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RAJA AMPAT; a truly wild place.

Why diving Raja Ampat should be your next diving and photography destination.

Imagine a place so wild, so untouched, it feels as if you're exploring a wild place before human kind reached all corners of the earth. The reefs are thriving and colourful teaming with fish life from ocean giants to the macro level critters. Thousands of islands within the marine park are home to some of the most unique birdlife, reptiles and marsupials. Whether you explore by land or sea there is something that will fill you with wonder. It is one of our planets last remaining wild places.



Photo above: A colour reef scene from Misool.


The name Raja Ampat literally translates to ‘The Four Kings’, after its four main islands Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. This incredible part of the world is located off the northwest tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula of Papua Island and many call it ‘The Last Paradise’. The archipelago comprises of well over 1,500 islands covered in tropical jungle which are surrounded by rich healthy reef systems, mangrove forests and incredibly abundant marine life. Whether you’re a lover of macro or megafauna, a visit to Raja Ampat will simply leave you in awe. To list what you can see there even on a single would be almost never ending. I had wanted to dive the area since seeing the region featured in a documentary series 'Tales By Light'. My first trip there was in 2018 and it lead me even to visit a second time one year later in 2019, and again two more times in 2023 and 2024. I'll now be leading a trip once more in 2025 which I'm very excited about. If you'd like to join see the details at the bottom of this blog.


Everything about this place is beautiful and not only below the surface, the islands themselves have much to reveal such as endemic species of birds of paradise. Everything is thriving with untouched wilderness, wildlife and colour. Situated amongst an area that is called ‘The Coral Triangle’, it is part of the most biodiverse marine environment in the world. Its incredible diversity is due to being located between the Indian and Pacific Ocean where fish and coral larvae from both oceans is shared. With over 1,500 species of corals and more than 530 species of fish, the library of what you might encounter is huge. From manta rays, whale sharks, wobbegongs, reef sharks, turtles, devil rays, walking sharks, endemic species of pygmy seahorse, nudibranchs, flamboyant cuttlefish other macro critters. Each site has something unique to offer from walls of colour, giant sea fans, clouds of baitfish, action packed schools of trevally and hunting action from tuna. This is only listing some of what you will see during a trip there. It really is the pinnacle of diving locations, a true crown jewel of the Indo-Pacific ocean.


Photo above: Two pygmy sea horses on a sea fan.


HOW TO DIVE IT?

There are a couple of ways to dive Raja Ampat, you can choose to stay at a dive resort on one of the main islands in central Raja Ampat, or to go by live aboard. I highly advise later option, as it is such a large area. Diving it from a live-aboard means to will be able to cover a bigger portion of the archipelago and visit some of the more remote sites. If you stay in central Raja you will miss out on some of the best diving locations and encounter many divers underwater as there are not controls on how many boats can visit a site at a time in central Raja. It can be very busy and my experiences in that area were always disappointing. The further south you can get, the more remote you are and the less people you will encounter as these ares are only reachable by live-aboard. The souther areas are also strictly monitored by the Misool Foundation who employ rangers. Each dive site must be booked in advance by the dive live-aboards to ensure only one company is using a site at a time. This makes the whole experience much more enjoyable for everyone and helps to ensure the reefs are suffering less impact of over crowding on the sites.


Photo above: A giant oceanic manta approaches at Magic Mountain, Misool.


THE SOUTH

Misool in the south hosts some of Raja Ampat’s most fascinating dive sites. With the most amazing landscapes imaginable, deep mangroves to ravines and canyons, the Misool Islands have been shaped by the powerful forces of nature. Underwater the vibrant variety of colour of the hard corals, soft corals and sea fan species are wonderful. Diving at the Boo Window, Puri Pinnacle, Nudi Rock, Goa Farundi and Eagle Nest are just some of the awesome sites you can see. Each dive is so unique with anything from walls of pink and purple corals, to sea mounts swarming with millions of fast moving silverside hunted at top speed by Trevally and Tuna. To tell you all the magical encounters I had would take me days, the end of each dive my dive buddy and I were lost for words to even list what we had seen. Most of our trip was spent diving in the area around Misool Island, in my opinion it hosts some of the best dives. We encountered so many different species on these sites and everything from big to small marine animals, even a pod of dolphins visited us on one of the dives which was a big surprise. 


