Diving spot in Raja Ampat

Diving Spot in Raja Ampat, Indonesia 
Cape Kri
Divers are amazed at the amount of fish they can see at Cape Kri. They ascent from their first dive there at burst into excited conversation about the sheer diversity. Gerald R. Allen, renowned marine biologist said after a dive at Cape Kri that "this is the most fishes ever seen on a single dive over a craeer spanning almost 30 years." He counted 283 fish species on that dive!

Of course much of that diversity is made up of similar species. There are many different varieties of reef fish including snapper, fusilier, sweetlips, butterflyfish and angelfish. Large schools of reef fish literally engulf divers as they fin over the reef.

What gets most divers excited though, is the big schools of chevron barracuda which can be seen in tordados here. Plus large schools of giant trevally and dogtooth tuna. Another favourite sighting are the huge Napoleon wrasse. Reef sharks can also be seen.

Coral is also abundantly healthy in hard and soft coral varities, sponges and sea fans. The macro stuff is equally diverse with scorpionfish and frogfish waiting to be discovered along with multitudes of nudibranchs and shrimps. The reef is a sloping wall down to 40m. Visibility is excellent. Currents can be strong at times.

Fabiacet is around a 15 hour sail south west of Sorong so is reached by liveaboard. The series of four tiny islands, two of them no more than rocks, run in a chain to the south east of Misool. The remoteness contributes to the "untouched" beauty and the feeling that you are the first diver to dive here.

These dive sites offer the possibility to see anything, from the rarest blennie, to great hammerhead sharks coming up from the deep.

Pinnacles and submerged plateaus around the islets are surrounded by deep water and currents can be strong. Visibility is usually excellent, 30-40 metres.

Pelagic fish are common including schools of yellowtail barracua and big eye trevally. Tuna and mackeral also hunt here. Rainbow runners pass divers in speeding squadrons. The occasional reef shark and Napoleon wrasse are also seen.

Schools of snapper come in several varieties here including midnight, red, black and white, humpback and one spot snapper. Butterflyfish include masked, striped and copperband. They all jostle for reef space with schools of fuslier, surgeonfish and wrasse.

Coral coverage on the walls is superb with fine examples of gorgonian seafans complemented by hard and soft corals, barrel sponges, seawhips and featherstars. Photographers will be able to get some awesome wide angle shots but as with most Indonesia dive sites, the macro life is abundant too.

Batu Burung
The Jef Fam group of islands to the west of Batanta Island is a beautiful series of islands featuring limestone cliffs, beaches and many shallow bays. Surrounding the islands are some excellent dive sites.

Batu Burung (Bird Rocks) is made up of three tiny rock islets and is widely regarded as the areas best dive site.

It's a typically diverse Raja Ampat dive site with vast varieties of reef fish. It is fairly easy to spot five different species of angelfish, or butterflyfish or snapper. If you want to count all the species you'll need many more dives to do it.

The reef drops down to around 38 metres on the south side where the wall is covered in colourful soft corals. In the shallows on the west side slope, impressive hard corals are home to myriads of anthis and damsels and giant tridachna clams measure over a metre in length each. Cabbage coral, finger coral mushroom coral and soft coral bushes all compete for space on the reef.

Oriental sweetlips shelter under large table coral formations. Cornet fish nose around in staghorn patches. Titan triggerfish can be seen with staghorn coral chucks in their mouth, or maybe a spiny sea urchin. Clown triggerfish are also often spotted. Moray eels, lionfish and scorpionfish are all common. Banded sea snakes can be seen hunting in the coral.

Wobbegong's are a more unusual find. They can be found here under rock ledges or coral bommies. They are a rare sight outside of Australia and are one of the most bizarre looking shark species. Manta Rays make occasional visits when the currents are running.

Manta Ridge
Manta rays are a fairly common sight on Raja Ampat liveaboard safaris but Manta Ridge is one of the most reliable places to see them, and see them in large numbers.

Manta Ridge is located between Mansuar Island and Airborei Island. The dive site is a popular manta ray cleaning station that attracts groups of mantas. Thirty have been counted on one dive but five or six is more common. Some have wing spans of four metres across and are accompanied by cobias. All are accompanied by remoras and golden trevallies.

