Destination: Raja Ampat
Note: This itinerary may vary depending on weather conditions, flight timetables and other unforeseen circumstances.
After boarding Tiaré you’ll embark on the journey of a lifetime about 12 o’clock from Sorong into the waters of Raja Ampat. Raja Ampat means ‘Four Kings’, referring to the 4 main islands of Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta, Misool (there are actually over 1,500 small islands). Most of Raja Ampat is protected by the Indonesian government so you can expect pristine corals and an abundance of sea life. Of course visibility can vary depending on the weather conditions, but water temperatures stay around 27-30°c (81-86°f).
The first two dives of the day are at Manta Sandy, well-known to divers as it is one of the most consistent spots for finding congregating mantas. It is easy to spend a whole dive observing these majestic animals as they somersault through the water while being cleaned by several species of wrasse and even butterfly fish. They also come to feed on plankton carried along by the currents, so can be seen on the surface as well. With a bit of luck you’ll witness the unforgettable sight of a ”manta train”, where half a dozen or more mantas glide around feeding. Your afternoon and night dives are at Arborek Jetty. In the shallows the jetty posts are covered in soft corals and further down you’re likely to see pipefish and cuttlefish. Watch local children jumping off the jetty and smiling for your cameras and even join in the fun! On the reef giant clams nestle in the pulsing soft corals and at search for blue ringed octopus, hermit crabs, skeleton shrimp and flatworms. At night you might even be able to hear toadfish croaking. Between dives you will have the chance to visit the village on Arborek Island to discover the very traditional way of life these island people live. Bring along some little presents like writing or colouring supplies or hair accessories for the kids of the village and you’ll see them light with smiles like you’ve never seen before.
Day 3, 4, & 5
On days 3, 4 and 5 you’ll be in the Gam or Penemu areas diving the many extraordinary sites there.
Between Gam and Yanggelo Islands, Citrus Ridge offers gorgeous white sand contrasting the yellow and orange corals that teem with glassfish, sweetlips and batfish. Moving on to Takat Yanggelo (north & south) you’ll see similar species as well as huge schools of snappers, barracuda and fusiliers. Dive with black and white tip sharks at Woebegone and also have a search for the tricky blue ringed octopus. Still between the 2 islands, Mangrove Ridge is a ridge extending out from Tangelo covered in black corals and huge sea fans. Explore the shallows of the mangroves where many species of juvenile fish, cardinal fish and archerfish hide in the roots of the trees. You’ll then head to Penemu, an island west of Waigeo with a selection of dives sites, the most famous being Melissa’s Garden. Shallow hard coral reefs here are home to hundreds of anthias dance and also sea snakes. The long, submerged seamount at Takat Penemu has a beautiful coral garden sloping to where where schools of fish hang out in the currents. Have a peek inside the large cup corals where Wobbegong sharks like to sleep, and visit Penemu Wall, My Reef and Harto’s Reef for more incredible sights. At Penemu Island you will also have the chance to stop and climb to the highest point of the island to admire the entire lagoon from above.
Day 6, 7 & 8
The Dampier Strait, located between Waigeo and Batanta Islands is known to have some of the most nutrient-rich and spectacular diving in Raja Ampat. The currents passing through the strait make for the perfect diving situation and you can expect to see incredible corals housing just about every species of fish as well as prized macro subjects like the recently discovered Pontohi pygmy seahorse.
Sardine Reef is a popular dive spot, which ironically isn’t home to any sardines. However, you will see a stunning reef covered in huge sea fans, soft corals, enormous orange elephant ear sponges and schools of fusiliers, surgeonfish, trevallies, rainbow runners, sweetlips and bannerfish. In fact, at this site the fish are so abundant you may hear the unique sound of “fish thunder” – the surprisingly loud sound of a large number of fish moving in synchronisity. Other dives in Dampier Strait include Chicken Reef, Kerupiar Island and Friwin Bonda. Dives over these 3 days will also include Cape Kri, which holds the impressive record of 374 fish species identified during one 90-minute dive, Otdima Reef and Blue Magic. This is a submerged seamount where you may encounter giant manta rays. Saonek Jetty or Jembeser Jetty are ideal for night dives; you’ll have the chance to see bobtail squid, octopus, stargazers, ghost pipefish, toadfish and lots of nudibranchs at these sites. If you’d also like to see some of the incredible animal life above water, take a hike in the jungle to see Papua’s famous Birds of Paradise. There will be an extra charge for this tour and it is dependent on the weather and all of the guest’s preferences. Depending on the weather conditions and flight times the next day, the last full day of the cruise will include 1 or 2 dives at one of the above sites. After the dives you’ll cruise back to Sorong.
Say goodbye to your crew over one last Tiaré breakfast and then head on to the airport in Sorong for your outbound flight.
IT’S ALL AROUND YOU