The one site that really stood out for me was our dive at a place called Magic Mountain. It really could not have been named more accurately. This sea mount is packed with life from clustered schools of batfish and fusiliers to huge and friendly Napoleon wrass. Its rocky and coral covered slopes disappear off into the blue depths on either side. My buddy and I descended onto a deeper section of one of the ridges, we started to spot the arrival of several manta rays. I counted about 8 mantas approaching and as they came closer I was amazed to see that there were actually oceanic and reef mantas together. There are very few places in the world where you can see both species in one place, Raja Ampat happens to be one of them. More and more mantas were arriving from all directions, flying over our heads as they got cleaned by the smaller fishes inhabiting the mount. It truely was an exhilarating dive I will never forget.



Photo above: A divers view over on of the sea mounts at The Four Kings dive site.



JOIN MY TRIP

In 2025 I'll be hosting a 13 day trip to some of the most untouched areas of Raja Ampat. Limited to a small, exclusive group of only 11 guests, to ensure an intimate setting for each participant. Secure your place today for an unforgettable venture into the depths of Raja Ampat, West Papua. This trip is aimed at lovers of truly wild places who want to snorkel or dive this incredible location.

Our journey will begin in Kaimana, West Papua where we will board our beautiful vessel and home for trip, The Damai I.  From there we will venture south to towards Triton Bay. This region boasts colourful reefs which are fed by the nutrient rich waters from the rivers producing huge fields of soft corals, giant sea fans and clouds of planktonic feeding fishes. There is also the possibility to encounter whale sharks here which is a real highlight. We will then move north west towards Misool to explore some of the most stunning reef walls and sea mounts with colourful giant sea fans, soft corals and an abundance of life, big and small. The final leg of our trip will lead us north to experience some of the wonders in central Raja Ampat and the Dampier Strait.


 Photo above: An aerial view of some of the islands around Misool.


This 13 day live aboard aims to showcase the diverse marine life and beauty of Raja Ampat's reef systems while connecting us with something bigger than ourselves. Open your eyes to a new world, using photography as a creative medium we will gain a deeper understanding of our relationship with the ocean. 

 

Throughout this trip, participants will be given the opportunity to delve into the fundamentals of underwater photography and photo editing with Brooke Pyke. The trip will also host a variety of marine life chats and lectures should you wish to learn more about the amazing marine life we are encountering on our dives. This expedition promises a comprehensive and immersive marine wildlife experience whether you're a photographer or passionate diver, this is the trip for you. 

The trip includes everything you need such as: 12 Nights onboard our luxury vessel The Damai I, Twin share accomodation with private ensuite, full board meals, drinks and refreshments, alcohol (beer and wine), massages, laundry, 36x dives, dive gear, tanks and weights, Nitrox, dive guide, photography and editing masterclass, marine park fees, harbour fees, airport transfers and 1x night hotel stay with welcome dinner before boat departure. (see full details by clicking link below).


WANT MORE INFO? BOOK HERE



Photo above: A selection of photos from our Raja Ampat trip in 2024.



Getting There:

The closest airport to Raja Ampat is Sorong. You can fly there from Bali via Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia Airlines. 


Visa:

Eligible countries can obtain a visa on arrival (VOA) which allows you to visit for 30 days. This you can get on arrival to Indonesia for a fee of 500,000 IDR. You need your passport and proof of return flight to obtain a VOA.


Language:

Bahasa Indonesia 

English can be understood in most tourist destinations


Diver Level Needed: For Raja Ampat I would advise you have minimum Advanced Open Water Certification(30m) as many of the dives we did were below 18m. The difficulty varies a lot depending on location but you can expect anything from relaxed easy shallow dives to thrilling drift dives.


Thanks for reading!

B



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