Cendrawasih Bay Liveaboard Diving, Indonesia

Cendrawasih Bay Liveaboard Diving, Indonesia

A liveaboard is the only option to dive the amazing Cendrawasih Bay area of Indonesia with the guaranteed sightings of multiple whale sharks.

In Cendrawasih Bay the main attraction is the resident whale sharks that are found here year round. The behaviour of the sharks inside the bay area is unusual compared to other locations. They actively gather below the fishing platforms. Here they can take advantage of the small morsels that escape the nets or are discarded by the fishermen. Usually, a minimum of five whale sharks are present in any one dive, making Cendrawasih Bay one of the best locations worldwide to see these fantastic creatures.

There is so much more on offer for scuba divers joining a liveaboard cruise. Macro life here is excellent, with nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs and pygmy seahorses.

Enthralling wreck dives are located here with many world war II vessels lying within the recreational depth limits of Cendrawasih Bay.

Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.

Cendrawasih Bay Liveaboard Diving, Indonesia - 13 LIVEABOARDS

From $1,412 / day

Sequoia Yacht

Sequoia Yacht, constructed in 2017, is a modern, classic wooden yacht design. She has custom-designed lighting on board and underwater to view below the ocean. Designed to give maximum comfort and space to her six guests in three deluxe suites with en suite bathrooms. Outdoor areas include the bow and sky decks where sunbathing and alfresco dining can take place. The great room is an open-air style teak room where the meals are served; it also has a beverage centre.

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From $222 / day

Alila Purnama

Alila Purnama Liveaboard in Indonesia is a traditional Phinisi that is one of the most luxurious in Indonesia. At 46 metres she caters for only ten guests in 5 cabins that match the luxury of the Alila resorts. All cabins have ensuite bathrooms with separate toilets. The Master Suite is even larger and has a private sundeck with loungers and a balcony. There is plenty of space both inside and out for relaxation with many activities in addition to the diving offered.

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From $571 / day

Dewi Nusantara

Launched in 2008, the magnificent 57m Dewi Nusantara set new standards of comfort, design, space, service and safety for liveaboards in Indonesia. She offers a first-class cruise experience to some of the most remote and sought-after dive destinations in the Coral Triangle. Eighteen guests can be accommodated in eight spacious staterooms and one fantastic master suite. Indulge in the romance of a bygone era paired with the latest technology for the dive extravaganza of a lifetime.

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Diving in Cendrawasih Bay

The bay is the destination in Indonesia that consistently has a large population of whale sharks for the whole year. One of the draws for them is the local fisherman and the platforms they use called bagans. The sharks come in to feed from beneath the bamboo cane constructions that remain anchored in the waters for long periods of time. The whale sharks provide a close-up experience for divers for the duration of the dive time.

The Manokwari Wrecks lie on the seabed of the Gulf of Dore where there are currently six wrecks open to exploring. The others are located beyond recreational limits or not located as yet. Covered in corals the cargo is still present with anything from bicycles to grenades and penetration dives are possible.

Best Places to Dive in Cendrawasih Bay

The bay is the location for the cruise with the focus on the whale sharks and wreck dives. The Cendrawasih Bay liveaboards can be combined with other areas within Indonesia on longer cruises but tend to focus on what the bay itself has to offer.

Best Dives Sites in Cendrawasih Bay

Whale Shark Diving

Kwatisore Bay

Close to Nabire, this is the area of Cenderawasih Bay that highlights the encounters with the whale sharks. The sheer density of the sharks and close up encounters leave this area unrivalled when diving or snorkelling with the magnificent creatures is being considered.

Early morning is the best time to dive, close to the local fishing platforms. The bagans are the go-to place for the whale sharks to gain a free meal; here the fishermen consider them good luck. Some encouragement is made with baitfish and this also stopped the gentle giants disturbing their nets full of sardines.

The whale sharks are not fed for the divers to see, but it is part of a long-established local tradition, they avoid contact with divers and focus on the free breakfast.

Dives here are beyond comparison to any other location with the whale sharks regarding proximity, numbers and duration of each encounter.

World War II Wrecks

The northern edge of the bay has the island of Biak, home of the Battle of Biak in 1944 between the occupying Japanese force and the USA. This was a major turning point in the Pacific war.

Shinwa Maru

One of the easy to reach wrecks located close to the town of Manokwari on Cenderawasih's west coast. A 120m Japanese transport ship that suffered two large blast holes on the starboard side now at 16 to 34m of depth.

In a good condition, she is now covered in sponges, hard and soft corals and is home to moray eels and nudibranchs with jacks circling her. The cargo consists of many dishes, plates, cutlery, sake bottles and chopsticks.

P40 Tomahawk Fighter Plane

The plane still has the cockpit intact with the seat and instruments visible. It is home to moray eels and many small critters. There can be giant groupers with black and white tip reef sharks circling the sand.

Catalina Flying Boat

One of the best-known wreck sites is drifting over the flying boat used for rescues during the war. She is intact sitting upright making her an interesting dive site.

Muck Diving

Sungei Omiand

This is one of the sites that is neither a whale shark or wreck dive. It is reminiscent of Lembeh or Ambon. As a muck dive, most of the dive is spent looking at the black sand seabed. Inside the coral clusters and rock formations, there are many wonderful critters such as pygmy seahorses, snake eels, frogfish, nudibranchs and shrimps. Cuttlefish are here and if lucky a diver may find the blue-ringed octopus.

Other muck diving sites are located in the shallows of the bay area, but human rubbish from the villages can be off-putting. The critter finds can be fabulous and a total distraction.

Cendrawasih Bay Scuba Diving Highlights

  • Common sightings - Whale sharks, jacks, morays, nudibranchs
  • Special sightings - Pygmy seahorses, mola mola, manta rays, dolphins
  • Topography - Wrecks, reefs
  • Visibility - Variable but averages at 15m
  • General information - Currents can be strong in this area with conditions best suited to intermediate to advanced divers.

Best Time to Go

Cenderawasih Bay is often scheduled between June and October, even though the area is open to diving year around. The reason is more due to the sheltered conditions the bay has compared to Raja Ampat or other locations in Indonesia, rather than the area itself.

The whale sharks, which the bay is famous for are there all year.

The Papua Province of Indonesia has two seasons, wet and dry.

Wet is November / December plus July and August, but it can still rain in other months.

Water temperature is relatively constant at 27C rising to 30C at the warmest, so a 3mm to 5mm short wetsuit is usually enough protection.

How to Get There

For a liveaboard cruise to Cenderawasih Bay a connecting flight to Nabire, Manokwari or Biak is required via either Jakarta, Surabaya, Manado or other airports. Please check the itinerary for the actual departure and return ports.

Other Activities

Biak was the site of a significant battle in 1944 involving over 22,000 men and a major turning point in the second World War for the Pacific. Guests who use the port of Biak can visit the Japanese Caves and War Memorial during a half day island tour.

Marine Park and Conservation in Cendrawasih Bay

The Teluk, Cenderawasih National Park was created in 1990 to protect the western area of the bay. The area covers over 14,000 km2 and is the largest park in the whole of Indonesia. It includes not only the marine life but also terrestrial and mangrove areas.