Raja Ampat Dive Sites, Indonesia
Raja Ampat has an incredible variety of marine life, and a vast number of dive sites. Explore this fantastic destination from the comfort of a liveaboard.
Raja Ampat dive sites are incredibly varied. There is a vast number of dive sites in this fantastic destination. Located in the centre of the Coral Triangle, the level of marine biodiversity found in Raja Ampat is unmatched anywhere else in the world.
The northern and central regions of Raja Ampat feature thrilling dives full of fish, exciting drift dives and beautiful hard coral reefs. Here, the mass movement of water on each tide attracts large schools of fish and lots of manta rays, including enormous giant manta rays. Night dives on the jetties in this area are particularly memorable for the weird and wonderful critters you can see.
The southern region of Raja Ampat is characterised by spectacularly colourful soft corals and massive sea fans. Marine life is equally impressive with mantas, sharks and macro life galore.
Raja Ampat covers a massive area, so a liveaboard is a perfect way to explore the great dive sites. Enjoy Raja Ampat from the comfort of a liveaboard. Book with us today!
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Raja Ampat Dive Sites, Indonesia - 64 LIVEABOARDS
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We have separated the best dive sites in Raja Ampat into some broad areas – Dampier Strait northern dive sites, central dive sites and Misool.
We have described below the best dive sites in Raja Ampat. There are many other brilliant dive spots, but there are too many to mention them all. We have covered the most popular, and the ones visited most often by the liveaboards.
Raja Ampat - Dampier Strait Dive Sites
The distances between the dive sites in the north can be quite vast. Therefore, we have split the diving in Raja Ampat's north into separate areas.
In the very north of Raja Ampat is a group of islands around Wayag. The viewpoints here will award the adventurous with the atypical view of Raja Ampat. Many small limestone islands nestled in the clear blue waters of the lagoons are a little bit of paradise.
The liveaboards mainly visit this area for the viewpoint and lagoons. Young manta rays and a good number of black-tip reef sharks shelter in the calm, shallow waters here. You may do a couple of dives here next to the limestone islands. The reefs here are rocky slopes with good chances to see nudibranchs, scorpionfish, Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish munching on the hard corals and perhaps a passing ray.
The equator dissects the large island of Kawe. South of the equator is two fantastic dive sites.
Located on the west coast of Kawe Island this considerable dive site needs at least two dives to swim all around. The typical entry point is on the northwest part of the dive site where there are a few small pinnacles covered with soft corals and sea fans. Swimming towards the south a gentle slope is present with very large bushes of black corals hosting groups of oriental sweetlips and snappers. If drifting to the southern part of the site, you will come across big rocks with much marine life to see. Look out into the deep water for pelagics such as dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerel and the occasional white tip and grey reef sharks. Manta Rays have often been seen here too.
Liveaboards often do a few dives on this site due to its size. Eagle Rock is home to the largest reef manta ray population in the northern part of Raja Ampat. Significant aggregations of black snappers and yellowtail barracudas are always around. The west part of the site has enormous rocks down to 25 metres covered with sea fans where pygmy seahorses are seen. Ghost pipefish camouflage themselves in the black coral bushes. Wobbegongs and stingrays are regularly seen in the cracks of the boulders. At the shallow rock, hydroids are present, and this is an excellent opportunity to see Pontohi seahorses.
The wall of Aljui is very dramatic in places with many crevasses along the wall. Sea fans and soft coals are present on the site. Many species of nudibranchs are seen here. Bring along a dive light to discover the marine life that uses the small cuts in the wall to hide from predators. Ghost pipefish, longfin comet fish, and juvenile snappers are often seen here. Look in the sea fans for the uniquely coloured yellow Bargibanti pygmy seahorse.
Aljui Bay Jetty
There is a large pearl farm inside the bay, and they built a few jetties along the coastline. Perfect place to do an afternoon dive to explore the sandy slope where there are big hard coral heads. This is one of the sites where wobbegong sharks are almost guaranteed. There is a very large resident school of yellow lined scads under the main jetty. During night time this dive site transforms into one of the most productive for macro marine life in the north part of Raja Ampat. Spot-tail frogfish, ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish and the endemic walking shark (Epaulette shark) are some of the highlights of this site.
This is a popular spot for the liveaboards due to the fantastic viewpoint here. There are some amazing dives here too.
