The Best of Raja Ampat
This three-week trip will allow you to access all the best dive sites in Raja Ampat in Indonesia. First, relax at a beachfront bolthole in the Dampier Strait, exploring the nearby islands and inland jungle before boarding a luxury liveaboard to dive Raja Ampat's most remote, pristine sites. This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Dive the extremely fishy, colourful reefs of Misool in the south of Raja Ampat
- Climb mountains for spectacular vistas over the lagoons and islands that characterise this region
- Dive the most biodiverse reefs in the world
- Watch as majestic mantas circle over you at cleaning stations and hone your photography skills capturing camouflaged macro critters as you tick off the full spectrum of marine creatures
Why Book with Original Diving?
When To Travel
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Day 1: International Flight
This evening you'll embark on the trip of a lifetime as you venture to one of the best diving destinations in the world, Raja Ampat.
Enjoy a drink and dinner in the lounge, just one of the perks of travelling with Original Diving, before boarding your overnight flight to Jakarta. The flight will take around 16 and a half hours, transitioning through Singapore en route.
Day 2: Pit Stop in Jakarta
After arriving into Jakarta in the late afternoon you will have a few hours to wait before your flight on to Sorong in the early hours of the morning. During this time we can organise for you to have access to a lounge to relax between flights.
Day 3: Arrival into Raja Ampat
This morning you will take the early morning flight into Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat.
Upon arrival you will be met by your driver and transferred to the harbour to catch a boat to the resort, which will take around two hours. During this time take in your surroundings as you cruise past uninhabited emerald islands and karsts. Keep your eyes peeled on the turquoise ocean for dolphins playing in the boat's wake.
You will be greeted off the boat and shown to your beautiful overwater villa, your home for the next week. Papua Explorers is located on the Dampier Strait on Gam island, so you're on the footstep of some of Raja Ampat's finest diving. Look out for baby sharks and other critters mingling below your villa, or you can grab a mask and snorkel and jump right in for a closer inspection.
Feast on a delicious fresh meal at the overwater restaurant before spending the rest of the afternoon at leisure, making sure you are fully rested ahead of your diving adventures tomorrow, in the heart of the Coral Triangle.
Days 4-9: Diving in the Dampier Strait
Spend the next six days diving the spectacular sites across the Dampier Strait.
The Dampier Strait is located in the epicentre of the Coral Triangle, so you're in for a real treat. While the entire Strait is carpeted in incredible corals and marine life, some stand-out sites include Blue Magic, Cape Kri and Mike's Point. Blue Magic is an underwater pinnacle where pelagic fish such as Spanish mackerel, giant trevally, barracuda, tuna, rainbow runners and jacks can be seen hunting out in the blue while giant mantas regularly come in for their daily 'bath' at the cleaning station.
Cape Kri is said to be one of the most biodiverse sites on the planet with a record 283 species recorded here by experts on a single dive. Swim through the fields of coral looking out for macro life such as nudibranchs and pygmy seahorses camouflaged against fan corals. Off the reef look out for bumphead parrotfish, napoleon wrasse, grey, blacktip and white tip reef sharks as well as eagle and manta rays, which occasionally drop by. If you're extremely lucky you may come across the elusive dugong in the shallows.
Mike's Point is full of interesting crevices and overhangs, under which an array of macro creatures live. Look out of the large group of sweetlips who are regularly seen on the wall and for Spanish mackerel hunting in the blue. Not to mention white tip and black tip reef sharks, wobbegong and epaulette sharks. If you visit between October and April be sure to dive Manta Sandy, when large numbers of mantas gather with the arrival of plankton-rich waters into the Dampier Strait.
When not diving you will have a chance to explore the island, visit nearby islands and relax at the resort.
Day 10: All Aboard
Today you will head back to Sorong to begin the next leg of your adventure, exploring the more remote regions of Raja Ampat by luxury liveaboard.
As you settle into your cabin the liveaboard will begin to sail down to the south of Raja Ampat to Misool. Head out to the deck to admire the incredible natural scenery as the boat sails past huge limestone karsts and jungle-covered islands. You will reach Misool in the late afternoon.
