We are glad you are here reading this article about the main information you need to know about Raja Ampat Liveaboards. We hope you find this information useful and we encourage you to comment and ask in case you have any doubt.
What is a Liveaboard?
Liveaboards?, what are liveaboards you may ask yourself? It’s surprisingly still a common question often asked by divers who have never heard of a Liveaboard before. Liveaboards effectively are a large boat on which you live and dive from, hence live-aboard. Liveaboards can be found worldwide throughout the top diving destinations and Raja Ampat is no different.
Raja Ampat Liveaboard?
In fact there are more liveaboards visiting and diving the Raja Ampat area than there are resorts. Worldwide the styles and designs of liveaboards vary greatly in style of vessel, design and comfort. There are basic boats with a few cabins to large ships with numerous decks, private suites, AC etc. These different ranges hold of course different price tags. As with hotels there is always a range of star options and for liveaboards there is a variety of different quality levels of vessels. With all liveaboards as you are usually onboard for the entire stay with few options to go ashore they are sold on a full board basis. Again the quality of food served and service provided is related to the price paid.
Main Raja Ampat Liveaboards and what to expect on a Raja Ampat liveaboard?
The Main Raja Ampat Liveaboards are based on a traditional Indonesian design of a “Phinisi Ship”. The Phinisi’s were originally used as trading ships, they are two (sometimes three) mast ships, they resemble the western Ketch with the fore mast often being larger, however the booms are different in fact the tops look like mini cranes and this is exactly what they used to be used for, lifting cargo into and off of the deck. They also double as the frame for a sail. The ships range usually between 20 to 35 meters in length with the larger ships the main fore mast can be 30m tall. They are wooden boats with a 2 to 4 decks usually in the rear, these decks provide resting/sunbathing areas, indoor and outdoor dining, cabins and of course the dive kit area. Many of the Raja Ampat Liveaboards still use the sails and offer the peace of sailing between locations on the archipelagos winds.
Many Raja Ampat liveaboards prepare and brief the dives aboard the main vessel and then divers are taken to the site via smaller boats, due to the large size and depth of the hull of the Liveaboards they cannot get close to the dive site and all diving activates will take place off of these small boats, which you will board directly from the big boat.
Best time to go on a Raja Ampat Liveaboard
The Raja Ampat liveaboards are only in the area for a few months of the year, usually between November to April/May where they then visit other areas. There is only one or 2 that spend the year in the area. So if it’s a Raja Ampat liveaboard you want you have to check the schedules carefully that you can be in the area you want.
Raja Ampat Liveboard advantages
Life onboard is scheduled with set dive times and meal times, in between there’s time for some relaxing and sunbathing. Some liveaboards will do the main part of the traveling in the very early morning before guests are awake so you can wake up to a new view.
Some of the Advantages of booking a Raja Ampat Liveaboard is that you will often see more of the area from the ship, more of the islands and different areas within Raja Ampat. For some divers who don’t like to dive a site more than once the liveaboards offer a different site for each dive. Often the liveaboards only have divers aboard so there will be lots of likeminded people aboard.
Raja Ampat Liveboard disadvantages
There are as with all liveaboards disadvantages. As the Raja Ampat liveaboards are big ships they tend to anchor off in deep water, so your never that close to land to go for a walk along the beach, trek in the jungle or snorkel through the mangroves. Missing all the sights and sounds that the jungle has to offer, to see the Parrots and hear the tropical bird calls, to see the Cus Cus in the trees at night the vast array of butterflies, wild orchids, lizards and plant in the day is truly lost when spending the night and day at sea. Raja Ampat liveaboards lose that true feeling of connecting with the vast variety of nature that Raja Ampat has to offer.
Unfortunately there are some boats that all too often anchor closer to the reef system to reduce the distance spent transporting divers back and forth creating a big environmental concern with the damage created by anchoring, even in deep water and over sand there is always almost some poor creatures injured or homes destroyed. Ideally when choosing an area and location in which to take a liveaboard trip to, it is best to choose an area where there are mooring buoys and there are no anchors being dropped and therefore damaging the environment. Unfortunately Raja Amapt has no moorings on any of the site or within the area. Therefore unfortunately all Raja Amapt liveaboards are contributing in some way to the destruction of the reefs systems and the marine environment that so many divers and visitors travel here to see.
Some liveaboards may take you ashore on the small boats but not often as these boats are mainly in use taking the divers back and forth from the dive sites. Being at sea 24hrs is truly for those with good sea legs and a real passion for being on the water all the time. For some this is fantastic, but here in Raja Ampat there is so much more to see other than just the stunning reefs and marine life.
In actual fact the main top dive sites of Raja Ampat are found in the Dampier Strait and actually not much more than a 30 min speed boat ride from each other. So the Liveaboards don’t often actually do that much traveling in the area, but remain anchored in one place for a day or two. When they do travel its often in the early morning and there will be the sound of the engines before guests are awake, in the day the generators and compressors are running for filling the tanks. Usually meaning that most of the time there is always a motor running and making noise which is not the most peaceful experiences if you’re sensitive to noise.
Space aboard is limited and its not always that easy to find a spot to relax away from others.
What is the best choice to dive Raja Ampat? A Raja Ampat Liveaboard or a shore based Resort?
Raja Amapt Liveaboards can be luxurious boats with a luxurious price tags, they have strict timing schedules and only visit a dive site the once in the week or 10 day itinerary.
Its important to ask yourself what are you really looking for from a trip to Raja Ampat, taking in to account all in your traveling party. What are the main things everyone wants to do when making a trip to Raja Ampat?
Most of the resorts in Raja Ampat are located in and around the Dampier Strait on the various surrounding Islands. They have all the top Raja Ampat Dampier strait dive sites all within a 30 min speed boat ride away. Allowing for morning dives and lunch back at the resort, with time to sun bathe, snooze or read a book before a third and forth dive for those that choose. The resorts central locations means there is more time available to spend diving the dive sites and less journey time. They are also able to visit the dive sites more than once upon guests request, as a dive site that is truly amazing is a site you often want to see again. An option that isn’t usually available on a Raja Ampat Liveaboard.
A shore based trip in a resort in the Raja Ampat Dampier Straits allows for flexibility for families who are not all divers and offers plenty of options for those not on the dive boat, or to join the dive boat to snorkel as well if they choose. There are Jungle treks, kayak tours, bird watching trips and visits to local villages to really take in the culture and beautiful surroundings that Raja Ampat has to offer.
For those more ecologically minded and aware and wanting to be responsible tourists there are several factors to keep in mind when choosing between a Raja Ampat Liveaboard and a Raja Ampat resort or even a Raja Ampat Eco Resort. Many of the Raja Ampat Liveaboards employ staff from the larger and more developed island with a better education behind them. The Raja Amapt resorts focus on employing locals from the local villages and communities surrounding them to help support their families, develop their training and earning potential and support the community with offering materials for the schools and villages from food and clothe donations to helping develop their education system with the employment of professionally trained teachers for the schools to name a few ways in which the Resort support the locals of Raja Ampat.
Raja Ampat Liveaboards often begin the journey from a large port often Sorong where they stock up on fuel, food water and other supplies. All only bought in Sorong. The Resorts will often buy most of their fresh produce either from local villagers or from the market stalls in Waisai, again helping the local community with the purchase of their produce, spreading the income from tourists visiting the area to a wider range of local businesses than just the large stores and suppliers of Sorong.
As you can see there are many reasons for and against choosing a Raja Ampat liveaboards to dive Raja Ampat. Hopefully the details here will help you choose the option for you and your diving adventure to Raja Ampat.