The most-healthy hard coral reef in Raja Ampat. A giant plateau slopes off into sandy areas with large coral heads. Wobbegong sharks lie under these bommies, surrounded by glassfish. Explore around the plateau before heading up into the shallows. The immaculate hard corals host thousands of colourful anthias and fish school all around this area. Blacktip reef sharks are often seen cruising over the top of the corals.
Batu Rufus has an amazing hard coral garden in the shallows, a perfect environment for blacktip reef sharks. Walls to the west are covered with soft corals, sea fans and amazing red anemones. Discover the secrets of the sandy rubble slopes to the south with big coral heads all along the slope where Pontohi pygmy seahorses are often seen. Explore the shallows perfect to do your safety stop at the site and dive truly one of the most famous swim troughs in the area.
Raja Ampat - Central Dive Sites
Dampier Strait is named after British navigator William Dampier. The large body of water separates the islands of Waigeo and Batanta. The dive sites are predominately on the northern side of the strait around the islands of Kri and Mansuar. With around 30 dives sites within a 10-kilometre radius of these islands, there are too many to write about here. We list some of our favourites.
Manta rays come here to a cleaning station. Find a spot in the sand, kneel down, and watch the show! If the mantas don't appear, there's plenty of macro life in the sand. Look out for wobbegong sharks on the reef. There is a permanent ranger's station built on the sandbanks, and you can learn about the conservation of these majestic rays from the locals.
One of the villages visited most in the central part of Raja Ampat is Arborek Village. Here the locals built a small jetty where the marine life is concentrated, from the big school of Yellow Lined Scads to the rare blue-ringed octopus. A gentle slope with reef and sandy areas drops down to 25 metres. There are huge coral heads, the perfect habitat for wobbegong sharks. Arborek Jetty is the ideal dive site to do in the afternoon and is often dived at night. Reef manta rays are seen swimming by due to the vicinity of Manta Sandy.
Cape Kri is the dive site that put Raja Ampat on the map. Located in the central area of Raja Ampat, in the Dampier Strait. Dr Gerry Allen recorded 374 different species on a single tank dive at this spectacular dive site. Schooling sweetlips, jacks, surgeonfish, barracudas, fusiliers and batfish can be sighted all along this dive site. Blacktip reef sharks swim in the shallows, and grey reef sharks cruise in the deep. Turtles, napoleons and bumphead parrotfish are also often spotted here.
Sardine Reef is one of the most famous dive sites in the Dampier area due to the high concentration of fish action. Barracudas, batfish, bumphead parrotfish, black snappers, sweetlips and massive schools of neon fusiliers are always present on this site. If the current is running black tip, white tip and grey reef sharks will be patrolling the reef. There are a few big boulders on the edge of the reef covered in soft corals, perfect areas for the wobbegong sharks to hide. Due to the vicinity of the dive site Blue Magic, giant manta rays are often seen here along with turtles especially in the shallows of the reef. The name Sardine Reef is due to all the marine life being packed into one dive site like a can of sardines.
A small pinnacle that promises magic! Grey reef sharks prowl large schools of jacks, snappers and fusiliers. Wobbegong sharks lie under the coral heads. And giant manta rays love to come here for a clean. Located near Mioskon island, this pinnacle is a must on your visit to get the magical experience with the largest ray in the ocean. Along the shallows of the pinnacle, there are a few big boulders home to frogfish, Pontohi seahorses and occasionally blue-ringed octopus.
Raja Ampat - Misool Dive Sites
The dive sites in this southern part of Raja Ampat are concentrated in the area southeast of Misool island, one of the four kings. Misool has so many dive sites it will be impossible to mention them all.
Misool is a vast area. Many liveaboards will spend the whole day in one area of Misool. We have listed below some of the most popular areas and our favourite dive sites within them.
A vast ridge connects the two large islands of Kalig and Boo. The ridge rises to the surface in several areas, creating magnificent dive sites.
Above water, this rock looks like a nudibranch. Below the surface is a large dive site plastered with colourful soft corals. The health of this reef attracts abundant marine life. Pygmy seahorses, schooling barracuda, wobbegong sharks, turtles, hunting jacks, reef sharks, colourful anemones hosting anemone fish, soft coral pipefish and of course nudibranchs.
"Batu" means rock and "Kecil" means small. The small rock is the only part of the site that breaks the surface but underwater it is the opposite. With walls in the north and also in the south, this large dive site can be dived at any time of the day. On both sides, the vast amount of soft corals is beyond belief. Big Napoleon wrasse swimming around are always a treat. Hawksbill turtles are pretty much resident to this site.