Day 11: Diving around Daram
You will start your diving from the boat in the Daram region, in the very east of Misool.
Start out at the Candy Store dive site, so named because the first people to dive here surfaced and said they felt like children at a sweet shop due to the huge quantity and variety of life. This is considered one of the best dive sites in the region as it is covered in huge sea fans, sponges and several different soft corals, as well as schools of barracuda, butterfly fish and fusiliers. The site is also great for macro life with lots of shrimps, nudibranchs and pygmy seahorses.
Next, explore Andiamo, which is, quite simply, overflowing with life. There are two small islets creating a channel with steep reef walls and a pinnacle covered in corals and fish in beautifully clear waters. There are large hard black corals, gorgonian fans and colourful soft corals with lots of small creatures hiding among them. It's also a great site for spotting pelagic fish such as barracuda, trevally, grouper and jacks in the blue.
Finish up the day at Warna Berwarna (meaning Colourful Colour) which, as the name suggests, is full of colourful corals and fish. Look out for the huge school of anchovies blanketing the reef as well as the occasional passing mobula ray.
Day 12: Boo, Fiabecet and Yuliet
Another day, another dive site yet to be discovered. Today you will dive in the area of Boo, Fiabecet and Yuliet.
Start off at Boo Window, one of the most iconic dive sites in Raja Ampat, named so because of two unusual arched coral formations resembling two windows in which thousands of fish live. Look out for sharks resting on top of large table corals as well as schools of batfish and fusiliers.
The next dive of the day will be at Magic Mountain. This is a large underwater pinnacle covered in sea fans and schools of reef fish. Hover at the edge of the ridge where there is a steep drop off and you can watch the life go by - look out for sharks, triggerfish, fusiliers and schools of batfish, barracuda and bannerfish.
After lunch head to Nudibranch Rock, so named for the numerous nudibranchs on the reef. Be sure to charge the camera as this is a great opportunity to master your macro shots. Mantas and turtles are also known to visit this site for cleaning.
Your last afternoon dive will be at Whale Rock, which is famous for being covered in sea fans and other soft corals. Hammerhead sharks, schools of surgeonfish and trevally visit the site.
This evening, if you are still keen to get one more dive in then head to Romeo for a night dive. This is a sloping reef where epaulette 'walking' sharks are regularly seen - being nocturnal animals they are more active at night.
Day 13: Up to Penemu
This morning, kick off your last day in Misool at Yuliet Kecil, a gentle sloping reef leading to a wall covered in soft corals and fans. You may be lucky and encounter either reef or giant mantas here (or both!).
Between dives head to the lagoons at Wayilbatan where you can hike up the mountain to get a stunning view of the lagoons below. After your hike, dip back into the water at Neptune Sea Fan, which is a drift dive through a small channel covered in huge sea fans and great for spotting pygmy seahorses.
After your second dive, the boat will begin to cruise north to Penemu, arriving the following day.
Day 14: Penemu
This morning you will arrive into the beautiful area of Penemu. Begin your day in the best possible way by diving Melissa's Garden, a beautiful coral garden brimming with schooling reef fish.
After a surface interval refuelling on fresh fruit head back under the waves to explore Keruo Wall which is covered in large gorgonian sea fans and lots nudibranchs hiding among other colourful soft corals.
After lunch, set both feet on dry land and take a short hike up to the viewpoint of Penemu, from where you will have a stunning view over the surrounding lagoons and islands. Jump back into the water to cool off at My Reef, which has a huge amount of life on show, including a variety of fish and shark species.
Finish up the day at Batu Rufus, which is another reef with a 'window' feature which you can swim through. Look out for macro life including pygmy seahorses and nudibranchs hiding among the corals.
Day 15: Wofoh and Aljui Bay
Today you'll get to dive the beautiful underwater world of Woofah.
There are several sites across the area characterised by pristine coral beaches on one side of the bay and forested mountains on the other side looking towards Waigeo island. The dive sites in this area are famous for their unique black coral forests. Watch schooling fish escaping from predators through the corals and look out for wobbegong sharks on the ledges and in the small caverns in the reefs.
