Best Dives Sites Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is the Amazon of the Ocean among the diving destinations of the world and on every divers wish list. The marine life diversity found in West Papua is greater than in any of the areas that comprise the Coral Triangle. Miraculous diving sites await you in the pinnacle of the Asian diving world. A fairy tale for diving enthusiasts, the density and variety of bizarre macro species, the sheer explosion of colours and the impressive congregations of fish will leave you speechless. Many sites are still less explored and new species are discovered all the time. So, to make the choice of where to dive “easier”, we have collected a list of best dive sites of Raja Ampat.
Best Dive Sites Raja Ampat: Waigeo and Dampier Strait- Central Area
Waigeo is the biggest of the 4 major Islands of Raja Ampat. The Dampier Strait separates the Island from Batanta Island. This area is definitely one of the Raja Ampat highlights with tons of diving spots. To say which area is the best for diving is very difficult, everyone has its own unique charm depending on what you are looking for. Pinnacles, sandy slopes, reef walls covered with soft coral and hard coral reef tops, mark the diving scene around here. Steep valleys between the islands are part of the scenery and rare nudibranches are one of the highlights of the diving site. Pigmy Seahorses, manta rays, crocodile fish, surgeonfish, and unicorn fish are just some of the many life forms you will encounter.
The Sardine Reef – Diving Dampier Strait
Diving Raja Ampat includes a mandatory stop at the famous dive spots of the Dampier Strait. One of the top sites is the Sardine Reef on the east side of Kri Island. The large 200m long underwater pinnacles thrive with activity; one might almost call it a fish-traffic-jam. The maximum diving depth is 30m with a visibility of up to 30m. The predominant current runs along the eastern side and can reach very high velocities. To drift dive safely a negative entry is required. Vibrant soft coral, large table coral, black coral bushes and slopes filled with coral heads mark the seascape of the Sardine Reef. Among many other species, you will be enthralled by schooling fish like fusiliers, surgeonfish rainbow runners, sweetlips and of course not to forget, giant trevallies and tunas. A highlight of the reef is the presence of the rare wobbegong shark, usually only found in Australia.
Cape Kri - Diving Dampier Strait
Located at the eastern point of Kri Island lays Cape Kri, the proud world record holder of the largest number of species recorded in one dive – Truly one of the best dive sites of Raja Ampat! The dive site enjoys a great visibility of up to 30 meters and the variety of fauna and flora found here is astonishing. Due to the strong currents of the spot a minimum of 50 logged dives is required to dive at Cape Kri. It is home to te grey reef and white tip reef sharks, napoleon wrasse, barracudas, snappers, jacks, batfish and many other species. In terms of biomass dogtooth tuna, barracuda and giant trevallies dominate the spot. So leave enough pages in your logbook for this dive site. Macro-fans will come to their cost too. The coral flora is equally diverse, so keep your eyes open for numerous nudibranches, scorpionfish, seahorses, anemone, vase sponge and many other life forms.
Chicken Reef – Diving Dampier Strait
Kri Island has even more Raja Ampat highlights to offer. At the northeast side of the island, you will find the Chicken Reef. With very strong currents and a diving depth of below 30m, the dive spot is only recommended for experienced divers. It enjoys a great visibility of 20-30m. The site is famous for its enormous number of colourful reef fish. The chicken reef is a mind-blowing diving spot for coral lovers. Numerous soft and hard corals such as black stag-horn corals, table corals and feather corals are found here. Ever present are large schools of fusiliers and bump head parrotfish. The coral residents include seahorses, nudibranches, flatworms, mantis shrimp, crabs, pipefish and much more.
