Diving Raja Ampat, Indonesia Liveaboards
Raja Ampat aboard Indo Siren
Liveaboard diving in Indonesia
Manta by Stephan Zahn
Well I am pleased to say our first trip of 2012 got off to a smooth start with all passengers receiving their luggage and flights only slightly delayed. Our guests were mainly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland with a sprinkling of Danish, Swedish and English to add to the mix.For this trip we headed north first to visit the Mandarin Siren and also check out some “big birds”! As it turned out, 4 other boats were also checking out the “big birds” so we changed our schedule a little and dived on Arborek Pier first where we had a glimpse of our first walking shark- the epaulette – as well as checking out the giant clams and ornate ghost pipefish. Then it was over to Manta Sandy along with about 20 other divers to check out the big birds and we have 3 or 4 at any one time which was great. For the third dive of the day half of the divers opted to return to Manta Sandy whilst the others joined Frank on a salvage mission to retrieve items from the Mandarin Siren, which now sits in 30m of water. Our first day of diving was polished off with a sunset dive on Arobrek Pier, where schools of fish gather under the pier’s supports and many colourful nudibranchs can be found in the soft corals.
Day 2 and by popular request it was back to Manta Sandy for the first dive! Yes those “big birds” certainly had our divers enthralled, unfortunately the mantas were not playing and so it was more of a macro dive with robust pipe fish, garden eels and peacock/smashing mantis shrimp. On dive two on Mansaur, we were entertained with an amazing variety and abundance of fish action! Forget the small stuff this was all about the fish – jacks, snappers, bump heads, angel fish and many other species! Then it was off to Ayam Reef and Cape Kri where we let Frank depart early in the morning to return to Sorong. The next day was spent at Sardine Reef, Blue Magic and Mioskon. Three amazing dives with epaulette sharks and Wobbegongs, black tip sharks and even a marble ray. But don’t forget the small stuff…. Rivo managed to find a Pontohi seahorse! Not sure anyone else had the eyes for it but hopefully some of the camera lenses worked their magic! After a night dive on Friwinbonda we moved on up to Yangeffo to experience Mayhem and Citrus Ridge and then chill out on Way Pretty Shallows before heading south to Balbulolo. A 15 hour journey.
It was my first time in Balbulolo and it won’t be the last! The walls and soft corals are amazing – the colours and variety just beautiful! First we jumped on No Contest and even with the strong current we managed to find a protected area and enjoy the view! This was followed by Love Potion No. 9 and The Plateau. All were beautiful wide angle sites with loads of macro options including pigmy cuttlefish, squat lobsters, orang utan crabs and beautiful nudis. After the third dive we continued south to Wayil Batan for a night dive on Usy’s Reef where Rivo found us a blue ring octopus! Very jealous! The next morning was a day for pygmies- on all three dive sites – Dunia kecil, Batu kecil and of course Gorgonian Passage! Although I was very disappointed to see my sea fan with 9 pygmies on 2 trips ago is no longer…..
Whilst cruising over to Yellit for the night dive we did Sails up for the guests to enjoy from the dinghy. Misool – Fiabacet Calling! Currents had picked up as coming close to the full moon but this meant more fish action which was great! We started with Whale Rock to find some protection. The visibility was amazing after the rain the night before – 30m+. The second dive was on Nudi rock which has to be one of my favourites in that area and it didn’t disappoint, with pygmy denise, octopus, giant potato cod, a lot of fish action and much much more. Tank Rock has some crazy currents but we still managed to see the very special pygmy SP, as well as the hippocampus denise then back to Whale Rock for a night dive ……….
The last full day of diving and it didn’t disappoint with amazing dives on Boo Windows, Boo East and the over to Karang Bayangan to have fun with some baby sharks! They are soooooo cute you just want to take them home with you! But of course we didn’t …. We completed the day with a sunset dive on the windows where we had big and small for everyone to enjoy.
Early start for the captain, as we started to move to boat to travel to Daram at 3:30am, arriving just in time to check the currents and jump in for our last dive in Raja Ampat… On the very special Andiamo! The currents played nicely for us and we managed to hang out with the barracuda, fusilier, jack fish and bait fish for 45mins then continued our dive to the main island for more beautiful corals! As it was the last dive of the trip we completed an 80 min dive! Bliss!
Then it was time for the very very very long trip back to Sorong – 16 hours in total! The conditions were nice to us though with a relatively smooth sailing all the way back.
During the trip we celebrated some milestone dives with Ingrid and Irmela completing their 500th dives onboard and Ulla her 300th and on the very last day Martina completed her 600th!!! Congrats guys and here’s to many more dives to come!