Diving Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat lies in West Papua in eastern Indonesia and is an area made up of hundreds of lush islands. Raja Ampat translates as ‘the four kings’ which is what the four main islands of Salawati, Bantanta, Waigeo and Misool are referred to. It’s one of Indonesia's most beautiful regions and while popular with scuba divers it maintains a remote unexplored beauty.
Here, divers can find some of the most beautiful coral reefs, which are famed for their rich diversity and are among Indonesia’s best. Whether you’re a macro hunter or a big-picture reef scape gawker, you’ll find abundance. The location is a photographer's dream but, camera or not, expect manta rays, wobbegong sharks, walking sharks, reef sharks, turtles, schooling fish, pygmy seahorse, mackerel, tuna, barracuda and a variety of colourful nudibranchs.
DIVING SUITABLE FOR
Raja Ampat’s glorious marine life is fed by currents which sweep around its islands. For this reason, diving is more suitable for qualified and experienced divers, particularly if you opt to explore the area by liveaboard. If you want to learn to dive in this spectacular environment, it's possible on a land based trip, so opt for a dive resort instead.
Raja Ampat’s colossal abundance cannot be overestimated, and divers and snorkellers alike will be mesmerised to the diversity on offer. Often, dive resorts have a superb range of dive sites on their doorstep to explore starting with a house reef that’s ideal for snorkelling, while liveaboards explore more of this vast region.
The Misool, in southern Raja Ampat, brings chaotic colour and macro madness. Mansuar is a manta and turtle heaven, while Waigeo is all about that frenetic reef bustle. Everywhere you look is colourful, busy and a kaleidoscope of variety.
Raja Ampat can be dived all year round, but the best conditions are October to April, with the least wind and calmest seas being October and November. Due to the size of the area, small regional variations can occur.
THINGS TO DO IN RAJA AMPAT
Raja Ampat is no less stunning above the water line. The scattered islands bedecked with lush jungle vegetation, picture-perfect sandy beaches and luxury resorts with overwater bungalows offer some truly stunning scenes. You can explore more of the topside attractions by kayak or on nature walks. Raja Ampat’s birdlife is also spectacular, with two species of birds of paradise endemic. Cockatoos, parrots, hornbills, shelducks and beach kingfishers can all be spotted too.
Raja Ampat is remote. Sorong Airport serves the area and this lies just 10 minutes from the port that will connect you by boat to your chosen destination.
Connections to Sorong leave from Jakarta, Denpasar (Bali) or Makassar and Manado, and these major gateways open up numerous opportunities for operators serving all major UK and European Airports.
Gangga Divers at the Papua Paradise Eco Resort
Gangga Divers at the Papua Paradise Eco Resort offers a very high standard of professional dive services.
Dive groups are at most four guests to one dive guide, so that everyone can enjoy the superb diving.
Nitrox is available free of charge to those certified. For those not certified, Gangga Divers is a PADI 5-star resort, which means it offers a full range of PADI courses.
New or very well-maintained Aqualung dive equipment can be hired. 8, 12, and 15-litre aluminium tanks are available with DIN or international fitting.
You’ll appreciate the locked storage facility if you bring your gear. Storage crates, rinse tanks, and a drying area are also provided.
Photographers and videographers will love the padded camera trolleys that allow you to wheel your equipment safely and effortlessly from room to dive centre. There’s even an air-conditioned dedicated camera room with workstations within the dive centre.
To ensure a great dive experience, Gangga divers have 10 small fibreglass boats. Most take a maximum of 5 divers, and all have silent engines, which minimises intrusion and maximises your enjoyment of the reef. Towels, fresh water, tea and coffee, fruit, and snacks are onboard, and each boat has full safety equipment onboard.
Combined scuba diving and accommodation packages are available for stays of 7 nights or longer. Please enquire for a holiday price.
Dive into Raja Ampat
Guests using Dive into Raja Ampat’s dive centre will love the newly upgraded facilities and both new and upgraded boats.
Photographers and videographers more than have their needs met. The dive centre boasts a dedicated camera room with workstations. The centre has lockable dive gear storage. All tanks are 12 litre aluminium with DIN valve and adaptors are available. Nitrox is currently not available.
The usual dive schedule comprises 2 dives in the morning, a return to the resort for lunch, and then another dive in the afternoon, with around 30 dives sites in close proximity to the resort.
Combined scuba diving and accommodation packages are available for stays of just 3 nights or longer and can be combined with a liveaboard. Please enquire for a holiday price.
Raja Ampat is tropical and lies on the equator, and enjoys a year round temperature of 30 degrees. October and November are the stillest months. The area's lushness means rainfall, and the majority of this falls between May and September, with June and July being the wettest months. December and January are often referred to as the area's second monsoon, as they can be just as wet. That said, rainfall is short-lived and passes as fast as it arrives.
Water Temperature & Visibility
The average water temperature is between 28°C-30°C, meaning a 5mm suit is ideal.
Visibility is variable, and the area will treat you to twinkling visibility and sparkling oceans – perfect for diving some of the richest reefs on Earth - but do be prepared for lower visibility too.
Raja Ampat is +9 hours GMT.
Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Approximate rates:
- £1 = 18,000IDR
- €1 = 16,000 IDR
- $1 = 13,000 IDR
It’s advisable to exchange a little money before you leave so that you do have some currency when you arrive. ATMs are available at the airport, as are exchange services.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, and tap and contactless technologies are expanding all the time. That said, if you want to spend money supporting local and traditional enterprises, be prepared with cash.
International flights from main UK and European airports serve Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali) where connections will take you to Sorong. From Sorong, boat transfers will take you to resorts or connect you with your liveaboard vessel.
Note that Sorong is also served by a direct flight from Manado which offers an interesting opportunity for those wishing to dive in Bunaken.
Passports & Visas
When travelling to Indonesia, you should have at least 6 months validity on your passport. British nationals and nationals of nearly 100 nations are eligible for a 30-day visa for Indonesia, which you can access this on arrival, but the most efficient way is to apply online beforehand. Pay and receive your QR code, which speeds your entry process. An online customs declaration is also required; again this can be completed in the days before you arrive, speeding up your flow through the airport.
There are no compulsory vaccinations but standard protection against typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and polio is advisable. Always confirm current recommendations with a travel clinic or GP and take advice concerning malaria. Remember that your stay in Raja Ampat will take you away from major healthcare centres. Ensure you have the medications that you need, and consider taking emergency supplies of medications if you are prone to specific ailments.