Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia is a divers’ paradise. The Raja Ampat snorkeling opportunities are amazing. One of the delights that Raja Ampat has to offer is its shallow reefs systems. It is great for dives to have long bottom times. Also, it is visible and accessible for snorkeling.
The variety of reef systems boast a different variety of corals and reef fish . You have the possibility to snorkel on many different sites. To be safe, you should read the following information about Raja Ampat snorkeling .
Snorkeling in Raja Ampat – Safety
Water activities like snorkeling carry a small degree of risk. There are some safety guidelines and a few basic guidelines you should know about. In that way, you can be safe and enjoy the beauty of the underwater world.
Equipment is the most important factor, therefore, it should fit, and you should know how to use it. It is important to have a comfortable and fitting snorkeling gear.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when it comes to your equipment:
1) Choose the right mask
A tempered glass and a soft silicone mask is a must. Name brands and color do not matter. The fit is the most important. How can you find a correct size? Put a mask on your face and breath in through your nose. If the mask sticks to your face, it fits. If the mask falls off, try another.
You should defog your mask first. So, you can use a commercial defog or a shampoo. Rub it in and rinse it off. Wet your hair and face before putting on the mask. Equalizing the temperature of your face with that of the seawater. This will lower the risk of fogging. Push your hair back so it does not leak in your mask.
The mask strap belongs on the back of your head. Keep the strap snug but NOT tight. A very tight strap causes the seal to stretch and your mask will leak. After, attach the snorkel to the mask strap.
2) Choose your fins
Your finns should be comfortable. If you choose closed heel fins it does not matter if your toes show or not. The fit over the top of the arch of your feet is important. If you have booties, use an open heel fin. If you enter the water from the beach, walk into at least waist deep water before putting your fins on. All the sand should be off your feet.
3) In-water techniques
Relax and try breathing through the snorkel before you try it in the water. Get used to the slight resistance in air flow. Practice long slow big breaths in and out. Be aware that at certain angles your head can go underwater with the snorkel. If you do get under water, there’s a simple way to solve that problem. Exhale while saying the number two. This will blast any water out of your snorkel.
Keep your hands across your chest and kick gently. Make slow movements from your hips and ankles. Do not use your knees.
Finally, wear a t-shirt or a rash vest and plenty of sunscreen.
Snorkeling Golden Rules
Snorkeling is a usually safe and simple hobby. But there are some golden rules that keep you safe and unharmed.
- Golden Rule 1: Watch those fins!
When you snorkel, remember to swim and not walk. One would expect this to be a rather simple request. But we noticed that some people with “booties” sometimes find themselves walking. The amount of damage done to coral and a range of underwater life is insane. Fins tend to float up behind you. You should stay in a horizontal position and above the reef. If you must stand, check where you can put your feet. Fins make your body longer. Thus you need to be sure that your fins are below you.
- Golden Rule 2: Don’t take or touch anything and don’t leave anything behind!
Touching things can come at your own detriment too. Keep your hands to yourself. Corals are in the same family as jellyfish. So, they have stinging tentacles. They are very sensitive and the acid on your hands can do harm to many of different corals.
- Golden Rule 3: Take someone with you!
Never go into the ocean alone. This is common sense. If you do not have a buddy to snorkel with, make sure there is some surface support. For example, someone on land spotting you or a boat crew following you along.
- Golden Rule 4: Slow down!
Make slow movements and breathe gently. If you flap with your arms or kick with your feet, it will chase away the very wildlife you are searching for. It also picks up sediment, which then settles on corals and can smother them. You will have a better visibility If you make slow movements.
Raja Ampat Snorkeling sites
Raja Ampat has a representation of over 65% of all the worlds currently know species of corals. The life that resides in the reefs makes coral reefs one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Up to 70% of the world’s species of fishes spend at some point of their lives time in a reef system.
Raja Ampat snorkeling provides the most pristine and untouched reefs. A higher average sea temperature makes the corals and reefs more resilient to diseases and temperature changes.
