Raja Ampat, Indonesia’s Four Kings, sits high atop the list of greatest dive destinations on the planet. As the literal heart of marine biodiversity, nowhere on earth comes close to the number of species swimming through and growing on the reefs of Raja Ampat. We were fortunate enough to spend three years working the Raja Ampat dive seasons on Kararu’s liveaboards and are intimately familiar with the region.
For our back-to-back 10 night trips to Raja Ampat we chartered the Indo Siren. A phinisi style liveabaord the Indo Siren is well suited to the surroundings, blending in with the dramatic backdrop of tropical karst islands.
Raja Ampat is typically explored in two segments, the northern Dampier Strait and Wayag areas and the southern Misool island chain. We began our trips by heading south being rewarded with stellar conditions of extremely good visibility and lots of fish! The biomass of the Misool region has increased dramatically (4x over 4 years according to environmentalist and partner in Misool Eco Resort Sean Heinrichs) since becoming a Marine Protected Area in 2009.
Having hundreds of dives in Misool since 2006 we can definitely confirm that there are way more fish than before…way more. The health of the reefs has also increased with fewer shallow areas showing anchor damage from small fishing boats.
Misool is one of the most resplendent soft coral color displays anywhere.
On a newly discovered site, Antichovies, we were able to interact with large shoals of silversides as the pulsed back and forth over the pinnacles.
Wobbegong sharks are one of the more frequently spotted varieties of shark in Raja Ampat.
After an amazing Misool experience we headed north into the Dampier Strait and dive one of our favorite spots – Aerborek Jetty. Not just amazing for the large school of scad and the candy colored soft corals dripping from the pilings, the jetty is famous for the local kids that never seem to run out of energy, divign down to stare into photographers domeports as we flash away.
Farther north we stopped in the Waigeo area to shoot the local population nicely organized sweetlips as well as swim back into the mangroves.
In Aljuie Bay on Waigeo we found one of the coolest looking frogfish around and a swimming pygmy seahorse…
Raja Ampat is the destination that it is for good reason. After years of diving Raja Ampat we never tire of the amazing and unique areas and are constantly diving new sites. We’ve got more trips planned so come join us on our next trip!
Big thanks to the crew of the Indo Siren and our fantastic guests!