Raja Ampat literally has it all, big fish, small fish, mangroves, pristine reefs and my new favorite, caves. One of the best sets of caves in Raja and a frequent dive spot for Mermaid II can be found in on the dive site called Goa Farondi.
The dive starts on a shallow soft coral reef that leads to a long sloping tunnel that goes from five meters down to about twenty five meters. Inside the tunnel you could park a small air craft so all of you who are a bit claustrophobic or nervous about the ideas of caves…have no worries. The bottom is covered in white sand but it’s difficult to see because of all the sea fans and barrel sponges that have found roots on the gently sloping floor. When your torch illuminates the walls and ceiling you’ll see it’s also blanketed with brilliant yellow and red soft corals which are naturally attracted to the darker areas of reefs. Its a photographers dream. You emerge from this long Rastafarian colored tunnel and swim along a wall also covered in sea fans and red and purple soft coral you’ll find yourself at another grandiose opening. Beneath the stalactite walls of the cave the bottom looks like a Japanese sand garden with it’s almost strategically places soft coral bommies set on the contrasting white sand where Tiger Shrimp and unusual Signal Gobies have made their homes.
This immense cavern is the perfect place to do your safety stop as the dancing celestial lighting from above is memorizing and thee minutes goes like three seconds. But just because it’s time to ascend doesn’t mean the dive is over, the best is still yet to come. Still inside the the tranquil walls of this Goa Farondi Cave you can ascend because the dome shaped ceiling of the cave extends well beyond the surface. The first time I surfaced in the cave I was apprehensive about what would be on the other side of the rippling surface, but as I emerged I couldn’t help but gasp in amazement at where I was.
Stalactites and other unusual limestone formations cover a huge arching ceiling and give you the impression the whole thing is made of dripping wax. You don’t even need a torch because there is a football sized hole in the ceiling that lets in just enough light to illuminate the natural beauty of this giant room. It’s a truly fantastic and unique experience and now you can tell your friends what the inside of an island looks like.
Mermaid II Videographer