Diving in Raja Ampat
Located off the northwest tip of Bird's Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in the province of West Papua, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, caves, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and the smaller island of Kofiau.
Raja Ampat is a new regency which separated from Sorong Regency in 2004. It encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest national marine park in Indonesia. It is a part of West Papua, which was formerly known as Irian Jaya. Some of the islands are the northernmost pieces of land in the Australian continent.
What to see
Raja Ampat is all about diversity - not only diversity of species, but also of dive sites. There are some areas where soft corals and sea fans dominate, others with hard corals, seagrass beds, mangroves, shallow reefs, drop offs, caves, black sand and white sand…and there are more species of fish life here anywhere else in the world. Here, all the levels of the food chain are well represented – from pygmy seahorses to top predators. In many places brightly colored soft corals can be found close to the surface which, illuminated by natural sunlight, make these dive sites spectacularly colorful. The reefs in Raja Ampat just buzz with life!
The stunning beauty of Raja Ampat's exotic & enchanting islands will leave your camera full. Take extra memory sticks for the underwater scenery; great visibility, pristine waters, healthy reefs and a dazzling array of marine life promise pretty pictures indeed!
The jewel of Raja Ampat is found further down south. Misool is also a place of great bio-diversity and wonderful cave diving opportunities. Do take time to experience both the north and the south islands of Raja Ampat.
There is no best or worst time for Irian Jaya diving. Conditions remain largely the same throughout the year.
Occasionally the sea might pick up a little at Raja Ampat between the months of July and September but these are only minor swells which should not cause you much inconvenience.
More information on how to get there here.