Raja Ampat is a unique area of extraordinary beauty and diversity, offering some of the best scuba diving in Indonesia. Read on for a firsthand account, by one of our past customers, of a three-day Raja Ampat Liveaboard, with sightings of the elusive Walking Shark, the charismatic Wobbegong Shark, a pregnant Toad Fish, Giant Clams, and Manta Rays, to name just a few of the wonders we encounter on our epic Raja Ampat Diving adventure!
What is a ‘Muck’ Dive?
We woke up around the beautiful islands of Batanta, the smallest of the “Four Kings”. The first two of our four dives are well known for being awesomely rich in critters, otherwise known as ‘muck’ dives. Both Pulau Yum and Wruwarez slope presented us, amongst other things, with a galore of nudi’s, wart slugs, flatworms, turtles and a robust ghost pipefish…as well as some other unknown creatures, as it happens with muck dives.
Onto Reef Dives and Wobbegong Sharks
Our first reef dive at Larry’s Promise, indeed promising, was a sublime drift from the east to the west of the island that looks like a pineapple submerged in the water. We not only saw a blacktip reef shark, but also the first Wobbegong shark of the trip! A big pickhandle barracuda was having a clean near the reef and the whole area was teeming with schools of bannerfish, redtooth triggerfish, fusiliers, angelfish, anthias and damsels, as well as an array of beautiful soft and hard corals.
The last dive of this day was a sunset / night dive at Pulau Dayang, a relatively steep slope with beautiful corals, huge lobsters, small crabs, lion fish and, of course, parrot fish sleeping in the crevices. Afterwards, we went to the ranger station on Pulau Dayang to see the very big and vibrantly colored coconut crabs. The beach and jungle were full of an array of brilliantly colored crabs. And, in waters as little as one meter deep, we could see a thriving seascape of giant clams, flatworms, crabs and diverse coral. Absolutely amazing!
Drift Throughs and Sea Fans of Raja Ampat
Our third day began, like many others, in epic wonder. Like many of the Raja Ampat dive sites, Pulau Dayang is unique and characterized by a channel and fast drift. Near the beginning, the reef slope had beautiful sea fans and a steep sloping bottom. Coming towards the corner, the current picked up as expected and we were then properly drifting! What a feeling–like a bird soaring through stunningly beautiful coral ledges, mountains and slopes–it was an incredible way to greet the day!
Underwater Mountain Ledges and Sharks
Karang Bata, our second dive, was an underwater mountain ledge about 1 km long. There was nearly no current, which made both the top plateau and the deeper edges very easy to dive. I think it took no more than a minute to find the first black tip reef shark cruising by. Followed by many more both white and black tip reef sharks, and even a grey reef shark! Some groups saw a wobbegong, others found a school of Black Fin Barracuda. And everyone saw a huge variety of soft and hard corals and plentiful fish life, combined with excellent 20m visibility! For the third dive, we visited Keruo Channel which features sea fans and a stunning shallow coral reef. Another black tip reef shark made an appearance, a Pygmy Seahorse Denise was found and, again, we saw a stunning amount of coral and fish life.
Raja Ampat Diving: Land of the Blue-Spotted Sting Rays and Coral Gardens
Our last dive was at sunset in Melissa’s Garden, a shallow area covered in beautiful soft corals, lobsters, nudi’s and banded boxer shrimps. We found a toadfish with twenty babies under its belly! In this enchanted garden, the true beauty of the reef revealed itself…fish everywhere, lots of brightly colored damsels, fusiliers, another wobbegong shark, black tip reef sharks and a pygmy sea horse. We saw numerous Napoleon wrasse, an abundance of pufferfishes, triggerfishes, scorpionfish and blue spotted sting rays. After Galaxy Reef, we explored the lagoon and amazing islands of massive coconut trees and glistening blue water. We even witnessed three mantas getting cleaned! One male black morph and two female chevron mantas shared their majesty with us.
Into the Dark Depths and the Famous Walking Shark
Diving Raja Ampat would not be complete without a night dive, an utterly unreal experience. About thirty pipefish gathered together on the sand, beautiful brightly pink and yellow nudibranchs, a stunningly pretty flatworm, loads of scorpion fish, an octopus and the famous walking shark! Raja Ampat has a good amount of endemic species (species only found in this region). Of the more than 1,400 species of reef fish here, nineteen are endemic to the waters of Raja Ampat. More than 550 corals are present, of which 20 are endemic. Last but not least, we got to see one of the special ones, the epaulette, or walking shark. And it walked!