The mantas glide into the cleaning stations effortlessly despite the very strong currents that are usually present. Divers may have to hang on or use a reef hook to remain in one place and observe them.

One thing that you may notice about the manta rays of Raja Ampat is that some of them are all black. This is unusual as most manta rays have a black upperside and a white underside.

Although the dive site drops below 40 metres manta sightings are in shallow water from 10 metres and above. Further down the reef you can find armies of bumphead parrotfish crashing over the coral. Turtles are also seen on the reef and blacktip reef sharks can be seen in deeper water.

Sel Pele Bay
Sel Pele Bay is the macro photography diving capital of Raja Ampat. This is where divers can find all the weird, wonderful and rare critters that Indonesia diving is famed for.

Sel Pele Bay is a very large bay on the western site of Waigeo Island. The inner bay is used for pearl farming. On the outer, south side of the bay is Dinding Seletan dive site.

A vertical wall slopes off to a sandy bottom with patches of coral, seafans and sponges. Sea cucumbers and urchins are scattered around but closer inspection should reveal an abundance of critters.

Look out for various different cephalopods including mimic octopus who are happy to move openly over the sand knowing that they can deter pretators by imitating another creature, rather than hiding in the coral as most ocotopuses do.

Blue ring octopus are also present, their bright orange rings with brown centres act as a warning of their extreme venom, which seems disproportionate to their small size.

Also a diver favourite is the tiny bobtail squid because of it's rarity and it's beauifully coloured body. Bobtail squid are usually found on the sandy bottom. Also look on the sand and rubble patches for ribbon eels and for mantis shrimps plus a myriad of gobies, blennies, shrimps and nudibranchs.

Wreck Dives
The Cross Wreck is one of Raja Ampat's more accessible wreck dives. It lies close to shore in just 18 metres of water. It is named after a large cross on the shore nearby where Christian missionaries first landed in Irian Jaya.

The wreck was a Japanese Navy Patrol Boat that sank during World War II. It now sits upright in the sand and is completely covered in soft corals and ecrusting sponges. Two rows of depth charges can be seen at the stern and the ships lamps are still either standing in their places or laying on the deck.

Ammunition can be seen in the front hold by divers qualified to penetrate the wreck. The switchboard can be seen in the communications room and penetration into the engine room is also possible by suitably certified wreck divers.

The wreck is a popular night dive where lionfish, scorpionfish moray eels and parrotfish can all be seen. Critters are all over the wreck including numerous nudibranch, shrimp and goby species. Huge Napoleon wrasse and parrotfish can also be seen.

Critter Corner is a little sand/rubble area at the end of the Cross Wreck towards the beach that is a good place to spot leaffish, frogfish and seahorses.

The Shinwa Maru (Friendly Spirit) wreck was a Japanese WWII cargo ship. This impressive 120 metre long vessel now lies on her port side in 16-34 metres of water. There are two big bomb blast holes in the starboard side. Mine sweeping equipment, car batteries, ammunition, cables and sake bottles, kitchen equipment and chop sticks are some of the artifacts strewn over the wreck. There are also two diving helmets. The wreck is home to schools of jacks as well as impressive macro life.

The P40 Aircraft Wreck was discovered in 1999 near Manokwari. It lies in 27 metres of water and is largely intact. It's tail section and wing tips broke off on crash landing and are resting nearby.

Farondi Island is located around 12 nautical miles east of Misool Island and offers divers some stunning wall and cavern dives. This is another Raja Ampat dive destination where the quantity and variety of fish will amaze you.

Goa Besar, on the southern side of Farondi is a wall dive with a tunnel at 25 metres that is inhabited by midnight snapper and shy Indonesian sweetlips. The 20 metre long tunnel is framed with sponges and soft corals. Look in black coral bushes for ornate ghost pipefish.

Further along the wall huge gorgonian seafans are home to many pygmy seahorses. There are more than one variety here including Hippocampus Bargibanti which is commonly pink/white and bobbly plus Hippocampus Denise which is slightly smaller and often more orange in colour. These critters are incredibly hard to spot as they are so well camouflaged with the gorgonians but there are more of them at this dive site making the task of finding them a bit easier. Large schools of fish cover the wall including fusilier and surgeonfish, damsels and anthias.