Batu Lima – Diving Gam Island
“The Five Rocks” is located in the southeast of Gam Island. For many divers, it is considered one of the best sites and you will hear many people mention it as a must-visit while diving Raja Ampat. It offers a perfect spot for an easy dive over blooming soft corals with a dense reef population. A particular and lovely highlight is to go for a night dive at Batu Lima. The diving depth reaches a maximum of about 24 meters and the currents here are variable. The reef walls are covered in corals and the brilliant size of the purple-coloured coral fans leaves many divers amazed. Black coral bushes and soft corals populate the reef walls disappearing behind you while you drift dive along the coral overhangs. Batfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish, damsels and rabbitfish abound here. You will see giant trevallies, white and blacktips sharks and barracudas drift by while hunting coral groupers who escape to the overhangs. Enjoy the spectacle of nature and keep an eye out for the multitude of nudibranches and flatworms in the coral.
Best Dive Sites Raja Ampat: Wayag- North Area
The uninhabited limestone islands of Wayag are a tantalizing sight from both above and underwater. The iconic mushroom-shaped islands, the towering limestone cliffs and forested islands make for a dazzling scene. The crystal clear turquoise waters surrounded by lagoons and the rich underwater diversity make it one of the best dive sites of Raja Ampat. The medium to strong currents surrounding the pinnacles invites pelagic species like barracudas, tuna and big groupers of sharks. The density and variety of bizarre macro life inhabiting the overhanging walls has attracted international recognition.
Best Dive Sites of Penemu
The Island, a long submerged seamount, has a cluster of excellent dive sites with overhanging walls, coral slopes and sea fans. It offers divers a beautiful insight in Raja Ampats’ marine life. Penemu is also an excellent night dive site. Here you can spot the tiny wonders in numerous coral gardens. Species of sea urchins, clams, cephalopods, crabs and sea spiders populate the areas protected from the currents. Penemu is not yet fully explored but some of the famous dive sites include My Reef, Batu Rufus, Harto’s Reef, Galaxy and Melissa’s Garden. My Reef is a submerged ridge with a wonderful hard coral garden and a hotspot for fish activity. Large schools of jack fish and batfish are often spotted here. Giant trevallies, snappers and rainbow runners like to cruise around too.
The eastern side of Penemu is just as diverse. The hard coral garden found at Melissa’s Garden offers spectacular colours and various shapes of corals. This is a great dive experience for macro divers and macro underwater photographers. Plenty of soft corals such as sponges and anemones give shelter to a dense marine life. Melissa’s Garden is an easy dive site for all levels. Bright coloured reef fish are part of the spectacle at Melissa’s Garden.
Best Dive Sites Raja Ampat: Misool - South Area
Misool is the southernmost Island chain of the Archipelago and offers Raja Ampat diving at its finest. Due to the size of Misool and the hundreds of small islands, it is divided into different areas. The most famous areas include the Fiabacet Area, Pele Area, Wayilbatan Area and more broadly categorized East and South East Misool. Misool is known for having some of the most prolific sea fans and soft corals. The reef scenery has some of the most distinctive coral formations around Raja Ampat. The soft corals come in every imaginable colour and its inhabitants are just as colourful as their habitat. Misool is often spoken of as the superlative of diving experience with different species and corals found even just a few meters underwater.
Best Dives Sites East and Southeast Misool
Boo Rocks Dive Site
An underwater ridge connects the trifecta of Whale Rock, Tank Rock and Nudi Rock (mentioned further below) with Boo Rocks. The similar topography found at these diving grounds includes undercut islets with slopes of sea fans and pristine shallow hard and soft coral gardens. The rocks with two large openings that completely pierce through the island have become one of the worlds most famous dive sites. Here divers can explore what makes Raja Ampat so special. The diving spot is almost overpopulated by marine life and the submarine flora and fauna cover the Ocean’s wall like a blanket. During your dive, you will see extraordinary coloured nudibranches and sea slugs. Gorgonians, sea whips, barrel sponges, acropora and other coral forms paint the seascape at Boo Rocks. The topography seems ever changing from reef walls to sloping reefs and reef shelf. The marine creatures, on the other hand, seem never ending; from wobbegong sharks to green turtles to dash fusiliers and unicorn and surgeon fish, sweetlips and napoleons and so many more species. Feast your eyes observing the less common and smaller reef inhabitants like lobsters and other crustaceans. Nudibranches, seahorse and pipefish are among them. Look out for octopus in the reefs fissures.
