The scuba diving on the Raja Ampat Islands is considered some of the best in the world. Raja Ampat consists of 1,500 small shoals, cays, and isles that make up an archipelago encompassing the four main islands of Salawati, Batanta, Misool, and Waigeo in Indonesia. This area is especially known for its shark action, large schools of fish, warm water, manta rays, drift dives, and macro specimens, just to name a few. Here, we break down valuable information to help you book your next diving trip to one of the most majestic places on Earth.
Best Dive Sites
With so many beautiful and varied dives to choose from, it can be hard to pick which to fit in to your trip. Some of our favorites include:
- Blue Magic– This is considered one of the famous of the Raja Ampat dives. It starts at about 7 meters and goes down to 30 meters. You can see manta rays, large schools of fish, cleaning stations, sharks, and pygmy seahorses.
- Mioskun– This is a good one to start with. There is an amazing coral reef that goes all the way down to 25 meters deep. The currents are pretty light, making this a great dive for beginner to intermediate divers. You will also get to see giant clams, yellow snappers, groupers, morays, seahorses, and wobbegong sharks.
- Arborek Jetty– This jetty is densely packed with schools of fish. There really is nothing else like it. There are so many fish that, at times, they completely block out the light and will swim around you so close they touch your skin. Free diving or snorkeling work well here too as it only goes down to about 10 meters.
- Sardine Reef– This is the site of a large, ovular, underwater pinnacle that has a reef at the top and gently sloping sides down to a sand bed. The current flows down both the north and south sides of the flanks. There are lots of sharks at this location, including black tipped reef sharks, grey reef sharks, and white tipped reef sharks. There are also large schools of sardines, damsels, butterfly fish, fusiliers, sweet lips, and snappers. Large predators are also in the area and consist of Spanish mackerel, barracuda, and giant trevallies.
- Melissa’s Garden– If you are hoping to see the wobbegong shark on your trip, then this is the place to dive. Melissa’s Garden is located in the Jet Fam Islands, which is on the west side of Bantanta Island. You can also see maroon clownfish, manta rays, and great barracuda at this location.
- Cape Kri– Cape Kri has an incredible array of species that are visible on one dive, so much so that it holds the world record! Think of a wide variety of schools of fish, many types of sharks, smaller flora and fauna for macro enthusiasts, and a huge range of coral types to appease any type of diver.
- Keruo Channel– The Keuro Channel runs between sheer cliff faces on both sides You can do the dive either direction depending on the way the current is flowing. Try to stay at 25 meters and float along as you see nudibranchs and sponges on the sides of the cliff. There are also some beautiful reefs to check out as well.
Raja Ampat Diving Resorts
Staying at a resort while on your diving trip is a great way to go, because most resorts include diving, room and board, and airport transfers. Tried and tested locations include:
- Kri Eco Resorts– Built in 1994, this was the first diving resort created in Raja Ampat. It has 14 standard water cottages and one deluxe water cottage. The simple lounge and dining areas are also over the sea so that the water is never far from your mind. There is also free WiFi and laundry available. The staff includes local shark-finning fishermen and marine environmentalists to give you a knowledgeable experience during your stay. Additionally, Nitrox is free for Nitrox-certified divers with the unlimited scuba passage.
- Misool Eco Resort– The Misool Eco Resort has the winning combination of being eco-friendly, located in a remarkable, remote location, and having great diving locations nearby. It also happens to sit on its own private island. All of this is reflected in the Tourism for Tomorrow Award it was given by the World Travel & Tourist Council. In total, there are 19 villas and cottages complete with air-conditioning, fans, Balinese style bathrooms, and hammocks, to name a few amenities. The dining service is of a very high quality. Indonesian, English, German, Italian, French, and Swedish are all spoken at this resort. Additionally, Nitrox is free for all Nitrox-certified divers. Finally, it has been named a Mission Blue Host Spot for its conservation efforts.
- Papua Explorers Resort– Papua Explorers Resort is the number one rated resort on TripAdvisor by guests in the Raja Ampat area. It features 14 room choices that are constructed using traditional Papuan methods and natural materials. Amenities include airport transportation, breakfast service, laundry, a multilingual staff, a relaxing spa, restaurant, bar-lounge area, and free WiFi.
- Raja Ampat Biodiversity Eco Resort– This is an intimate resort, with only eight rooms. The owners, Rey and Patricia, really aim to make you feels at home and provide the best holiday possible. The resort is eco-friendly and includes perks such as airport transportation, breakfast, laundry service, multilingual staff, free internet, and a restaurant.
- Papua Paradise Eco Resort– This 4-star hotel features 25 rooms and combines service with the utmost comfort to make it an unforgettable holiday. Rooms include hot and cold showers, hammocks, coffee and tea facilities, comfortable beds with bed veils, and cushioned deck chairs. Other amenities include airport transportation, breakfast, laundry service, multilingual staff, and a restaurant. This is one of the only PADI dive resorts in the Raja Ampat area. All dive experiences operate to the highest safety and professional standards, with a four divers to one guide ratio. They have four vessels that they use for dives, which they include drinking water, coffee/tea and cakes, fresh towels, and the latest safety equipment.
Climate and Best Time to Visit
Although some resorts and diving are open year round, visiting is recommended from Mid-September to early May in order to avoid the monsoon season. Also, keep in mind that December and January are considered the second rainy season, but are not “monsoon level”. Due to microclimates, the weather can be different from island to island, hour by hour. Outside of monsoon season, rain usually occurs in short periods, about five minutes to an hour, after which the blue skies and sunshine peek out again.
Raja Ampat spans the equator and is considered a tropical climate. The humidity in the region averages about 83% as a result. The daytime average maximum temperature is 32℃ (91℉) with a nightly minimum of 25℃ (78)℉. In general, the coasts are warm and muggy, while and the mountainous regions are cooler. There are just over 12 hours of daylight everyday.
A Trip of a Lifetime
A trip to the Raja Ampat Islands should be on any serious scuba diver’s bucket list. With warm waters, amazing bio-diversity, and luxurious, remote resorts, it truly is a trip of a lifetime!