Raja Ampat is located within the Indonesian archipelago off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua (Irian Jaya). Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, the area is known for it’s beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life. Raja Ampat, translated directly as “four kings” was named for the 4 main islands in the area – Weigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. Diving Raja Ampat, will take your breath away with the marine life thriving from the sea floor to the surface and the colorful reef teeming with activity. There are sites that are so pristine and packed with growth, that a photographer is hard-pressed to find a spot to place a steadying finger. Exotic sea life and macro critters will overwhelm any macro photography enthusiast. The only problem with diving here is that you’ll be so spoiled by the near-perfect conditions that you may never want to leave or dive anywhere else again!
Dive Gaia trips offer divers the opportunity to explore the entire region. West of Sorong, Batanta Island offers incredible critter sites for the macro enthusiast. In the south of Raja Ampat is the island of Misool. Be wow-ed by the profusion of colorful soft corals and sea fans beautifully draping the reefs. Expect to encounter both the oceanic and reef mantas. Towards the western tip of Misool, be intrigued by one of the world’s most stunning mangroves.
Located in central Raja Ampat is Dampier Strait (which flows between Waigeo and Batanta), where nutrient-rich ocean currents create an incredible underwater environment. Everything which makes for a wonderful dive can be found here. Home to iconic dive sites Cape Kri and Blue Magic, be surrounded by schools of fish and the unique thrill of “fish thunder” – the loud booming sound made when a large number of fish move rapidly through open water. Further west is the island of Arborek, known for it’s jetty dive and it’s cleanliness. Travelling north west of Dampier Strait is the Penemu Islands famous of it’s hard coral gardens and stunning lagoon view.
Northern Raja Ampat covers the islands of Waigeo, Kawe and Wayag. Visit the pearl farm of Aljui Bay in between exploring the pearl farm’s jetties famous for it’s unique critters and sleeping woobegongs. West of Waigeo, the rocks and seamounts in the Kawe area are truly singular as they actually sit on the equator. Kawe is one of the few places in the world where you can travel between the northern and southern hemispheres while diving! Yet, this is not the only reason to be excited about this dive. A combination of currents and feeding stations in this area combine to draw in a profuse amount of fish life, as well as huge mantas. Cruising even further to the north, we visit the Wayag area. This isolated, uninhabited area sprinkled with verdant limestone islands, bordered by slivers of white sandy beaches and palm trees, represents what people usually have in mind when they think of paradise. The only thing to rival the landscape here is the diving. It is truly spectacular, with extensive and untouched hard coral reefs. As the majority of Wayag’s islands have yet to be explored, it is very likely that many more dive sites will be found in this still remote area.
Other attractions includes ancient rock paintings and caves off the island of Misool and the rare crimson bird of paradise on Waigeo,