Raja Ampat is right in the heart of the Coral Triangle and has over 1,500 islands. Many scientists believe Raja Ampat has the most coral and fish diversity in the world! Raja means King and Ampat means Four – Four Kings. The four kings are the main islands in Raja Ampat – Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool.
Starting from Sorong in West Papua, we head south to Misool. Misool’s small surrounding islands are soft coral paradise and another area of Raja Ampat. With its abundance of stunning dive sites and the natural beauty of karst limestone, jungle-clad islands, this area invites us to linger for several days.
Misool can be divided into many areas where we can spend the whole day at a selection of amazing dive sites. Daram is in the very east of these islands and has inviting names such as Candy Store, Andiamo, and Warna Berwarna (meaning Colourful Colour!) The sea fans forests here have to be seen to be believed!
In the iconic areas of Boo, Fiabecet, and Yuliet, we look through the iconic Boo Windows, with tonnes of fish surrounding us. We explore fabulous dive sites like Shadow Reef (aka Magic Mountain), Nudibranch Rock, Batu Kecil, Whale Rock, Boo West Corner and Yuliet Kecil. And if we are lucky, we see the majestic Giant and Reef Manta rays around here. Admire large coral heads covered in soft corals, maybe spotting the famous Santa Clause Pygmy Seahorse, while schools of Barracudas and Batfish might pass by. Our eagle-eyed dive masters will look for a ‘Walking Shark’ (Epaulette Shark) on a night dive at Romeo.
Sagof, Wagmab, Farondi offer us stunning underwater walls, overhangs, and cave structures plus amazing macros, such as Nudibranchs, Flatworms, Anemone Crabs, and all kinds of shrimps. In this area, we have the opportunity to visit the wonderful Lagoons, a must-see place, with its iconic bee-hive-shaped karst limestone formations and hard coral colonies at the bases of these amazing geological structures. If the tide is high enough our crew will take you to the secret bay right at the back!
There are also lagoons at Wayilbatan, including the Love Lagoon. The hike up the steep stairs is well worth the view. A drift dive through a channel covered in sea fans at Neptune Fan Sea is the perfect place to cool off after the hot walk. Wedding Cake and Barracuda Rock are other stunning dive sites in this area.
It is a long crossing up to Penemu, so on the last day of diving in Misool, we will do two dives before heading north. Famous Melissa’s Garden awaits us with its spectacular, healthy, and wide-spread hard coral plateau in the shallows. At Keruo Wall, we can admire large gorgonian sea fans and lovely reef tops, and we might also explore My Reef and Batu Rufus. A short hike to the viewpoint of Penemu offers a spectacular view of the lagoons and their surrounding islands.
The following day will be spent on the western tip of Gam island, at an island called Yangeffo, which protects a sheltered bay. This small area has multiple world-class dive sites. Famous ones like Citrus Ridge and Mayhem always amaze divers with their vibrancy and biodiversity. The area here is probably so abundant due to the surrounding mangroves. Beautiful hard and soft corals grow under and among the roots of the trees, so a dive at Mangrove Ridge is truly enjoyable. And our crew will be happy to take you out in the dingy to snorkel in the mangroves in between dives. Sunsets and sunrises are very special at our mooring point at Yangeffo: as the sun drops, the surrounding forested hills become alive with flocks of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo’s and Blyth’s Hornbills emerge to return to their roosting places.
The remainder of our adventure will be spent diving in the Dampier Strait. We will select the best dives sites for the experience of the divers and according to the current and weather conditions. Here, you can expect to dive at some world-class, adrenalin-packed dive sites such as Cape Kri, Chicken Reef, Sleeping Barracuda, Sardine Reef, Mioskon, and Blue Magic. Our guides can take you to places where the current meets the reef head-on, where you can witness predatory fish like black tip, white tip and grey reef sharks, giant trevally, Spanish mackerel, and dogtooth tuna hunting huge schools of smaller fish like fusiliers and big eye jacks. Seamounts and long reefs offer this hunting action as well as sightings of bump head parrotfish, napoleon wrasse, turtles, and manta rays.
At the other end of the Dampier Strait is the island of Arborek with a great jetty dive. Lalosi is a drift dive completely full of fusiliers and with a chance to see wobbegong sharks. The well-known manta aggregation sites of Manta Sandy and Manta Ridge are also in this area. Sawandarek is on the island of Mansuar and the dive on the reef and jetty in from of the village is a fantastic dive. You can also visit Papua Explorer’s coral restoration project here. For those interested, we can take a walk around the village at Sawandarek or Arborek.
Our last day will offer two more action-packed dives in the Dampier Strait. We can also arrange for a bird-watching trip on the last morning to see the enigmatic and endemic Red Bird of Paradise. After lunch, we make our way back to Sorong for hearty goodbyes.
Please note: this is a sample itinerary. Itineraries may change without further notice due to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.
The last dive will be on the penultimate day of the trip. Divers are recommended to wait for 24hours before flying after the last dive