A favourite for divers all around the world, we add to our list, Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Located mainly in the Southeast Asia with some territories in Oceania, Indonesia, officially known as the Republic of Indonesia is a unitary sovereign state.
Indonesia is the world’s largest island country and is situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans. The island itself consists of more than 17,000 islands. It is the world’s 14th largest country in terms of land area and the world’s largest country in terms of combined land and sea area. Being the world’s 4th most populous country, it is home to an estimated population of over 260 million people.
The marine life diversity within west Papua is considerably greater than in all other areas sampled in the coral triangle of Indonesia according to the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Bulletin and scientific surveys. Raja Ampat divers are never disappointed after a dive.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia - The world's most beautiful islands
Raja Ampat is located in Papua, one of the furthest and remote places you can travel to in Indonesia. Known as a diver’s mecca that nobody should miss! The reefs here are pure and described as untouched due to the location of the islands being remote from the nearest towns. The pristine clear water surrounding the islands contain millions of reefs and fish, many of which you will not be able to find anywhere else.
Raja Ampat is a district with a capital, Waisai at Waigeo Island. This town is the starting point for most explorations in the area, as it has both the districts airport and seaport.
Considered to be the global epicentre of tropical marine bio-diversity, Raja Ampat is referred to as The Crown Jewel of the Bird’s Head Seascape.
Holding the world record for the dive site with the largest number of referenced species in one single dive, Cape Kri has earned its place in our top 12. Raja Ampat divers will talk with great enthusiasm about the sheer numbers of fish found here, and it really has earned its reputation.
Many scientists have described Raja Ampat as the richest place for marine life on Earth. The variety and numbers of fish at the eastern point of Kri island really have to be seen to be believed. The biodiversity is simple amazing, with rare and weird underwater creatures in every direction. Over the past few years, many new species have been discovered in the archipelago.
The crossroads of the different currents towards the tip of the island of Kri has created an astonishing variety of fauna and flora. This dive spot will definitely not disappoint its visitors. The number of dive sites within its location is still unknown; this is due to so many parts of the Raja Ampat islands are still yet to be explored.
Located at the north eastern point of Kri Island, this dive location features a wall with a sloping wall. This site is known around the Raja Ampat area to have the widest range of marine life. Huge schools of fish are spotted passing by the reef on a daily basis.
At a depth of 38 metres (124 feet), an ancient snagged anchor can be found at the base of the reef.
Depending on the location, the current may vary from none to strong. Many dives here are drift dives; a spot called the Passage is very impressive when the current there is fierce. It is advised that divers stay deep when diving in order to avoid the surfaces strong currents. A minimum of 50 logged dives is recommended to dive at this location due to there sometimes being very strong currents. Divers must be careful not to be caught by the strong down current on the opposite side of the Cape at the end of each dive.
The depth of this dive ranges from 10 to 40 metres and most of the dives around these islands are at a relevantly easy level for divers, however due to the remoteness of the islands this destination is more suitable to experienced divers.
Due to now being a designated marine biodiversity park, a permit must be purchased for Raja Ampat as to fund the park’s conservation and to help discourage mass tourism; the permit is valid for one year.
It is more than likely that this permit is included in the price if you are joining a diving tour. If it isn’t, don’t worry, permits can be purchased from the tourism offices across from the airport access road which is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm, or at the Waisai Ferry port (open up to half an hour after every ferry arrival). The fee is Rp 500,000 for Indonesian citizens and Rp 1,000,000 for foreigners. Please do also be aware of scams for permit purchases and only buy them at the designated locations. Kri Island, Sardines, is a favourite among the liveaboards of Raja Ampat.
Diving in Raja Ampat is truly something to remember, for it is an underwater heaven for photographers and divers alike. With magnificent hard and soft corals, crystal clear water and reefs rich with life, it has so much to offer all in one location. These islands are teeming with macro life and just about all the critters you can dream of.
The marine life found at this dive location has to be seen in order to be believed. In 2012, a world record of 374 species of fish was counted in the reef on one single dive.
The waters surrounding the islands of Raja Ampats are also great places to see the big fish action with pelagic fish everywhere. These include the giant big-eyed trevally or the dogtooth tuna. Divers can also spot many different species of sharks too, it is common to see blacktip and whitetip reef sharks but there is also a chance to encounter the strange yet beautiful wobbegong shark.
Although very rare, divers have mentioned sightings of dugongs around the area on several occasions. It is common to see playful dolphins, swimming alongside of the dive boats and there is also a good chance for you to spot giant groupers which meet regularly by the reef. In between dives or when you're done for the day, why not try snorkeling Raja Ampat?
With all manner of hard and soft coral varieties, coral growth within the area is extremely impressive and diverse. Snorkeling Raja Ampat is known to be world-class as the islands offer one of the most biodiverse marine environments found on Earth.
If you don't enjoy diving in Raja Ampat, you may as well sell your equipment!
Diving in the Raja Ampats is possible all year long, with water temperature averaging from 27 degrees to 30 degrees throughout the year. As the number of scuba divers visiting this remote area each year, there is no real “high season”.
The islands endure a tropical client with both hot and humid air. The weather is normally sunny all year round with the odd rainy days. From months May to September having more chance of rain than the other months within the year, but nothing too bad.
Not a certified diver? Don't worry, the Raja Ampat snorkeling is just as good! Raja Ampat snorkeling will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable underwater experiences for anyone not yet qualified to dive. But don't let that stop you from getting your dive qualification, there are loads of dive centres that offer courses on the islands.
Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Indonesian Bahasa and local Papua
Currency – Indonesian rupiah
Major Airport – Dominique Edward Osok Airport
Top Attractions – Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point Nature Reserve, Lion's Head
Information link – http://www.indonesia.travel/en/destination/area/raja-ampat