Verena's Garden, on the southwest tip of Farondi Island, is a wall dive with a long cavern into the centre of the island.

The reef wall is carpeted with colourful soft corals, gorgonians and sea squirts. Schools of snapper, fusilier and surgeonfish are prolific.

Armies of large humphead parrotfish often storm past. Pairings of butterflyfish and angelfish are numerous. The challenge for photographers is to get both the pair in one shot.

It's worth taking your time to look in all the bush corals for critters like ghost pipefish and on whip corals for whip gobies. Crustaceans and nudibranchs are also numerous.

The cavern entrance at 5-12 metres is guarded by schools of sweepers. Mimic octopus can be found in the tunnel.

Misool Island
The coral reefs around Misool Island are great dive sites to see smaller critters and juvenile reef fish. One of the favourite dive sites around Misool is the sloping wall called Kaleidoscope which is completely carpeted in colourful soft corals and gorgonian sea fans. This dive site is generally seen as a small reef fish and critter dive site but it is also possible to see black tip reef sharks and squadrons of mobula rays have even been seen here.

The sloping reef starts at 5 metres drops down to 40 metres. Currents are usually mild and visibility averages 20 metres. All the usual schools of reef fish are present including many varieties of butterflyfish and angelfish, snapper and surgeonfish. Lionfish lurk around barrel sponges and swarms of damsels dart in and out of the reef adding to the colour.

Kaleidoscope is a great dive site to see smaller critters such as pygmy seahorses, look for them in the pink gorgonian sea fans. Harlequin shrimps can also be found as can pipefish, including banded pipefish and ornate ghost pipefish. Nudibranchs and flatworms are also abundant.

Kaleidoscope is also a very popular night dive where sleeping parrotfish, moray eels, lionfish, scorpionfish, crabs and lobster can all be found.

Sardine Reef is a large sloping reef off Kri Island, close to Waigeo Island and is named not because divers see sardines there but because the vast numbers of fish are packed so tightly together.

Large schools of trevally and dogtooth tuna almost block out the sunlight as they school overhead. Bumphead parrotfish charge over the reef in big hooligan like gangs, chewing up the coral as they go. Walls of snapper and fusilier seem to block your passage.

The coral reef is not deep, sloping to around 30 metres but currents can be strong and this is often a drift dive. Visibility is often 30 metres or more and with such colourful coral wide angle photographers will be in their element.

Large table coral formations make a perfect home for an abundance of fish life. Damsels dance above the hard coral and dart back inside for shelter when a diver gets too close. Oriental sweetlips shelter in the shadows. Moray eels weave their way underneath and lionfish can often be seen lurking. These species are all quite common in this area but one of the rarer species found at Sardines reef is the wobbegong, a bizarre looking shark that is normally only seen on Australian reefs.

Critters can be found here as well and it's worth looking in every gorgonian sea fan for pygmy seahorses. Long nosed hawkfish can also be spotted as can nudibranchs and flatworms of every colour.

The passage is a 25 metre wide stretch of water between Gam Island and Waigeo Island. The coral reef starts just below the surface and descents to around 35m.

The passage is usually dived as a drift dive because the currents can be strong. However there are sheltered areas where it is possible to stop and have a hunt around. There are also caves and coral framed archways to have a look into. Tassled wobbegong sharks can be seen laying under ledges. Octopus hide in coral crevices, as do moray eels. Lionfish and scorpionfish are numerous.

Oriental sweetlips hide under coral ledges. Emperor angel fish and masked butterflyfish are just a couple of other species on display.Critters like nudibranchs, flatworms, gobies, blennies and crustaceans are plentiful.Out in the current, reef sharks can be seen. So too can pelagic species such as large tuna, barracuda and trevally. Visibility is good, around 20-30m.

A small rock dive site nearby is called Nudibranch Rock for the large variety of colourful nudibranchs and flatworms that can be found there. (all diving spot by http://www.indonesialiveaboards.com)

Natural beauty, as if absolutely untouched has been the main attraction here. No need toexpression of the beauty of a blue sky or a fertile island, because what was on the land andunder the sea will tell you "Welcome to Raja Ampat Island; this is your personal Disneylandto dive! '.

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