger corals cover the substrate, along with brown soft coral bushes and hydrozoans.

In the deeper sections of the reef you will find large pink, lilac and purple gorgonian fans, bushes of bright red sea whips, and sea fans, presenting a dazzling assortment of colors. Look for small green sea pens, spiky blue-jade tube sponges, and brown hydrozoans and giant tridachna clams (over 100 years old and quite a rarity!). Nestled among the anemones, you’ll find porcelain crabs!

According to Dr Jerry Allen, one of the world’s foremost ichthyologists (author of more than 33 books and 400 scientific articles):

“One of my favorite places to dive in Raja Ampat is Cape Kri. Over a decade ago, years before Raja became THE place to dive in the world, I counted 327 fish species on a single dive. I went back about two years ago and couldn’t believe the positive changes on the site. Most impressionable to me was the fact that the fish had become accustomed to divers. I didn’t even have to look for fish. They found me! The survey was the highest species count I’ve ever tallied on one dive, 374 distinct species in 90 minutes!”

Diving in Raja Ampat: What To Expect?

In Raja Ampat, the ocean current is a constantly changing component and must always be taken into account when planning dives. We take into consideration the level, experience and confidence of each diver in the group. These currents and water movement are a major contributor to the reefs’ vitality. As many divers in Raja Ampat say:

“No current, no life”.

Reef hooks may be needed; we can provide them (for experienced divers only), but we have a limited supply, so we encourage you to bring your own.

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, since we offer dives for every level of experience in Raja Ampat and we are used to working with divers at all levels. At Biodiversity Resort we teach classes in everything from Open Water to Divemaster, and we know the best spots for beginners diving in Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat is a year-round diving destination.

 

High Season: from September to April.

This is considered high season, due to the large number of manta rays that come through then, to use the cleaning station.

Low Season: from May to August.

It’s considered low season because, after April, it is unusual to find manta rays at the cleaning station.

On the other hand, since there is no plankton then, the water is clearer and has greater visibility than the rest of the year. Every year for a couple of weeks, in May or June, we can see ocean manta rays (up to 5 meters long) at dive sites like Blue Magic, just 20 minutes from the resort.

The rest of the marine life is equally impressive throughout the year.

Rain: In the tropics we can have rain any time, but the variable factor to consider is the wind
Wind: The windy season tends to be around June – August, although the waves are minimal and don’t usually affect the dives.

Generally calm; but during the windy season months, you can expect choppy seas.

During the month of August, you can expect the ocean to be turbulent. During this season, some companies of liveaboard in Raja Ampat suspend their services. However, it is easier to operate from a resort, even if the conditions aren’t ideal. There are only a few days a year, mostly in August, that some dives may be canceled due to the weather. If this should happen, we would give you the option of making up those missed dives.

Like any diving operation in the world, we depend on the weather, so please bear in mind that wind can affect our operations.

If you don’t live in Indonesia, it’s important to start planning your trip months in advance, for visas, reservations and transportation.

Maintenance of diving equipment in Raja Ampat is complicated; please be sure that your materials are in perfect condition and bring some replacement parts with you.

These are just a few of our recommendations. If you are planning to dive in Raja Ampat, we recommend that you also read our page about ‘Diving Safety.”

One of the main advantages of this region, compared to others in Indonesia and around the world, is that the water temperature stays warm year round, allowing you to dive in Raja Ampat, even in the low season.

Water temperature: is a consistent 28 – 30°C year-round.
Wet Suit: You will need a light wetsuit. We have 3 mm shorties for rental. If you get cold easily or have special size considerations, we encourage you to bring your own.
Visibility: generally ranges between 15 and 20 meters.

Visibility in Raja Ampat is not very good, due to the many nutrients, so on a good day, expect 15mts/20mts

Remember that you are traveling to one the most remote corners of the earth, and diving equipment is limited. Please be sure that your materials are in perfect working order, and bring replacement pieces with you for diving in Raja Ampat.

