Best Dive Sites Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is considered to be the Amazon of the Ocean, offering the best dive sites in the world. No wonder it is on every diver’s wish list. The diversity of marine life found in Raja Ampat is greater than in any of the areas comprised of the Coral Triangle. Spectacular scuba diving awaits you at the pinnacle of the Asian diving world. It is a fairy tale for diving enthusiasts of all levels and ages.

Is Raja Ampat the best diving in the world?

The answer to that is quite simple: Yes! And here are some reasons why we think Raja Ampat offers the best diving. 

  • Over 2 million hectares are Marine Protected Area (total land & sea is 4.6 million hectares)
  • The archipelago is home to more than 1,600 species of fish and 75% of the world’s known coral species
  • 17 known species of marine mammals (including the dugong)
  • Five species of rare and endangered sea turtles, including the hawks bill sea turtle
  • Many of the dive sites are suitable for children and beginners
  • Spectacular landscapes surround the dive sites
  • Many of the dive sites in Raja Ampat are still unspoiled and not flooded with tourists
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The density and variety of unique macro species, the sheer explosion of colors, and the impressive congregations of fish will leave you speechless. Many sites are still less explored and new species are discovered regularly. Our experts have created an overview of some of the best dive sites in Raja Ampat to provide you with more insights into this spectacular diving and cruising destination.

Exploring Raja Ampat’s world-class dive sites with private yacht charters

What is the best time for diving in Raja Ampat?

The best time for a diving holiday in Raja Ampat is between October and April. The weather is usually dry during this time, and the sea is calm. Amazing visibility and comfortable water temperatures transform your scuba diving sessions into pure bliss. Many yachts and liveaboards in our portfolio operate in Raja Ampat during this period.

Diving in central Raja Ampat

When we talk about the central part of Raja Ampat, the Dampier Strait comes to mind immediately. The strait flows between Batanta and Waigeo Island. It also includes smaller islands such as Miskon, Gam, Mansuar, and Kri. All of them offer spectacular scuba diving opportunities. From pinnacles and sandy slopes over reef walls covered with soft coral to hard coral reef tops, every dive site has its unique features and magic. In the area, you can find many species, such as pygmy seahorses, manta rays, crocodile fish, surgeonfish, and unicorn fish. We recommend the following sites for your scuba diving adventure in central Raja Ampat: Sardine Reef, Cape Kri, Chicken Reef, Manta Sandy and Batu Lima.

Sardine Reef located at the northeastern point of Kri 

Sardine Reef

Diving adventures on a liveaboard and private yacht charters in Raja Ampat include a mandatory stop at the famous dive sites of the Dampier Strait. One of the must-visit sites is Sardine Reef on the east side of Kri Island. The large 200-meter-long underwater pinnacle is bursting with life. Vibrant soft coral, black coral bushes, and slopes filled with coral heads mark the seascape of Sardine Reef. The highlight is the rare wobbegong shark, usually only found in Australia. The maximum diving depth is around 30 meters, with a visibility of up to 35 meters (100 ft). The predominant current runs along the eastern side and can get strong. To drift dive safely, a negative entry is required. We recommend following your experienced dive guides to get unique perspectives and ensure safety. 

Cape Kri Dive Site

Also 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 in Raja Ampat! The dive site offers great visibility of up to 30 meters (100 ft), and the variety of underwater fauna and flora found here is astonishing. Due to the strong currents, a minimum of 50 logged dives is required to dive at Cape Kri. It is home to the gray reef and white tip reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse, barracudas, snappers, jacks, batfish, and many other species. The coral flora is equally diverse, so keep your eyes open fo nudibranchs, scorpionfish, seahorses, sea anemones and vase sponges. We recommend to leave enough pages in your logbook for this dive site.

Chicken Reef

Kri Island has even more Raja Ampat diving highlights to offer. On the northeast side of the island, you will find the Chicken Reef. With strong currents and a diving depth of below 30m, the dive spot is only recommended for experienced divers. It offers a great visibility of 20 to 30 meters (65 to 100 ft). The site is well-known for its enormous number of colorful reef fish. In addition, the reef is a mind-blowing dive for coral lovers. Numerous soft and hard corals such as black stag-horn corals, table corals, and feather corals are found here. The coral residents include seahorses, nudibranchs, flatworms, mantis shrimp, crabs, pipefish, and much more. Large schools of fusiliers and bumphead parrotfish are everywhere.

Pure Magic underneath the surface of central Raja Ampat 

Manta Sandy

Manta Sandy is an iconic diving and snorkeling site in Raja Ampat. It is located off the southern coast of Gam Island and is one of the best-known dive sites in Raja Ampat. It serves as a major manta cleaning station and is well-known for the steady influx of manta rays between October and April. These majestic giants can be found either feeding at the surface, as the area is rich in plankton, or hovering over a cleaning station. The Manta Sandy dive site in Raja Ampat is relatively shallow, which means you won’t encounter any issues with your bottom time. A true gem for the entire family!

Batu Lima – Diving at Gam Island

“The Five Rocks” is located in the southeast of Gam Island. Many divers consider it as one of the best sites and you will hear many people mention it as a must-visit while cruising Raja Ampat. Batu Lima is a perfect spot for an easy dive over blooming soft corals with a dense reef population. A particular highlight is to go for a night dive. The diving depth reaches a maximum of about 24 meters (79 ft) and the currents are variable.

The reef walls are covered in corals and the impressive size of the purple-colored 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 blacktip 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 nudibranchs and flatworms in the coral.

