Raja Ampat, which translates to The Four Kings in English, is made up four main islands. According to myth, these islands are where four kings ruled after hatching from the eggs of a megapode bird. It is these four islands; Waigeo, Salawate, Batanta, and Misool that make up the worlds largest repository of tropical marine life. Surrounding these islands of kings you’ll find hundreds of smaller clusters or islands which are further broken down into their own regions. One such island chain just of the northwest shores of Waigeo and straddling the equator is Kawe.
Kawe is one of Raja Ampat’s true gems and is loaded with some remarkable diving. The absence of boats, land based resorts and home stays only adds to the serenity of these equatorial (literally) islands. Though the area is quite small, Kawe touts an impressive amount of dive sites with each site offering an experience different than the last. The areas top sites however, are Eagle Rock, Black Rock, and Chango.
Diving at Eagle Rock you’re likely to spot mantas using the many cleaning stations or feeding on the surface in the channel between two of the islands. The deep end of the site is a labyrinth of gigantic boulders covered with an array of citrus colored soft coral where wobbegong sharks like to hide. Black Rock is well known for it’s profuse fish life and it’s fields of ancient black coral bushes. Kawe is also home to one site in particular which has just moved it’s way up to the top of my list of ‘Favorite Dive Sites.’ From the surface Chango is a small rock island/pinnacle with just a couple grubby trees on top.
But what Chango lacks in it’s surface appeal, it more than makes up for with it’s underwater attractions. Mega swarms of big-eye jacks wrap themselves around you as you explore the magnificent terrain below while schools of barracuda, batfish and penjalo snapper wait their turn to give your their own swirling embrace. All round the site huge boulders have piled up creating massive tunnels and swimthroughs which at times hard to locate as they tend to be full of fish!
Raja Ampat is a massive area and likely one of the few dive destinations in the world where there is still lots of room for underwater exploration. As dive operators all throughout the world become more and more complacent and tend to just stick with the routine sites, I can’t help but feel proud to be apart of the Mermaid fleet who still embrace exploration and continue to extend their already extensive knowledge of the Indonesian Archipelago.
Mermaid II Raja Ampat SCUBA Diving Cruise
Jan 9- 17, 2017
By Alex Lindbloom