We encourage all divers to bring:

1) dive computer
2) mask
3) safety surface marker
4) Diving certificate or other documentation that you are a certified diver. Required.
5) Adaptadores INT si tu regulador es DIN. Tenemos stock limitado en el resort.
INT adapters, if your regulator is DIN. We have only limited stock at the resort.
6) Diving hook.

Papua is an area with malaria, and you should be vaccinated if you’re going to travel to Raja Ampat. The medication Lariam has reduced effect in our zone; however, you can take Malarone or Doxycycline. Consult your doctor about specific directions for administering medications and any possible adverse effects on divers.
Medical services in Raja Ampat are limited. At Biodiversity Eco Resort we have emergency oxygen, but oxygen is an insufficient treatment, in cases of decompression sickness.

For possible diving complications, the nearest hyperbaric chamber is in Waisai. (Don’t forget that it’s required to have diving insurance in effect which covers your transportation and treatment, in case of an accident.)

Endemic and Interesting Species

  • THE PAPUAN GARDEN EEL, JUST DISCOVERED IN 2010

Just discovered in 2010, the garden eel is a species belonging to the Heterocongrinae. It lives in groups, in dens at the bottom of the ocean, and it spends most of its time with its small body (up to 60 cm long) hidden in the sand.

  • THE MANTIS SHRIMP, ONE OF 8 ENDEMIC SPECIES

This Stomatopoda crustacean is common in the waters of Raja Ampat. They are also known as “thumb splitters” among the divers, because of their aggressive nature and sharp claws. They are brightly colored and can grow up to 12 cm long.

  • THE TASSELLED WOBBEGONG (EUCROSSORHINUS DASYPOGON)

The bizarre looking Wobbegong shark is a fairly common sight, once you know where to look for them!), Raja Ampat is one of the very few places, outside of Australia, where you can see these creatures. They make for a great photo opportunity! Wobbegongs are well camouflaged, with a symmetrical pattern of bold markings, resembling a carpet. The camouflage is enhanced by the presence of small, weed-like whisker lobes surrounding the Wobbegong’s jaw, which it uses to lure and catch fish.

  • HEMISCYLLIUM FREYCINETI, RAJA AMPAT EPAULETTE SHARK

This is s a small, harmless carpet shark that seems to walk on the ocean floor with its fins. Most species are 1.25 meters long or less.

  • PYGMY SEAHORSES

There are several species and they are fairly common in the area.

Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti)
Denise’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise)
Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi)

  • BLACK MANTAS

Most manta rays around the world have dark upper sides and white lower sides. Here you can see the Raja Ampat mantas, which are, black both on top and underneath. Rather a magnificent sighting!

Diving in Raja Ampat: Photography

We have dive sites for all levels and interests, big and small. With this amazing variety, you may find it hard to pick!

Typically, Raja Ampat is considered a wide-angle destination, shooting for coral gardens and landscapes.

MACRO

If you are a macro lover, the variety of macro life in Raja Ampat will delight you! With a little luck you will see Pygmy Seahorses, tiny Gobies and Blennies. Nudiphiles will not be disappointed, since you will see different varieties  on virtually every dive. You may even encounter the remarkable blue-ringed octopus! Keep an eye on the sand, since mimic octopuses have been seen here, too. With some patience, you can find ghost pipefish (robust, harlequin, halimeda) and pygmy seahorses. Check out the fire urchins for zebra crabs, the sea cucumbers for pearlfish, and the sandy rubble for peacock mantis shrimp, flying gurnards, gobies and blennies.

WIDE ANGLE

Diving in Raja Ampat is all about opening your eyes and taking it all in. With so much going on at any one time, keep an eye on the big blue, and be sure to bring your wide-angle camera lenses. The underwater topography around these rock islands includes swim-through passages, mushroom-shaped features, and cracks and pinnacles. It’s no wonder that Raja Ampat’s wide- angle photos often adorn the covers of dive books and magazines.

Definitely, diving in Raja Ampat is a highly recommended experience for macro and wide angle lovers!