The 4 main Islands of Raja Ampat offer stunning beauty

Diving In the northern Part of Raja Ampat

On the way to Wayag in the northern part of Raja Ampat, there are spectacular dive sites you should not miss. Especially when it comes to crossing the equator line. From Melissa’s Garden and Arborek Jetty, over Kawe to Wayag, navigating north is a pure delight when it comes to diving and snorkeling. 

Melissa's Garden

Melissa’s Garden offers spectacular colors and various shapes of corals. Named after the marine biologist and located near the Fam Islands it is a magical garden with the wealthiest blue waters surrounding the three lovely seamounts which are right in the centre. The sloping reef is covered in colorful hard coral formations as far as the eye can see.  Divers are often treated to large Bumphead Parrot Fish swimming in groups, or even Hawksbill Turtles searching for a resting place among the coral formations. If you are an underwater photographer, there is endless macro life to capture with your camera. Pygmy seahorses and a wide variety of nudibranchs are nestled in corals and transform this dive site into the perfect hunting ground for stunning images.

Arborek Jetty

Arborek is a tiny island in the Raja Ampat archipelago, at the end of Dampier Strait with a magnificent dive site located on its main jetty. Although Arborek village is a famous stop to visit the local pearl farm, the pier on the north side of the island is well-known for its beautiful underwater views. Diving and snorkeling in this area is a treat, especially for children. Below the jetty you will encounter massive schools of fish which you can get completely lost in. It is almost as you get draped in large schools of sweet lips and jack mackerels hunting on the smaller silversides. And if you are really lucky, you may even spot giant oceanic manta rays and even wobbegongs.

Penemu is the perfect spot for night dives

Eagle Rock - Diving at Kawe

Kawe sits right across from the equator, attracting marine life like a magnet, and is one of Raja Ampat’s true gems. Loaded with some remarkable diving, Eagle Rock stands out as one of the best dive sites in the area. Here you are likely to see mantas using the many cleaning stations or feeding on the surface in the channel between two of the islands. The deep end of the site is a maze of large boulders covered with an array of citrus-colored soft coral where wobbegong sharks like to hide.

Wayag

The uninhabited limestone islands of Wayag are almost too beautiful to be real. No matter if you look at them from your yacht or while being in the water. The crystal clear and turquoise water in the area offers an unbelievable diversity of marine life.  The medium to strong currents surrounding the pinnacles invite pelagic species like barracudas, tuna, and big groups of sharks. However, Wayag also features some sites with little to no current, perfect for beginners, snorkelers, and children. 

Dive Sites Misool

The southernmost island chain of the archipelago offers Raja Ampat diving at its finest. Due to the size and the hundreds of small islands, Misool is divided into different areas. The most famous areas include Fiabacet, Pele, Wayilbatan, and are more broadly categorized as east and south-east Misool. Misool is known for having some of the most prolific sea fans and soft corals, and the reef scenery offers the most distinctive coral formations around Raja Ampat. The soft corals come in every imaginable color and their inhabitants are just as colorful as their habitat. The area is often spoken of as the superlative of diving.

East and southeast Misool offer remarkable dive spots and naming the best ones is quite a challenge. However, we selected some for you that will easily come up to Misool’s reputation as a diver’s paradise. 

A large school of Barracudas in Southeastern Misool

Boo Rocks Dive Site

An underwater ridge connects the trifecta of Whale Rock, Tank Rock, and Nudi Rock 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 world’s most famous dive sites. Here, divers can explore what makes Raja Ampat so special. The site is almost overpopulated by marine life and the submarine flora and fauna covers the ocean’s wall like a blanket. During your dive, you will see extraordinarily colored nudibranchs and sea slugs. Gorgonians, sea whips, barrel sponges, acropora, and other coral forms paint the seascape at Boo Rocks. 

No Contest and Love Potion

Both dive sites are underwater pinnacles bursting 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. Here, macro divers will be rewarded with countless species of nudibranchs, anchor coral, yellow pygmy seahorses, squat lobsters, sea stars, and more. 

Colors of Wayilbatan

Wayilbatan Area

The Wayilbatan area is a 30-meter-wide (100 ft) channel with medium to strong currents washing along many nutrients. Due to them, numerous multi-colored sea fans and crustaceans have made Wayilbatan their home. Famous dive sites in 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 their inhabitants. Wayilbatan is a true heaven for macro divers – you are sure to see at least one species you have never seen before!

Wedding Cake dive site

Steep slopes of about 30 meters (100ft) constitute 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 moray eels, multi-colored parrotfish, damsels, swarms of sweetlips, and every kind of soft coral color you can imagine. The coral overhangs are healthy and flourish with bright colors from 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 sea fans.

Fiabacet Area

Fiabecet is a true playground for wide-angle underwater photographers and is as vivid as nature intended. It offers deep and clear water of up to 40 meters (130 ft) of depth, one of the best visibility in Raja Ampat, and brilliant fish life. As mentioned, the underwater ridge connects Boo Rocks (on the eastern side) to Kalig Island on the western side. The shallower areas of the ridge create unforgettable dive sites such as Tank Rock, Nudi Rock, and Whale Rock. Here, you will discover one of Raja Ampats’ most extensive reef systems.

A yacht charter in Raja Ampat takes you to an underwater wonderland

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 countless species of nudibranchs. 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. Healthy reefs flourish with a wide range of life. Angelfish and masses of gorgonian fans are common here too.

Which is the best place to dive in Raja Ampat?

After our selection of beautiful and unique dive sites, you probably ask yourself what is the best part of Raja Ampat? It comes down to your preferences and diving experience. However, all the selected areas and dive sites are worth visiting and provide excellent diving. Adventurers, photographers, professional divers and snorkelers alike will be taken away by the beauty Raja Ampat’s underwater world has to offer. 

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