Raja Ampat has been one of the most widely discussed dive areas over the past few years. Situated in the Coral Triangle (an area in the western Pacific Ocean which includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands), it has the highest biodiversity of marine life anywhere - with one dive site boasting more than 370 species of marine life! Getting to lead our 2019 liveaboard trip there, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.
We started our journey to Raja Ampat early on Friday 8 March 2019. We began with an International flight to Jakarta, where we met another customer flying in from Brisbane. This flight was then followed by a domestic flight to Sarong, where we met the other 5 passengers on the trip and also the crew of the Indonesian Siren Liveaboard. A welcome drink and lunch, and then our journey to the famous islands of the coral triangle began. Boat briefings followed, along with dinner, and then we all turned in early, tired from the flights and travel. Early the next morning we woke excited to get in for our first dive of the trip. I had decided to dive single Sidemount due to its more comfortable configuration, especially for longer dives. One of the other customers had decided to do the same. As he had not dived for some time, I made sure to help him get set up and comfortable.
As we jumped in and descended, we were greeted with beautiful clear warm water and an abundance of marine life. I could now see why Raja Ampat has become one of the most popular dive areas in the world over the past few years.
After each dive, the liveaboard would move a short distance to a new area so we had the luxury of diving a new spot every time. One of the luxuries of liveaboard diving.
Over the course of the trip we were lucky enough to see Manta rays, small schools of bat rays, a variety of reef and wobbegong sharks, many beautiful varieties of hard and soft corals, pygmy seahorses, bumphead parrotfish, mantis shrimp, sea snakes, giant morays, schooling jacks, trevally and barracuda.... many of these marine I have not seen in such large numbers anywhere else in the past 5 years. Definitely some of the best diving I have experienced anywhere in the world. Raja Ampat and the coral triangle definitely don't disappoint.
The Siren Liveaboard is a beautiful wooden style sailboat, comfortably sleeping 16 customers and around 10 crew. The benefit of liveaboard style diving is that the boat can easily travel to the better diving spots at its convenience and there is no time lost in doing so. This then allows for multiple dives (in some cases up to 5) to be completed in a day, where land-based resorts may only over a few.
On the Siren Liveaboard we were lucky enough to complete up to 4 dives on each day. Each dive on the liveaboard was followed by some form of eating and then generally, sleeping. And the term - "dive, eat, sleep, repeat" was born.
The Siren crew are amazing. Working tirelessly for more than 16 hours straight, these guys know how to run a smooth operation and are always there to help when it is needed. Even during times when things don't quite go to plan, they are honest and upfront, and always have an amazing backup plan to make sure the customer is not inconvenienced. Being a professional in the industry myself, I was super impressed with the level of professionalism that was displayed at all times.
On the 6th day of the trip, we skipped the night dive and instead went to the island of Priaynemo for a BBQ and sunset. We also took in some of the sights of Raja from high above and via a cruise through some of the smaller rock islands.
After 7 days of diving from the Indonesian Siren, I feel like I have a good appreciation of what Raja has to offer. I also believe that you would not be able to do this without the aid of a liveaboard, and as mentioned earlier, the Siren is definitely one of the best I have been on. All in all, Raja Ampat has lived up to its’ reputation of providing some of the best diving in the world. It should definitely be on your bucket list.