Diving in Raja Ampat

West Papua, New Guinea Island

Click on an image to enlarge

...Good for: Large animals, small animals, reef life and health, underwater photography, visibility, and advanced divers...
...Not so good for: Non-diving activities...

Located off the northwest tip of Bird's Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small isles, cays and shoals surrounding the 4 main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. It is a part of the newly named West Papua Province of Indonesia which was formerly Irian Jaya and is mostly the domain of liveaboards, however there are also a very limted number of dive resorts available too.

Simply put, Raja Ampat is the bees knees in the world of scuba diving. If you don't enjoy your dives here, you may as well sell your equipment! According to the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Bulletin and their more recent 2006 scientific surveys, the marine life diversity in West Papua is considerably greater than all other areas sampled in the coral triangle of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. It is quite simply the cream of the crop in world diving! Show more

Dive Site Descriptions

Northern Region

Kri Island - Sardines is a firm favourite among the liveaboards of Raja Ampat. You won't find sardines here but the fish that you will find are almost as tightly packed. Those who have dived here will talk with great enthusiasm about the sheer numbers of fish here. Of course there are great schools of trevallies and tuna in numbers that practically block out the light. But you can also be enthralled by vast numbers of bumpheaded parrotfish as they charge around and devour the coral. Show more

Return to the top of the page

How to Dive West Papua

This depends on what type of vacation you want to have. There are 2 main options:

The dive sites and surrounding area are spread over huge distances. There are many excellent liveaboards in the region covering large areas of sea. However land-lubbers may prefer to stay in a dive resort.


Return to the top of the page

Diving Season

Most Indonesian liveaboards visit Raja Ampat during the months of October until the end of April, although it is possible to find a few boats running trips all the year round. During the months of July to mid-September, strong winds and rain can cause rough seas, causing boats to schedule other areas to visit and closing some of the dive resorts in this period.

However, it is possible to enjoy scuba diving in West Papua all year round since several boats leave the islands of Raja Ampat and move east along the north coast of Papua into Cenderawasih Bay. Here you can find whale sharks at any time of the year and many of the dive sites are sheltered from rough seas.

The Papua provinces of Indonesia have 2 rainy seasons - in November/December and again in July/August. Sea temperatures are pretty constant, ranging from a low of about 27°C between May to October, to 30°C in the November to April period. It can rain here at any time, not just during rainy season.

October to April is a time when plankton blooms reduce visibility but bring greater numbers of manta rays to the area.

Return to the top of the page

Where is Raja Ampat and How Do I Get There?

Review our maps below of Indonesian Papua, showing the location of the Raja Ampat islands, and its host country Indonesia. Here, you will find information on how to get to Raja Ampat.

Map of Papua/West Papua (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of Indonesia (click to enlarge in a new window)

Return to the top of the page

Reef Summary

Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 30m
Currents: Moderate
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 27 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: Unknown, but >200
Recommended length of stay: 10 - 16 days

Return to the top of the page

Useful References


Return to the top of the page