RAJA AMPAT – TRITON BAY
12 Days/11 Nights Sorong – Kaimana Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Embarkation in Sorong
Raja Ampat means ‘Four Kings’. In an archipelago of over 1,500 small islands there are four main islands or ‘kings’– Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta, Misool. The majority of Raja Ampat is in Marine Protected Areas. These islands usually experience varying visibility depending on the weather conditions and warm water around 27-30C (81-86F).
Day 2 Dampier Strait (4 dives)
The strait that flows between Waigeo and Batanta is rapidly becoming known as having really good diving in Raja Ampat as a result of the nutrient-rich ocean currents passing through. Everything that makes for a wonderful dive can be found here. But even beyond the usual delights and the satisfaction of spotting prized macro subjects such as the newly discovered Pontohi pygmy seahorse on the coral heads, there are surprises to be found in every dive.
The fish life in this area is as plentiful as can be expected at sites with a great deal of healthy hard and soft coral. Wobbegong sharks can also be found at any of these dive sites, especially at Mioskon. Cape Kri holds the impressive record of 374 fish species identified during one 90-minute dive. Blue Magic is a submerged seamount where there is a chance to encounter Giant manta rays.
Ironically, sardines are about the only reef fish not found at the site of Sardine Reef, but you won’t even notice as you see swarms of fusiliers, surgeonfish, trevallies, rainbow runners, sweetlips and bannerfish practically blocking out the sky swarming over a reef decorated with sea fans, soft corals and huge orange elephant ear sponges encrusted with pastel colonies of tunicates. One of the more unique thrills of this site is being able to hear “fish thunder” – the loud booming sound made when a large number of fish move rapidly through open water.
There is also a small village with Sawandarek Jetty. In the shallows the jetty posts are covered in soft corals and below look for sweetlips, big eyed jacks and massive green turtles. On the reef see huge giant clams nestled among pulsing soft corals. At night look for huge lobsters and maybe even catch a glimpse of the endemic epaulette shark, the ‘walking’ shark. The reef also provides shelter for many interesting small animals like hermit crabs, flatworms and the very cute pughead pipefish.
Between the dives there is an opportunity to visit the village on Sawandarek Island to see the traditional way of life for these island people. Be ready to be greeted by many children who are more than willing to pose for photographs.
Anyone joining our cruise is more than welcome to bring along some goodies for the children at Sawandarek. Obviously the children love sweets but we encourage people to bring pencils, pens, notebooks or coloring books – all of which don’t rot their teeth! The school always needs more materials and the girls love hair clips and bands. Please try to limit the amount of plastic packaging, leave this at home where it can be correctly recycled.
Day 3 Penemu (2 dives)
We will travel to the beautiful area of Penemu before travelling south to Misool. Penemu is an island west of Waigeo with a selection of dives sites. Melissa’s Garden is the most well known. Here there are very healthy hard coral reefs in the shallows and a beautiful coral garden sloping to the sides where schooling fish hang out in the current. Wobbegong sharks like to sleep under the coral heads and inside the large cup corals here. Hundreds of anthias dance in and out of the corals where you might also see a sea snake. Penemu Wall and My Reef are also great dives in this area.. After the two morning dives we will visit the viewpoint in Penemu where you can appreciate the iconic Raja Ampat view of the groups of islands nestled inside beautiful blue lagoons. Check out our Beaches & Islands album.
Days 4-6 Misool, Raja Ampat (12 dives)
Misool is in the south of Raja Ampat and we will dive at the many small islands in the southeast. Over the past years Misool has become Raja Ampat best diving area, being famous for the profusion of colorful soft corals, sea fans beautifully draped all over the reefs and a huge amount of all kind of fishes on every single dive. Take a look at some photos taken in this area in our album Soft Coral Heaven.
The islands in southeast Misool are grouped by areas. Here are the names of the areas and dive sites we may visit (weather permitting):
Misool – Boo Area
Boo Windows is the famous dive site in this area. It is best known for the “windows” or rounded openings on the end of the largest rock that completely pierce the reef from the surface down to about five meters/fifteen feet. Although the two rocks appear separate from the surface they are in fact connected underwater by a magnificent reef draped in soft corals and brimming with fish. See photos of the Windows here. Boo Ridge is an underwater ridge coming off the eastern point of Boo Island. Both sides are covered in huge gorgonian sea fans. At these dive sites look out for turtles, reef sharks, pygmies, nudis and schooling batfish, fusiliers and snappers. Shadow Reef is a submerged seamount south of Boo. The fish life here is profuse with napoleon wrasses of all sizes, baby white tip reef sharks sleeping under the table corals, schooling barracuda and batfish and for the lucky ones maybe a manta ray circling the cleaning stations. Birthday Cake is a beautiful ridge in the Boo Area. Look for pygmy seahorses, flatworms and nudibranch in the deeper section and beautiful soft corals in the shallows, where we even have seen the famous “walking shark” – epaulette shark. Eagle Nest is a seamount close to the island of Warakaraket. With the right current we have been lucky to see lots of fish action, including grey reef sharks, giant travellies hunting in clouds of fusiliers and even manta rays.
