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Cenderawasih: Hotspot for Diving in The Coral Triangle

by Tijana

Recently, the bay of Cenderawasih has opened to diving cruises. This region, completely unexplored, became the largest Indonesian Marine Park in 2002. It is located northeast of Papua Barat. This park protects mangroves, tropical forests, coral reefs, turtles, dugongs, and many endemic species.


Cenderawasih means “bird of paradise” in Indonesian. A promising name for a completely unexplored region, lush jungle, pristine beaches, and incredibly rich seabed.

If the destination is completely confidential to tourists or even to divers, this was not the case during WWII. The bay of Cenderawasih, so quiet, was the scene of many battles. The Japanese invaded the region in 1942, then recaptured by the allies in 1944. There are many wrecks in the bay, planes, or boats. The jungle, which seemed impenetrable, still keeps some vestiges of this Japanese occupation.

And if now many cruise passengers offer diving holidays in the Cenderawasih region, it is also to discover the whale sharks, present all year round, and in large numbers.

This beautiful region, forgotten by mass tourism, is fast becoming a hotspot for diving in the coral triangle.

Diving in Cenderawasih Bay

Cenderawasih has 3 major assets: incredibly beautiful and dense fixed fauna, WWII wrecks, and whale sharks present in great numbers.

It represents all the fauna of Indonesia, with the icing on the cake, many endemic species.

Dive sites in Cenderawasih Bay

Numfoor. It is a superb wall covered with a beautiful fixed fauna. The current attracts a very dense fauna, so there are large schools of fusiliers, barracudas, tunas, groupers, snappers, but also white tip sharks and gray reef sharks.

Yappen Island offers beautiful underwater architecture. It is a submarine mount with a large plateau that slopes gently. Soft corals have completely colonized the wall and the plateau. On the descent, we observe beautiful coral potatoes.

Mangguar, south of the bay. It is one of the most beautiful sites in Cenderawasih. It is the meeting place for all the fauna of the region. It is a real aquarium. The corals are remarkable: hard corals, soft corals, gorgonian whips, barrel sponges, acropora cover the reef. You will not know where to look, because this wonderful garden is home to an enormous amount of wildlife: barracudas, sharks, manta rays, and mobula rays. A superb dive!

Pulau Roon

There are 2 dive sites around Roon Island:

Tanjung Ayumi in the island’s north is characterized by enormous blocks of stone. Here we see riflemen, humpback parrots, and ribbons in the sand.

Pulau Ari offers a different underwater landscape with a ridge and 2 rocksHere again, the corals are remarkable, very colorful. The fauna abounds, we observe giant morays and lobsters, among others.

Cenderawasih Wrecks

If about twenty wrecks have been listed, few are accessible to divers. Those who are the most visited are still incredibly beautiful.

Shinwa Maru. It is the wreck that is closest to Manokwari. It is a large cargo ship that lies near the port. It is now a superb artificial reef colonized by corals and huge sponges. It is well preserved and inhabited by very dense fauna, such as moray eels and nudibranchs.

Manim Islands, near Numfoor, are home to 7 wrecks colonized by corals. The first wreck is 5m deep.

Cross Wreck is a 40m long patrol boat, which rests 19m deep on a sandy bottom. This wreck is interesting and well preserved, you can see the dining room. The site is famous for its macrofauna.

Fying Catalina. It is a plane wreck which is in front of the port of Biak. It is very well preserved, and it sits 19 m deep in one piece. It is colonized by gorgonians and inhabited by lionfish and shrimp.

Cenderawasih Whale Sharks

South of Cenderawasih Bay, another spectacle awaits you. Fishers live on large platforms called “bagans” and fish almost day and night. They attract the anchovies in their hanging nets, which the whale sharks come to suck up to enjoy a meal much larger than the plankton. This eating behavior is quite surprising because it is unusual. The species is sacred, and their presence is a sign of luck for fishers. Dive boats stop nearby, and you can dive with these giants. The opportunity to take beautiful photos of interactivity between the fisher and the animal.

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