Raja Ampat Diving
Diving Papua Barat, Indonesia
Papua Barat (previously Irian Jaya Barat and also known as West Papua) makes up the western half of New Guinea Island. Papau New Guinea makes up the eastern part. At the north western end Papua Barat is Bird’s Head Peninsula and the islands that make up the Raja Ampat archipelago. It’s an expansive area that includes some of Indonesia’s and the World’s best diving.
The town of Sorong is the usual start point for Raja Ampat diving by liveaboard and a liveaboard is the ideal way to dive the archipelago because it is such a big area. There are also resorts at Waigeo Island and Misool Island.
Raja Ampat liveaboards are often booked up well in advance and getting to Sorong requires more planning than the average package holiday but divers that make the effort are richly rewarded. This really is off the beaten track diving.
The Raja Ampat area has a low population density and locals still use traditional fishing methods. That plus the inaccessibility to the area has helped to keep the reefs in pristine condition. Scientific surveys have found more species diversity in Raja Ampat than anywhere else in the Coral Triangle, the Philippines or PNG.
The diving is varied with gently sloping fringing reefs to deep vertical drop offs. There are pinnacles, plateaus, wrecks and muck dives. Large schools of pelagics are seen, especially schools of jacks and manta rays. Turtles are common. Raja Ampat is also fantastic for finding all sorts of critters. Dolphins are often seen from the boat and pods of whales sometimes pass by.
Currents are strong on occasion. Visibility is usually excellent at 20-40 metres. Raja Ampat has a year round diving season although the best time to dive is October to May when the sea conditions and wind are optimal.