Misool – Yuliet Area
The tiny islands of Yuliet and Romeo both have surrounding plateaux in the shallows that slope down to reefs or small walls. At Yuliet there is a good chance to see the ‘Santa Claus pygmy’ a red colour variation of the Denise pygmy seahorse. In the shallows are large coral heads completely covered in colourful soft corals. Schools of barracuda and batfish as well as napoleon wrasses are often seen here. Romeo is a great night dive where we will look for the endemic epaulette shark, the ‘walking’ shark.
Misool – Fiabecet
Fiabecet area has a selection of dives where the colourful soft corals and beautiful sea fans literally smother the reefs. The soft corals here are truly outstanding. There is a deep underwater ridge connecting the island of Boo in the east to the island of Kalig in the west. In parts this ridge moves up shallower and forms the dive sites of Boo West Corner, Batu Kecil (aka Tank Rock), Nudi Rock, Whale Rock and Kalig Ridge. Expect healthy fish life, pygmy seahorses galore, nudis, colourful anemones, reef sharks and perhaps a Wobbegong shark. Anti-chovy is a large underwater seamount with some deep pinnacles covered in stunning corals. Mobula rays, golden trevallies and Napoleon wrasses can be found here. On top of the seamount look for turtles, stonefish and reef octopus.
Misool – Wayilbatan Area
Neptune Fan Sea is a small channel between two islands with a shallow wall completely covered in some of the biggest gorgonian sea fans you will ever see. At the start of the dive explore the beautiful coral heads where huge groupers can be hiding. Then drift along the wall and enjoy the view of the sea fans, stopping once in a while to find the tiny pygmy seahorse. Four Kings is a stunning dive site made up of four underwater pinnacles. Swim from one rock to the next enjoying the soft corals and fish life. Look out for schooling big eye jacks, spadefishes and grey reef sharks. Wedding Cake, Dunia Kecil and Wayili Rock offer chances to see schools of batfish, trevallies, barracuda, pygmy seahorses and reef octopus.
Misool – Daram Area
Daram is the most easterly point of the islands we might visit in Misool. The reef at Andiamo is stunning and is large enough for at least two dives. There is a submerged pinnacle where sea fans are surrounded by schools of fusiliers and batfish. A short swim across a sandy bottom brings you to the main reef lush with soft corals. In between the two islets is a gap thick with sea fans and is excellent for wide-angle photography. Look out for black tip reef sharks and napoleon wrasse, if you can see them through all the fish! Candy Store is so named because the first divers to explore this reef felt like kids in a candy store. Huge sponges, beautiful soft corals and sea fans cover this dive site, especially in the valleys where schools of fusiliers, butterfly fish and sometimes barracuda gather. Warna Berwarna in Bahasa Indonesia means “Vibrant Colors”. Expect to see sea fans in all possible colors and watch out for pygmy seahorses. On the northwestern side of the island there is a beautiful ridge coming out where tons of fusiliers and orange spotted trevallies hang out in the blue. The shallows are covered with healthy hard corals and often we get to see schooling bumphead parrotfishes.
Misool – Sagof
The little islets of Baby Rock and Two Tree Island create amazing dive sites with abundant fish life. There is a resident school of batfish at Baby Rock and Two Tree Island is often full of thousands bait fish. The Watch Towers is a massive seamount with tons of black coral in the deeper section. Schools of yellow snappers, barracudas and giant trevallies can be found in the up-current side. On the hard coral plateau look out for wobbegong sharks and crocodile fish.
Day 7 Pulau Pisang (2-3 dives)
This group of islands are in the middle of Arafura Sea and will be our first stop after Misool on our way to Triton Bay. Pulau Pisang means Banana Island. The big island is call Pulau Sabuda and then there is a group of small islands on the south side where we will do our day of diving. T-Bone dive site is a ridge coming out from the middle part of one of the little islands. You can start the dive around 15-20 ft and then follow the ridge until the corner where it becomes a slope with a lot of elephant ear sponges on the deepest section. There are some big sea fans and different soft and hard corals in the shallows. This place is very special for one thing – you can find the Jamal’s dottyback. A tiny fish discovered in 2012 and only seen in Pisang and Fak-Fak. This is also good place to look for different anthias, gobies in the deeper part and fusiliers on the shallows. The Dome is a big seamount. The shallows drop very deep into a slope and walls at the sides. There are many fusiliers around the shallows and walls plus schools of black and midnight snappers. Look under the rocks for lobsters.
