Scuba Dive and Travel: Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Travel

If you’re looking for the best diving spots in Indonesia, look no further. Raja Ampat is one of the best places to dive. This region is also home to some of the most incredible marine life. At every site, you can expect to see amazing and colorful fish, coral, and sea life. There are several reasons why Raja Ampat is one of the top scuba diving destinations in Asia.

First and foremost, it boasts some of the clearest water in all Southeast Asia. The second reason is that there are many types of marine life found here, including whale sharks and manta rays. Did you know that Raja Ampat holds the world record for the dive site with the most diversity of fishes? To wrap it all up, water is always around 28 °C, what makes it perfect for scuba diving comfortably.

History and culture of Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is an Indonesian province located in the Maluku Islands. You can expect to visit the only province in Indonesia that is made up of three districts: Sorong, Selayar, and Waigeo. Raja Ampat has a rich history and culture that dates back to 500 AD! In fact, the name Raja Ampat comes from the name of a Raja (prince) who was given the province by his father.

What you MUST do while in Raja Ampat

Pianemo karst islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia - Photo By sutirta budiman on Unsplash
Pianemo karst islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia – Photo By sutirta budiman on Unsplash

Scuba diving in Raja Ampat is one of the best things to do while you’re in this region. There are some amazing dive sites here and the marine life is incredible. But there’s more to do in Raja Ampat than just scuba dive!

Do not, under any circumstances, skip Piaynemo Hill. This is where you will be able to see Raja Ampat in its full splendor. To hike up to Piaynemo Hill you’ll have to climb 300 stairs, but totally worth it. On a clear day, you can see all main islands in Raja Ampat as well as the smaller islands that make up this archipelago. The hill is also a great place to watch the sun set or rise over the water. If you are scuba diving, it is most likely that this will be included in one of your day trips.

Be sure to watch the sunset and sunrise whenever you can. The colors are something to behold and make for a perfect backdrop to your vacation photos. The sunsets are usually a fiery orange or red, and watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon is a wonderful way to end your day in paradise.

Finally, visit Waigeo Island. Great snorkeling opportunities with lots of colorful fish and urchins among other marine life. The island also boasts an amazing beach where if you’re lucky, you might spot a dugong! These activities are only a small sampling of what you can do in Raja Ampat.

What is gastronomy like in Raja Ampat

Gastronomy in Raja Ampat is as experience that depends pretty much on your stay. If you are in a resort, this will guarantee you more variety and options that you are more familiar with. However, if you are staying in a guesthouse or villa, there is typically a limited variety of food and drinks to choose from.

Satay, a Indonesian skewered meat, grilled and served with sauce - Photo By Akharis Ahmad on Unsplash
Satay, a Indonesian skewered meat, grilled and served with sauce – Photo By Akharis Ahmad on Unsplash

Breakfast is the meal that is the most surprising (and least satisfying) for many tourists. Not the biggest meal of the day, and usually composed of fried food like bananas, yams plantains. For those that are used to ingest a lot of protein when waking up, be advised.

Lunch might consist of a bowl of steaming hot rice accompanied by some chicken or fish. Tempeh and tofu are also common ingredients in Indonesian cuisine, so they may make an appearance at some homestays.

As for dinner, most Indonesians enjoy a large dinner, typically a larger version of lunch. Freshly cooked fish or chicken and steamed rice served with local vegetables. Nasi goreng (fried rice), satay (grilled meat on skewers), and ayam bakar (barbecued chicken) are popular dishes that are often eaten for dinner.

Best time to scuba dive in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is a great destination all year round. As an equatorial country, temperature is steady around 30°C. That keeps the water temperature around 28°C, a perfect temperature for diving. That are great news for those who like to dive without a wetsuit.

Rain and wind season is from June to September, so it can be a different experience than the rest of the year. The seas can get choppier, so it may be hard for those who get seasick.

But during these months, the area sees significantly less divers. This means that for those looking for an uncrowded dive experience, this could be the best time of year to get there.

What can you expect to see while scuba diving in Raja Ampat?

Spotted Wobbegong. They are found in the western pacific and eastern indian ocean - Photo By John Turnbull on Flickr
Spotted Wobbegong. They are found in the western pacific and eastern indian ocean – Photo By John Turnbull on Flickr

Raja Ampat have the world’s richest coral reefs, you’ll have the opportunity to see a wide variety of marine life. There are more than 1.200 species of fish, coral and mollusks that can be found here.

With such a diverse marine life, you can expect to see huge schools of fishes and sharks, including the rare wobbegong. Mantas and turtles are also commom sights, and it is not uncommon to see dolphins from the boat.

What are the best dive sites in Raja Ampat

With so many teeming with marine life, it can be hard to choose the best dive sites. Home to the biggest marine diversity on Earth, every dive site is a wonder. But, there are some dive sites that figures in virtually every diver as one of the bests in Raja Ampat.

Blue Magic

Manta ray at a cleaning station, Raja Ampat, Indonesia - Photo By Swanson Chan on Unsplash
Manta ray at a cleaning station, Raja Ampat, Indonesia – Photo By Swanson Chan on Unsplash

Manta rays congregate at Blue Magic, an underwater pinnacle that rises from the sea floor at 30 meters. The cleaning station is a popular spot for divers, as these magnificent creatures can be seen up close. They swim slowly around the pinnacle, making an amazing sight to behold!

Cape Kri

Cape Kri holds the record of the highest diversity of fish on a single dive. In 2012, Gerald R. Allen counted 374 different species. The confluence of currents here creates a fertile ground for a great variety of species. It is highly probable to encounter different sharks that come here to feast. Wobbegongs can be seen, as well as massive schools of fish, like trevally and fusiliers.

Sardine Reef

This dive site has over 200 meters of a circular natural elevation that starts at the sea floor at 25 meters and rise up to 5 meters below the surface. On top of it, there are many fishes hiding among the corals that cover densely this structure. Such diversity attracts predators like giant trevallies, barracudas, triggerfishes. There is a chance of seeing scorpion fishes and the famous wobbegong hiding into some fissures.

Four Kings

Named in a tribute to four pinnacles that rises from 30 meters below the water, this is the most well known dive site in Raja Ampat. A ridge connects three of the pinnacles, making this place crowded with countless sea creatures. A great dive site for beginners and experienced diver. You can usually see turtles here, as well as fish like trevally and barracudas.

What to do after a day of diving in Raja Ampat

A typical homestay at Manyaifun Village, in Raja Ampat, Indonesia - Photo By Trekpedition.Com on Flickr
A typical homestay at Manyaifun Village, in Raja Ampat, Indonesia – Photo By Trekpedition.Com on Flickr

After a day of diving in Raja Ampat, there is a lot to be done. Explore nearby villages and get to know locals. If you are feeling adventurous, enjoy a traditional meal at a local restaurant. With over 1.500 islands, there is a lot to be explored. Go for a hike in the forest, and watch wildlife. There are some endemic species, and Raja Ampat is a great place for birdwatching. If you are feeling lazy, I bet you will find a beach to call your own and relax.

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