If you are a seasoned scuba diver, then you have surely heard of the unparalleled diving opportunities that await at the Raja Ampat Islands. In fact, the diving is often considered some of the best in the world. With 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, there is no shortage of amazing underwater adventures to embark upon. Here, we break down valuable information to help you book your next diving trip to this spectacular location at just the right time of year to ensure the best weather possible.
Although some resorts and diving are open year round, visiting is recommended from October to April in order to avoid 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. However, if you find that you can only organize your trip between May and September, while you may experience some rain, it is not nearly the high levels of precipitation that can occur in Thailand, Bali, and Malaysia.
Raja Ampat spans the equator and is considered a tropical climate. The humidity in the region averages about 83% as a result, so there are not different seasons the way there are further North or South in the hemispheres. The daytime average maximum temperature is 32℃ (91℉) with a nightly minimum of 25℃ (78)℉. The ocean temperature is nice and warm as well, with an average surface temperature of 29℃ (84)℉. In general, the coasts are warm and muggy, while and the mountainous regions are cooler. There are just over 12 hours of daylight every day.
During monsoon season, strong winds can occur, which makes traveling by the sea potentially uncomfortable. While this does not affect underwater visibility, it can make traveling by small boat choppy or even limit the destinations you can go. The wind is often worse in the mornings and can die down by the afternoon. If you do go diving when it’s windy, there may be strong currents. If this is the case, you should consider reef hooks to stay in place. Alternatively, an open-water ascent may be required. A safety sausage is also a great idea so that boat tenders can identify a potentially drifting diver. If you do travel during mid-June to mid-September, staying on the Northern part of the islands can help alleviate some of the wind. Overall, the best time to dive is when the wind is low to zero.
The visibility varies day-to-day at Raja Ampat. There is no best time for visibility. A good way to circumvent bad visibility though is to take a trip on a liveaboard that can easily travel from one diving location to the next. So if one spot does not seem clear, your group can easily move onto to a better location.
Helpful Websites and Apps
While you are visiting Raja Ampat, it is important to stay on top of the weather reports to plan out the best diving itinerary possible. The following websites and apps will prove very helpful with this:
- Windy.com for wind and temperature tracking- https://www.windy.com/?-0.747,130.364,6
- Windy App for wind measurements, tide times, and wave heights- https://windyapp.co
- Wunderground for watching the weather- https://www.wunderground.com/weather/id/sorong
- SeaTemperature.info for checking out the sea temperature- :https://seatemperature.info/raja-ampat-islands-water-temperature.html
The Raja Ampat Islands are indeed one of the most magical locations on Earth. However, even the most beautiful places have stormy days. With this information, you can plan a trip at the ideal time of year to have the best weather possible for your diving adventure. But don’t worry, all of the planning is absolutely worth it!