Raja Ampat is a massive area with over six-hundred islands and occupying forty-thousand square kilometers in the heart of the coral triangle. With so many islands in such a large area, you could easily spend an entire trip in just one area and not dive in the same place twice. However, with so many unique regions to the Marine Protected Area, we think it’s best to give you a taste for each of Raja’s famed areas, from the very north to the deep south in Misool. With so much distance between the different regions it can be a bit time consuming, unless you’re on one of Mermaid Liveaboard’s luxury steel ships, which are some of the fastest in the park and built for traveling long distances effortlessly.
This is precisely what we did last week aboard Mermaid II as we started in the northern part of Raja Ampat moving between Kawe’s stunning black coral forests where mantas swirled above us as they fed on the plankton rich waters, to the notorious Dampier straight where we mingled once again with five meter oceanic mantas and shoals of jack fish. It was also in the Dampier Straight where we dived beneath several jetties which are known for their high critter densities. Beneath these wood structures we found frogfish, blue ringed octopus, pairs of ghost pipefish, and a flamboyant cuttle fish hunting!
Moving a bit further south into Penemu we drifted through channels with some of Raja’s most pristine hard coral reefs where the wobbegongs lurk. Penemu is also famous for it’s viewpoint which looks out over the iconic lagoon system comprised of turquoise water and hundreds of tiny karst islands.
Another smooth cruise to Raja’s very southern perimeter brought us to Misool, the crown jewel of the area. It was here where we dived around the small islands and sea mounts where every inch of the stunning subterranean topography is covered in sea fans and a riot of brilliant soft coral. Reef sharks and more mantas escorted us along our dives while clouds of colorful reef fish danced in the blue. During the surface intervals we explored Misool’s intensely beautiful lagoon systems by dinghies and even witnessed a school of grey reef sharks accompanied by a massive marlin as they investigated a floating log! Raja
Ampat offers so much to see, with each region holding it’s own little secrets, it seems a shame to only concentrate your time in one area. Luckily with Mermaid’s vast knowledge of Raja Ampat and equipped with boats to comfortably bring you to the far corners of the park so you can witness the absolute best of Raja Ampat!
Mermaid II, Raja Ampat Diving Cruise
January 9-17, 2018