The second instalment of Tim's blog about the diving in Raja Ampat. It sounds pretty special. Read part 1.
There is more to Raja Ampat place than just diving
But back to Sorido. Saturday is the day of rest for the staff, but not for us. A 3.45am alarm call takes us on a 20 minute boat ride and a 30 minute night time jungle hike to the site of the Bird of Paradise, pretty much undisputedly the most gorgeous bird in the world. Here, along with Sir David Attenbrough, you have a real chance to see this elusive and shy bird, a sight not enjoyed by many Westerners. Whilst we were disappointed to miss his mating dance, none the less we did catch sight of him, extraordinary tail feathers and all, as well as green parrots, paroquet, and the giant and almost dinosauric Hornbill. Add the adorable Cuscus who stalks the upper branches of the trees behind your room and the monitor lizards that patrol the beach edge and you have an exotic zoo at your disposal.
But it’s the diving we love the most
Then back to our check out dive in the Blue Hole, just off the jetty with the ever helpful Jimmy, one half of the Julia and Jimmy management team. In fact, this is the mandarin fish dive provided you do it in the late afternoon, although we still saw a few taking a rest before their dusk dancing. I used to be so excited by these little fish, but set against this background of marine life, it is difficult to drum up the enthusiasm!
In the evening, after a simple but delicious local dinner, a night snorkel to find the beautiful and appealing walking or bamboo shark and also the rare bobtail squid right off your bungalow before the main action begins the next day.
Many of the sites have world acclaim. Blue Magic, Cape Kri, Sardines, Mikes and given our short stay we have only had a brief glimpse into this underwater paradise, but what a glimpse.
The marine life is simply stunning
Where else in ONE dive, appropriately named Blue Magic, can you see the extremes of the pygmy seahorse and the giant manta ray (6m) pretty much guaranteed. Add in a veritable broth of schooling jack, barracuda, some beautiful nudibranch and flatworms, mantis shrimp, black tip reef shark (Chinese still trying to get these and even more disturbingly now going after mantas for their stupid soup but so far fought off by Conservation International), wonderful soft and hard corals and a million other species waiting to be tripped over, and it is simply unbeatable. If anyone knows of anything better please let us know. In short we have never been on such fishy dives. Ever. Finally, something like you see on the TV documentaries.
Another dive, this time at Sardines, and we find ourselves in the middle of a herd of giant bumphead parottfish, these Goliaths munching their way through the reef and at the same time excreting clouds of sand which markedly reduce visibility so enormous are both they and their appetite. We have seen these many times in the past but never so large and never so close, and I think that this approachability is one of the secrets here. Due to the Marine Park status, the marine life is remarkably unafraid of divers so you get up close and personal with most species before they take gentle evasive action.
Raja Ampat is the best diving in the world
With vast schools of Jack swirling around you like a scene out of The Blue Planet this has to be diving at it's best. Also, bear in mind that Jimmy and Julia came from years in the Maldives, itself no slouch in the diving stakes, and they too confirm it is not even comparable and they have no idea where to go next as they feel they have scaled the diver's Everest.
We have not been lucky with the weather, no sun, rain and also the visibility has been poor. Despite this, it has certainly been amongst the very best diving we have ever experienced, if not the best, but when all this comes together, as it does mostly, it must be even more incredible and truly breathtaking, stunning, amazing, gobsmacking and fantastic.
We are now offering holidays to this world-beating diving paradise so get in touch to find out more.