Here are some of the best spots for a Raja Ampat snorkeling adventure:
1) Biodiversity House Reef
Here you can find a fringe reef system right in front of the resort. Depending on the tide, the top of the reef is between two and five meters. It sloops off to twenty meters. You can spot hard corals and table corals. Also, there are several fish species like moray eels, turtles and reef sharks. It is also known as a great night snorkel site. At night you have good chances to see the Raja Ampat epilate shark aka the walking shark.
2) Batu Lima
Batu Lima, which means “5 Rocks”, is an extension of the house reef. The shallow rocks sit towards the end of the peninsula. At high tide it is possible to swim between the rocks and see the wonderful pinks and purples of the gorgonians. Often there is a Wobbegong hiding in there too.
The island of Mioskun is ten minutes away from the resort. It provides a stunning peninsula extending out on the east side of the island. The top of the reef is between two and three meters. It can extend to seven meters. Snorkelers can spot chromis and damsel fish, fusiliers and the passing trevally and jack fish. This site also has many napoleon wrasse. In season there are good opportunities to see the odd passing mantas as well.
4) Frewin Garden
Frewin Garden provides a kaleidoscope of colors. There are countless reef fish species, reef sharks, fusiliers, red tooth triggers and emperors.
5) Frewin Wall
As an extension from Frewin Garden the wall extends the entire length of the island. The density of sponges and tunicates covering the surface is spectacular. Large fan corals and gorgonians provide a unique snorkeling experience
6) Frewin Laut
The tip of the reef extends to two to three meters. So, the density and variety of the different hard coral species on this site is a wonder. You can spot all the usual reef fish, blue spotted reys and the huge bump head parrot fish.
7) Sardines Reef
Sardines Reef is between the islands of Mioskun and Koh. It offers a large bank reef system. With the top of the reef between three to eight meters, this is a place for experienced snorkelers. By currents on this site, you can float along and watch fishes passing by. It is a conveyor belt of fish. There is often a good chance to see many reef sharks at this site as well.
8) Koh Island
The entire southeast side of Koh is full of in reef. The reef extends from a shallow shore to two to four meters in depth. Koh boasts large schools of pelagic fish off the reef and a wide variety of reef fish in the shallows. There are also regular sightings of hawksbill turtles on this site.
9) Cape Kri
Cape Kri is holding the world record for the highest number of fish species counted in a single dive. The reef starts as a flat bank extending out from Kri Island. This is not a site for beginners due to the currents. The top of the reef ranges from three to eight meters. At the peninsular it drops to +30 meters. You can spot barracuda, big eye trevally, bluefin trevally, dog tooth tuna and snappers here. There are also many turtles on top of the reef like hawksbills and green turtles.
This site provides giant clams under the jetty and lots of macro life in the shallows of one to three meters. To the top of the reef along the wall at three to five meters, different species of sweet lips, parrot fish and snappers live here. You can also spot large pelagics in the blue with barracuda, jacks and trevally. It may not hold the record like Kri but this is definitely one of the most biodiverse sites in Raja Ampat.
Ransiwor is on the back side of Kri Island. The reef covers a large area with depths ranging from two to eight meters at the top of the reef. It is the home to many squirrel fish. There are often a lot of turtles on this site. Often, you can follow and watch them closely.
12) Manta Sandy
At Manta Sandy there are a couple of large cleaning stations that the mantas visit daily. Snorkelers can float to the side of these stations and have an amazing view of these majestic giants. The visibility is not always good at this site but it is still possible to see the mantas.
13) Arbork Jetty
The Jetty at Arbork boasts many schools of fusiliers and sliver side. There you can find the big giant trevally and other large pelagic fish. All the action is under the jetty. There are often strong currents, especially off the jetty towards the reef. You can spend hours watching and enjoying all the action.
Enjoy a Raja Ampat snorkeling adventure
Many of the beaches of Raja Ampat come with a fringing reef system. Thusefore, they provide a good snorkeling opportunity. But not all provide the best diversity. The House reef in front of the Raja Ampat Biodiversity Eco Resorts is one of the best “house reef” systems in Raja Ampat. The only way to reach and see bigger snorkel sites is by boat. Often it is not possible to join the dive boats taking divers to these sites. In that case, you can hire a private boat to take you to the sites of your request.
If you have any question about Raja Ampat snorkeling, don’t hesitate to contact us.
More information about eco diving snorkeling courses.