Day 8 Fak Fak/Momon Island or Papisoi (2-3 dives)
Next stop after Pisang Island will be Fak-Fak or Papisoi depending on the weather conditions. Normally Fak-Fak is more exposed to the winds and swells and in Papisoi you can find more protection.
In Fak-Fak there is a beautiful waterfall where you can go by tenders and if there is no big swells you can even swim around. The water normally is cold around the waterfall and you can try to get to the back from the left side where you will find a little cave where you can enjoy looking at the waterfall without getting wet.
On the bigger island there is a ridge with a shallow plateau that then drops down to slopes on both sides. Look there for different gobies. The shallow part is covered with some hard corals and brown soft corals and normally fusiliers playing around and a beautiful school of yellow snappers. The closer you get to the island on the shallow plateau the more sand will be there and the corner of the ridge is a nice place to look in case some pelagic fish are around. Mommon is a little peninsula in Sanggala Bay very close to the waterfall area. On the sandy slope you can find twin spot gobies and nice critters plus some healthy corals in the shallows.
At Tanjung Papisoi you will find a slope area with rocks and some sea fans. One of the most known fish experts, Dr Gerry Allen, broke his record of most species of fish counted in one single dive in this area – the total was 330 species. Here we look around for nudibranch, sweetlips and Bargibanti pygmy seahorses. In the shallows we have found the shy red spotted goby. There is a village on the big island and in front of the beach there are two rocks where we will do the third dive of the day. Here we can see big napoleons wrasses, schools of surgeon fish, some groupers, schooling fusiliers, longnose emperors and perhaps even a marbled stingray. Also look here for some gobies and nudibranchs. Nusawulan is good for a night dive. We have seen the endemic Triton walking shark and Spanish dancers.
Days 9-10 Triton Bay (8 dives)
We call this area Triton Bay but we don’t actually dive inside Triton Bay itself! The bay is very close to the main island of West Papua and therefore has very bad visibility. Most of the dive sites are located in the strait created by the island of Aiduma and south West Papua.
This dive site was named by divers in memory of Larry Smith one of the pioneers of Triton Bay. It was previously named as Little Komodo by Larry. The southern part of the site is a gentle slope with big boulders. The slopes transform into a mini wall towards the east. All the boulders and the mini wall are completely covered in soft corals like you have never seen before. Look for flasher wrasse and sand divers in the sandy slope on the south west. With sweetlips and anthias decorating the reef with their marvellous colours, this site is the most popular dive in Triton Bay.
A perfect dive site for an afternoon or night dive depending on the current. Here you will be critter hunting along the bottom of the site. Look in the soft corals, you may find one of the most camouflaged crabs in the sea, the Candy Crab. Also, there is an opportunity to see the elegant walking shark (Epaulette shark).
Bo’s Rainbow is a small rock on the surface but a huge area underwater waiting for divers to discover all the macro marine life and enjoy the formations of this site. All the boulders are completely covered in soft corals and the gentle slope is covered in black coral. Look for ghost pipefish and saw-blade shrimps in the black coral bushes. Up in the shallows there is a swim through that offers a perfect place for wobbegong sharks to rest during the day.
Another great dive site that Triton Bay has to offer is Flasher Beach and it’s not for the beauty of the location but for the marine life. The name Flasher Beach comes from the amount of different species of flasher wrasse you can encounter on any dive. With luck you might get to see the endemic Triton Bay Flasher Wrasse (Parachieilinus nursalim).
Day 11 Mai Mai (snorkelling with whale sharks)
During our last day of the trip we will visit a small village called Mai Mai off the island of Namatote where there are fishing platforms called Bagans. The fishermen here have created an amazing relationship with the biggest fish of the ocean – the Whale Shark. We have to wait until around 8 or 9 am for the whale sharks to hopefully arrive and for the fishermen to be ready with the morning breakfast for the sharks. The giant gentle whale sharks allow us to get into the water with snorkelling gear only to enjoy the presence of these amazing wonders of the sea. This is an unforgettable experience. It takes time for the dive masters and cruise directors to arrange everything with the village and fishermen but the waiting is absolutely worth it.
Day 12 Disembarkation in Kaimana
Total dives: 30-32 dives