In the afternoon the boat will head over to Aljui Bay where you will have an afternoon dive in this macro haven - look out for lots of shrimps, nudibranchs and seahorses. After the afternoon dive you can visit the pearl farm to learn about how pearls are grown and harvested. After this there may be time to dive around the jetty of the pearl farm, which tends to be full of schooling fish with several wobbegong sharks lurking on the sandy bed.
Later, you will have the opportunity to do a night dive where you will search for more macro life including toadfish, frogfish, cuttlefish, octopus and Epaulette sharks. After you get back on the boat it will set sail for the Wayag islands.
Day 16: Wayag Islands
Found in the far north of Raja Ampat, north of the equator, are the famous Wagay Islands, the icon of Raja Ampat.
The area is known for its particularly beautiful atolls and lagoons with pristine beaches alongside dramatic Karst islands resembling mushrooms sprouting from the sea. In the morning climb to the top of Mount Pindito for the fantastic views over the region, this is an hour-long return hike. After this you will be ready to get back into the water!
Cool off with your first dive of the day at Far Out Rock, which is a sloping reef with lots of macro life including nudibranchs and leaf fish. In the afternoon, head for a dive at the famous Pelagic Rock which lives up to its name with lots of blacktip sharks, barracuda and other pelagic fish schooling nearby.
In the late afternoon take a ride around the lagoon in one of the dinghies to see more of the islands and beaches. Look out for turtles, black tip reef sharks and mantas - this area is thought to be a manta nursery area.
Day 17: Kawe and Gam Island
Today, en route to Gam Island, you'll stop off at Kawe Island for a couple of dives. Start at Black Rock for lots of fish action. The site has several small pinnacles with lots of black corals that schools of sweetlips and snappers like to hide between. Look out into the blue for the occasional manta gliding by.
For your next dive head to Eagle Rock, which is thought to be home to one of the largest populations of mantas in north Raja Ampat.
Getting into the western side of Gam Island, start with a dive at Citrus Ridge, so named for the bright orange and yellow corals. Look out for schooling barracuda, lionfish, angelfish and turtles.
For your last dive of the day head to the amazing Mangrove Ridge which is full of lots of bushy black corals. Look between the roots of the mangrove trees which act as shelter for an incredible array of juvenile fish and sharks.
Day 18: Dampier Strait
Sadly, today is your last diving day. Start off at Manta Ridge to see the graceful mantas that visit this cleaning station.
Next visit the Passage, which is beautiful above the water as well as below it - the boat will take you through a passageway between Gam and Waigeo islands with mangrove-lined limestone cliffs on either side. During this drift dive you may encounter trevally, bumphead parrotfish, sharks and turtles. However, the site is particularly well known for being a great spot for macro life. Close to the mangroves you will find a range of sponges, turnicates and critters living.
This afternoon head to Sardine Reef, which is a patch of reef in the middle of the strait where you can find huge shoals of fish. Look out for groups of fusiliers, surgeonfish, snappers, damselfish and butterfly fish, which often attract grey reef sharks and other predators.
Finally, finish up your diving with a dive back at Cape Kri, one of the highlights of the region.
Day 19: Dampier Strait
Due to your early flight tomorrow, you won't be able to safely dive today. However, you will have plenty of opportunity to snorkel and do other activities in the Dampier Strait.
In the morning, embark on a jungle trek in search of the beautiful birds of paradise, which are endemic to this region.
Next visit the tiny Arborek Island, a small inhabited island to meet locals in their village. You can cool off by snorkelling below the jetty, which is known for its huge school of jacks. Spend the rest of the day snorkelling and relaxing before the boat heads back to Sorong in the evening.
Day 20: Goodbye Raja Ampat
Sadly, it is time to wave goodbye to this amazing region of Indonesia and head back to the UK.
You will be picked up at the dock and transferred to the airport in plenty of time for your flight from Sorong to Jakarta where you will board your overnight international flight to London via Singapore.
Day 21: Arrival Home
Your flight arrives in London in the morning.
Emily C, Eleanor and Jacqui are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.