Indonesia’s Raja Ampat islands have become one of the most famous places to go diving in all of Asia thanks to the area’s pristine coral reefs and incredible diversity of marine life. In February 2008 I went on the MSY Seahorse’s 11 day diving liveaboard from Raja Ampat to Triton Bay, exploring the amazing underwater world of western Papua.
Raja Ampat and Triton Bay Diving: We visited four main areas on the 11 day cruise along western Papua in Indonesia: Raja Ampat’s Kri and Misool islands, Fak Fak and Triton Bay. All of these places are justifiably famous for jawdropping coral reefs and fish life. The Bird’s Head Peninsula of Western Papua (the sticky out bit in which Sorong is located) has been scientifically assessed to have the greatest marine biodiversity in the world. For divers, this means it’s an unparalleled experience in terms of the sheer overwhelming number of marine species you can spot whilst diving. Indeed, scores of new species have been discovered here, some so new they still don’t have names, and some so bizarre you’d think the scientists are making it up, like the walking shark.
While Raja’s remoteness used to mean it was a deeply obscure destination, the word is now out. Hardly a month goes by without a rave review in one of the dive magazines. Despite requiring multiple flights on domestic Indonesian airlines to get there, Raja has seen a big growth in liveaboard and resort operators in the last couple of years. Max Ammer, the former Dutch paratrooper who pioneered Papua Diving’s Kri resort has now opened the deluxe Sorido Bay resort in the Kri area, while the Misool Eco Resort is due to open later in 2008.
The good news is that despite Raja’s newfound popularity, its big enough and still remote enough to not encounter other divers or even other boats. This is especially true once heading out of Raja Ampat proper down towards Fak Fak and Triton Bay.
Triton Bay is a new area of Papua for diving - the visibility here is generally quite poor (5 to 10 metres) due to the incredibly nutrient-rich water, which means that it has tremendous soft coral growth and lots of schooling fish. One of Triton’s dive sites is named Larry’s Heaven in honour of Indonesian dive pioneer Larry Smith who sadly died in March 2007. Larry made two trips to Triton and proclaimed to be in love with the diving here. High praise from a man who had dived pretty much all of Indonesia.