No Contest and Love Potion
Both No Contest and Love Potion are underwater pinnacles swarming with schooling fish and covered with gorgonian sea fans and various coral formations. The scenic topography is a dream for every wide-angle photographer. In contrast to No Contest, Love Potion is better suited for observing macro subjects. At Love Potion macro divers will be rewarded with uncountable species of nudibranches, anchor coral, yellow pygmy seahorse, squat lobster, sea star and more. No Contest is prone to strong currents and aggregations of schooling fish.
Best Dives Sites Misool - Wayilbatan Area
The Wayilbatan area is a 30m wide channel with medium to strong currents washing along many nutrients. Due to them, numerous multi-coloured sea fans and crustaceans have made Wayilbatan their home. Famous dive sites of the area include Wedding Cake, Barracuda Rock and Neptune’s Sea Fan. Because of the currents, diving in Wayilbatan is only recommended for intermediate to experienced divers. During strong currents, the drift dive offers a more panoramic view, while with slow currents it is possible to stop and explore the corals and its inhabitants. Wayilbatan is a true heaven for macro divers – you are sure to see at least one species you have never seen before!
Steep slopes of about 30m make up the Wedding Cake diving ground. Famously known for its huge sea fans growing from the reef walls and the dense underwater life. It is home to moral eel, multi-coloured parrotfish, damsels, swarms of sweetlips and every kind of soft coral colour imaginable. The coral overhangs are healthy and flourish with bright colours of pink to orange to yellow. Neptune’s Sea Fan is a small channel with shallow walls covered with immense gorgonian sea fans. Wobbegong sharks like to relax in the coral heads and among the seas fans, many small inhabitants can be spotted.
Best Dives Sites Misool - Pele Area
In Pele, the most southeast area of Misool you will come across some worthy diving spots. Among these are Four Kings, Kaleidoscope and Pulau Kecil and Blue Hole, the latter offering a spectacular night dive spot. The Four Kings are four underwater pinnacles covered in a blanket of soft coral. Here you can simply swim from one rock to the next and admire the soft corals and marine life. Turtles are known to like this place.
Kaleidoscope is a soft coral sloping wall with amazing reef scenery. Its name, it proudly obtains because of the profusion of colours the soft corals produce. In the distance, napoleon wrasse and some mobula rays can be seen cruising by, while the stunning colours of the coral and its inhabitants will soon guide your attention. Critters, ghost pipefish, nudibranches, flatworms and many other life forms will captivate you during your dive. Night diving here is just as spectacular as at Blue Hole.
Best Dives Sites Misool - Fiabacet Area
Fiabecet is a true playground for wide-angle photographers and as vivid as nature intended. It enjoys deep and clear water of up to 40m of depth, one of the best visibility in Raja Ampat, and an excellent fish life. As mentioned, the underwater ridge connects Boo Rocks (on the eastern side) with Kalig Island on the west. The shallower areas of ridge create the unforgettable dive sites called Tank Rock, Nudi Rock and Whale Rock. Here you will discover one of Raja Ampats’ most extensive reef systems.
Diving Tank Rock, Nudi Rock and Whale Rock
The three dive sites are a line of rocks sometimes connected underwater. The amount of fish at Tank Rock can make it hard to see the coral. A ridge connects Tank and Nudi Rock. As the name suggests, Nudi Rock is home to innumerable nudibranches. The seascape consists of areas covered with soft corals and other areas with hard corals. Reef fish and some bigger players are found in abundance. Whale Rock is famous for its endless sea fans and soft coral. You will frequently see hammerhead sharks, schooling surgeonfish and orange-spotted trevally in the deeper waters. Hawksbill turtles and manta rays like to come to the steep slopes of Nudi Rock. The healthy reefs flourish with a big range of life. Angelfish and masses of gorgonian fans are common here too.