Raja Ampat is considered to be the Amazon of the Ocean, offering the best diving destinations in the world. It is on every diver’s wish list. The marine life diversity found in West Papua is greater than in any of the areas comprised in the Coral Triangle. Miraculous diving sites await you in the pinnacle of the Asian diving world. A fairy tale for diving enthusiasts. Explore Raja Ampat above and under the water with our tailored yachting experiences.
The answer to that is quite simple: yes! And here is why we think Raja Ampat is the best diving in the world. 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 all the time. So, to make a choice of where to dive, we have collected a list of the best dive sites in Raja Ampat.
Exploring Raja Ampat’s world-class dive sites
If you are planning a diving trip to Raja Ampat, it’s important to know the best time to visit to ensure optimal diving conditions. The best time for diving in Raja Ampat is between the months of October and April. During this time, the weather is usually dry and the sea is calm, providing divers with excellent diving conditions with high water visibility and comfortable water temperatures.
Waigeo is the biggest of the 4 main islands of Raja Ampat. The Dampier Strait separates it from Batanta Island. This area is definitely one of Raja Ampat’s highlights, with tons of diving spots. To say which area is the best for diving is very difficult, each 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 nudibranchs 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.
Sardine Reef located at the northeastern point of Kri
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 200-meter-long underwater pinnacles thrive with activity; one might almost call it a fish traffic jam. The maximum diving depth is 30 meters with a visibility of up to 30 meters (100 ft). 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.
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 enjoys great visibility of up to 30 meters (100 ft), 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 the 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 have a run for their money too. The coral flora is equally diverse, so keep your eyes open for numerous nudibranchs, scorpionfish, seahorses, sea anemones, vase sponge,s and many other life forms.
Discover pure Magic underneath the surface
Kri Island has even more Raja Ampat 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. 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 bumphead parrotfish. The coral residents include seahorses, nudibranchs, flatworms, mantis shrimp, crabs, pipefish, and much more.
“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 (79 ft) and the currents here 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 uninhabited limestone islands of Wayag are a tantalizing sight from both above and underwater. The iconic mushroom-shaped islands, the towering limestone cliffs, and the 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 invite pelagic species like barracudas, tuna, and big groups of sharks. The density and variety of unique macro life inhabiting the overhanging walls have attracted international recognition.
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 into Raja Ampat’s 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 has yet to be 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 jackfish 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 colors 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 sea anemones give shelter to dense marine life. Melissa’s Garden is an easy dive site for all levels. Bright-colored reef fish are part of the spectacle at Melissa’s Garden.
Penemu is the perfect spot for night dives
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 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. The reef scenery has some of 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. Misool is often spoken of as the superlative of diving experience, with different species and corals found even just a few meters underwater.
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
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 world’s 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 extraordinarily colored nudibranchs 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 shelves. 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. Nudibranchs, seahorses, and pipefish are among them. Don’t forget to look out for octopuses in the reefs’ fissures.
Both dive sites 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 countless species of nudibranchs, anchor coral, yellow pygmy seahorses, squat lobsters, sea stars, and more. No Contest is prone to strong currents and aggregations of schooling fish.
Colors of Wayilbatan
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!
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. IfwWobbegong sharks like to relax in the coral heads and among the sea fans, many small inhabitants can also be spotted there.
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
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.
So, after our selection of beautiful and unique dive sites, you probably ask yourself what is the best part of Raja Ampat? It really comes down to your preferences and diving experience. However, all of the selected areas and spots are worth visiting and provide excellent diving. Adventurers, photographers, and professional divers alike will be taken away by the beauty of Raja Ampat and what the region has to offer.