Trip Reports

Apr 27, 2017

Raja Manta Explores New Waters

This trip would bring to an end another terrific season in the magical diver’s paradise of Raja Ampat and whilst we are always sad to leave such an amazing place we knew that after two days exploring the best of Raja Ampat we would be sailing across the Halmehera Sea to Manado and the Raja Manta crew were just as excited as our guests to explore a new route that very few dive boats follow!

Our first two days were spent in Raja Ampat, where classic sites such as Blue Magic, Mios Kon, Cape Kri, Boo Windows and Nudi Rock impressed our divers with rainbow coloured corals and dense schools of fish. Enjoying the Oceanic Manta’s at Magic Mountain provided the perfect send off.

After waving a fond farewell to the waters of Raja Ampat we then sailed 100 miles to the West to start our exploration arriving for a full days diving around Pulau Pisang’s reefs. We were pleased to discover steep slopes carpeted in multi coloured Dendrophylia soft corals and beautiful intact hard coral gardens in the shallows at Pisang. Most of the time there were Dogtooth Tuna and Spanish Mackeral patrolling the slopes chasing the schools of Sleek Surgeonfish and Banner fish.

On day 5 we arrived in the Halmahera region and dived in the Bacatan area. Dives at Shark Point produced the goods,40m viz, plenty of Black Tip Reef Sharks, a large pregnant White Tip, full sized Napolean Wrasse and what impressed us most was the huge school of Big Eye Trevally and Black Fin Barracuda. We met some very friendly locals with whom we exchanged coconuts for fuel. We did a night dive in front of the village, our razor sharp eyed guides found the amazing Wonderpus octopus, multiple ‘giant’ spearing Mantis Shrimps and some strange crabs.

Day 6 we explored the Patientie Strait of West Halmahera. We had some exhilarating current dives and found reefs with coral and fish diversity seemingly equal to Raja Ampat.

Day 7 we moved North to the Gorachi Islands. Our afternoon dive at Yellow Wall was amazing with Reef Sharks,Hawksbill and Green Turtles and plenty of other big fish.

Day 8 we sailed further West across the open Ocean to a very remote island called Tifore. We dived on a seamount so good we dived it 3 times and each time our divers surfaced with ecstatic grins, requesting to head back down as soon as possible! Dense schools of Fusiliers and Surgeonfish dodged invading Dogtooth Tunas, as they changed direction in unison they created an underwater shockwave, which boomed through the open water, sounding something like thunder. We saw massive schools of Black and Midnight Snappers, we think that these were actually spawning aggregations triggered by the New Moon lunar phase. The highlight of the Tifore sea mount was the immense school of Barracuda and Big Eye Jacks, the biggest our Dive Masters have ever seen in their lives. On the 3rd dive our divers were treated to a performance as the Jacks and Barracuda formed Tornado’s and the 2 schools even came together several times, blocking out the sun’s rays.

Day 9 we arrived in the Capital of Critters, Lembeh Strait. 3 dives in the strait produced, Painted Frogfish, Giant Frogfish, Thorny Seahorse, Spanner Crabs, colorful Nudibranchs and Cuttlefish. The last evening was spent enjoying the sunset and drinks.

For our first exploration of the Halmehera Sea, crossing from Raja Ampat to Lembeh all of our guests and crew agreed that we had been lucky enough to enjoy spectacular diving and stunning landscapes. Each and everyone of us cannot wait for the chance to return to these divesites as we are sure there is even much more to discover in this region.


Trip: WMCROSS 18-27-Apr 2017 Raja Ampat-Halmahera-Lembeh
Author: Ross Pooley