Whether on vacation or a cruise, a diving trip in the north of the Raja Ampat archipelago will remain etched in your memory for a long time. It is the northern part of the archipelago that is the most visited. Even if we are very, very far from mass tourism, more and more small divers’ lodges are settling around the Dampier Strait.
The possibilities for diving in Raja Ampat are therefore much better than before. And it is precisely around this strait we find the most beautiful diving sites. In the heart of the Coral Triangle, this is where the largest variety of coral reefs in the world can be found! 75% of the corals listed in the world are in Raja Ampat. The currents that rush in here provide a lot of nutrients for the myriad of fish, and it will surprise you at how varied and much denser the fauna is than elsewhere.
A diving holiday in Raja Ampat promises you unforgettable memories, they rank this region of Indonesia among the most beautiful diving areas in the world.
Diving in Raja Ampat
Most of the northern Raja Ampat dive sites are concentrated in or around the Dampier Strait. These often dive in the current, therefore reserved for experienced divers. Over 30 sites have been listed at this location and are accessible to divers’ lodges. The more distant sites in the North or the center are accessible by diving cruises.
Dive sites in the Dampier Strait
Mios Kon is a magnificent coral garden with shimmering colors with all kinds of corals accompanied by multicolored nudibranchs and pygmy seahorses, but also schools of barracudas, yellow snappers, and the famous wobbegong shark (carpet shark).
Sardine Reef is one of the most famous dry drift dive sites in the world. The sandy bottoms, going up to 25m deep, offer a rather rare beauty with their sponges, soft corals, and gorgonians. You will come across an impressive amount of fish. Many schools of giant trevally, barracudas by the hundreds, king mackerel, surgeons, batfish, tuna, but also blacktip sharks or gray reef sharks. There will be something for everyone, from the smallest to the largest… but no sardines!
It is one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world!
Mike’s Point, is near the island of Gam, on the island of Kerupiar. It is renowned for its unique underwater landscape. One story goes that they bombed the island during the war. From above, it looked like a Japanese ship… camouflaged. Despite some landslides, the reef has been colonized by hard corals and soft corals, or even anemones. Divers photographers will be delighted by the diversity of species present on this site. This dive is not accessible to everyone, the currents are sometimes violent.
Melissa’s Garden is located northwest of the big island of Batanta. This site is made up of an enormous wall in which a passage forms which gives way to a real spectacle, a superb coral garden. There are many giant clams, a beautiful fixed fauna, and many sharks. In the evening, an active night fauna will be present, crabs of all kinds, lobsters, nudibranchs, and parades of mandarin fish at nightfall. It is a great dive for macro photographers.
Cape Kri. It is the house reef of Kri Island. It is in the North-East of the island. It was precisely here that marine biologist Gerry Allen recorded 374 different species in one dive. Cap Kri, therefore, holds the world record for biodiversity! This site is between the island of Kri and the island of Koh. The currents are many and converge a little in all directions, thus attracting a very abundant fauna.
You may come across large schools of jacks, fusiliers, blacktip sharks, hawksbill turtles, huge groupers, batfish, or even humpback parrots.
The show is more breathtaking before sunset. This is when the “little ones” and the “big ones” meet, with a backdrop of a coral reef in brilliant colors.
Blue Magic. This site is 15 minutes from Kri Island. The fauna is extremely dense, all encounters are possible! From the pygmy seahorse to the wobbegong shark, including green turtles and manta rays!
Pulau Wai is a dive site known for its wreckage, a WWII fighter plane. While schools of reef fish roam the corals, the alcyonarians cling to the walls of the ship. You can also observe the epaulet sculpin, carpet sharks, but also many nudibranchs, octopus, or stonefish. This site is superb for night dives.
It is at Manta Sandy, a real cleaning station, that you will have the chance to see one of the most beautiful ballets of black manta rays. Up to 10 manta rays jostle to arrive first at the cleaning station where the cleaning wrasses await them. This site is near the island of Mansuar. 30 minutes away another spot, Mandy Slope, also attracts many black manta rays.
It is important not to approach manta rays, because if they feel stressed by the diver, they may not return to the site.
Dive sites even further North
The passage is undoubtedly one of the most famous sites in Papua Barat. It is a narrow canyon that looks like a salt river between the islands of Waigeo and Gam, in the archipelago’s north. A veritable paradise for macro divers who will find multiple yellow gobies, shrimps, multicolored nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, toadfish, and sponges. This site is also home to magnificent humpback parrots, wrasse, barracudas, and white tip sharks. Because of the current, this dive is only for experienced divers.
Wofoh Island. Around these small islands, you can do 2 or 3 dives. On the western side, it is an immense wall called the Blue Wall, which tumbles down to 40m deep. The colors are superb. Hard corals, barrel sponges, and soft corals create a superb backdrop. The fauna is very abundant and there will be something for everyone: barracudas, surgeonfish, gray reef sharks, and a beautiful collection of nudibranchs.
On the other side of the island, the scenery is quite different. The place is called the Black Forest, because of the presence of black corals, very abundant. Here you will see many pygmy seahorses.
Fam Islands. These are a dozen limestone islets set on a huge translucent lagoon. The corals are fabulous and we regularly see manta rays and very large schools of barracuda. You can do several dives there. The reefs are illuminated by the fixed fauna, and all around, the fauna is very dense. There are many species of angelfish, fusiliers, porcelain crabs, sea snakes, titan triggerfish, and giant clams, which it seems, would be centuries old.
This small archipelago is probably the most photographed place in Raja Ampat. These are rocky islets set on limpid water, where all the shades of blue and green blend. The place is only accessible by boat. The translucent waters reveal beautiful coral formations. Wayag Island is famous for snorkeling sites, paradisiacal beaches, and its walks. By climbing on the highest mountain, the Pindito, you will admire this unique panorama in the world!