Day 1: Check-in on board MV Mermaid. As our guest arrivals take place all through the day depending on flights, you are welcome to board when you arrive and spend some time unpacking and setting up your equipment, etc. Following the boat and safety briefing, Mermaid will start cruising to the area of Misool. The first cruising will be done overnight, 90 nautical miles.
It is almost impossible to put together a daily itinerary due to the magnificent diving everywhere Mermaid goes. No trip is the same, with so many different sites to visit and explore. If there is somewhere, in particular, you really have your heart set on, please discuss with the Cruise Director who will do their utmost to get you there – conditions, ship, and your safety allowing!
Day 2-6: Misool is the southern island of Raja Ampat. Misool has many groups of islands and there are literally hundreds of dive sites around this magnificent area for all our guests. This is the entrance to divers’ paradise and we will be here for a few days.
Soft coral heaven and gorgeous gorgonian sea fans are the highlights of Misool. Pygmy seahorses are easily found in almost all the dive sites of Misool! Pinnacles and underwater seamounts with masses of fish, and visits of pelagics such as Giant Manta Rays, sharks and more await you in Misool.
Some of the best areas in Misool include Sagof, Wagmab, Farondi, Boo, Fiabacet, Yuliet, Wailbatan, Warakaret, and Pele.
After the third dive of the day in Farondi or Sagof, there is a chance to spend some time going around the lagoons in the dinghy. Enjoy the natural beauty of this area and look for some amazing wildlife. Then, Mermaid will start heading towards the northern part of Raja Ampat.
Day 7-10: Perhaps, you will spend a day around the southern part of Batanta Island, where the diving is done in a black sand environment. This is where all the weird and wonderful creatures that you have seen in coffee table books like to live!
Dive around the island of Kawe, a great place for schooling fish with beautiful reefs covered in black coral bushes and a very good chance to have encounters with Manta Rays.
There is a pearl farm in Aljui Bay, where you can take a tour to learn about the entire process of pearl farming. You can even buy pearls if you wish! Diving in Aljui bay is good for macro as well as wide-angle. You will find walls covered in soft corals and sea fans, lots of nudibranchs, and pygmy seahorses. There is also a great night dive at the jetty where some of the highlights are the Raja Epaulette shark (a species of “walking shark”), wobbegongs, crocodile fish, toadfish, frogfish, and more.
Heading to the central part of Raja Ampat dive around the island of Yanggefo, with beautiful mangrove areas, stunning reefs covered in orange and purple soft corals, and submerged reefs with lots of schooling fish.
Arborek and Sawanderek Villages are some of the most beautiful islands to visit and great to dive under their jetty! The jetty pillars are covered in soft corals – a photographer’s delight and also good for macros such as signal gobies, nudibranchs, pipefish, blue-ringed octopus, and more.
The Mantas are then calling Mermaid to visit the famous Dampier Strait in the central part of Raja Ampat. Here Mantas hang out at their cleaning stations along with all the schooling fish that the sites have to offer. At some of the sites in the Dampier Strait, the macro marine life is amazing with critters such as the sea moth, Pontohi pygmy seahorse, pipefish, and more.
The Dampier Strait is also well known for an incredible amount of schooling fish. There are several pinnacles with zillions of fish. The tips (capes) of several islands are also home to lots of schooling fish – barracudas, bigeye jacks, snappers, zillions of fusiliers and surgeonfish, and much more. As if that weren’t enough, here you can find lots of wobbegongs too.
Day 11: The last two dives of your cruise will be done in the Dampier Strait area, where big schools of fish and glorious corals are simply amazing! After the second dive, MV Mermaid must go back to Sorong. The crew will take care of rinsing your equipment and there’s time to pack during this 5 – 6-hour run.
Day 12: After breakfast, the Mermaid staff will transfer you to the airport.
This is a sample itinerary and is subject to changes beyond the operator’s control. The exact itinerary, route, and amount of dives for your cruise may be adapted to best suit the weather conditions, tides and currents, season, and other prevailing events.
Raja Ampat has been documented as one of the last frontiers of unspoiled diving. The archipelago’s pristine reefs are not only rich but the region also proves to have the greatest coral reef biodiversity for its size in the world. Raja Ampat holds 600 islands and reefs, 1,320 fish species, 550 coral species and all that is yet to be discovered.
Raja Ampat is the seascape’s crown jewel. Fittingly, the name means “four kings.” The four main islands or “Kings” of the archipelago: Waigeo in the north, Salawati west of Sorong, Batanta north of Salawati, and Misool in the south.
Visit Waigeo and dive the famous Dampier Strait, some of Raja Ampat´s most action-packed dive sites. Exhilarating current dives and reliable manta cleaning stations where you can experience these majestic giant pelagics dance for hours along with many other treasures such as the tasseled wobbegong shark.
Dive the beautiful and unique mangrove areas of Yanggefo and Gam islands where the tips of healthy Acropora corals contrast with the lush green of the mangroves making excellent split images, while just beneath the surface schools of archerfish hunt among the forest of mangrove roots. Batanta Island, known for its excellent muck diving and an amazing variety of nudibranchs including the endemic Thecacera sp. Black sand slopes full of wonderful critters and frequent sightings of the rare mimic octopus. Misool area in southern Raja Ampat is a must for those who enjoy radiant colored soft corals. There are stunning walls, pinnacles, and reefs with masses of huge gorgonian fans and sea fans hosting an array of the famous pygmy seahorses. The vast area and variety of dive sites make it the ideal location to be discovered via liveaboard.