The name comes from the most prominent rock shape that is like a whale. A vast system with too much to see in only one dive, the site consists of two islands. One small and one bigger, and in between there is a coral head with the most amount of soft corals you will ever see! There is not a free space on the rock for more corals to grow on it. Here the currents run from north to south and this is why the middle rock is paradise for divers and for the corals that grow there. There are always nutrients passing by all day long. White tip reef sharks often patrol the middle rock. The hard coral gardens on both islands are healthy as can be. There are great opportunities to see blacktip reef sharks and turtles swimming around in the shallows.
Boo & Nearby
An iconic shallow swim-through is one focus of this fantastic dive site. It has even featured on the front cover of a book about Raja Ampat. Another is the long ridge that is a hub of activity. Unsuspecting snappers school above camouflaged wobbegong sharks. Manta rays come to the cleaning stations here. Grey reef sharks patrol the deep and curious blacktip reef sharks check out the divers in the shallows. As with the majority of dive sites in Misool, the immense amount of colourful soft corals might blow your mind! A must-do dive site in Misool.
Shadow Reef aka Magic Mountain is close to Boo. Here you can see reef and giant manta rays, one of a very few places in the world where you can see both species on one dive. Plus, the whole pinnacle is wholly covered in fish life! This is an extremely popular dive site, and you will see why as soon as you jump in. This large pinnacle is very busy! Snappers, barracuda, jacks, batfish, fusiliers, grey reef, groupers to name a few of the resident fish here. For the lucky divers, a dolphin might pass by too.
This dive site is an extensive underwater reef that often confuses divers due to the size of the small rock that comes out of the water. The northern part of the site has dramatic walls down to 30 metres with a big colony of sea fans hosting the Denise pygmy seahorse and the Bargibanti pygmy seahorse. Gentle slopes are in the east and west with substantial barrel sponges and whip corals. A small ridge to the south of the site is where, depending on the current, there is frequently a hot spot for large concentrations of fish such as Chevron barracudas and spadefish. The shallows of Yuliet have very large bommies covered entirely in soft coral and some hard corals, the perfect area to do the safety stop.
Neptune's Fan Sea
For many scuba divers, this site becomes their favourite site after a few minutes of the dive. The dive site is located in the channel created by Wayilbatan Island and Warakaket Island. The northern part consists of a very gentle slope down to 35 meters that transforms into a wall that is probably one of the richest in soft corals and sea fans in the area. There is terrific marine life to see. Pygmy seahorses are regularly seen, and on occasion, the biggest reef-associated fish in the world the giant grouper is often seen in the middle of the channel resting or swimming by along the wall. The shallow, hard coral garden in the south of the dive site is mind-blowing, the perfect area to do the last three minutes of the dive.
One of the most dramatic underwater topography in the area, with ledges slopes and walls, this site has it all. In November and December Wedding Cake plays host to large schools of silverside fish which are the favourite food of the Mobula rays. Often seen here are big groups of Mobula feeding on the silverside fish, and that is an experience of a lifetime. In the west, in the sandy slope part of the site, turtles and some particular fish such as the pink eye goby and the fantastic colourful flasher wrasse males displaying their pectoral fin to attract the females are often seen.
This site is regularly dived in the afternoon or as a night dive. Here it is always lovely to see the presence of a big school of spadefish and barracudas. Slopes to the east part of the site and dramatic mini walls in the west form this fantastic dive. Amazing hard coral gardens in the shallows are where reef octopus and turtles come to clean in the late afternoon. During the night dives the endemic epaulette shark is almost guaranteed. Many divers here have also seen the smallest pygmy seahorse in the world, the Satomi pygmy seahorse.
The Candy Store walls are entirely covered in marine life. There is so much soft coral and whip corals that there are not many empty spots along the walls, dropping down to 35 metres plus. The coral is so colourful that divers decided to give this site the name of Candy Store because of so much colour in one location. The hard coral in the shallows is outstanding, and the best part is that it is at the perfect depth to do the safety stop. Napoleon wrasse, turtles and a resident school of neon fusiliers make this site a great option to dive at any time of the day.
Andiamo is a massive site with incredible marine life living on it. To the east of the site, there is a pinnacle where a big school of barracudas and spadefish have adopted it as their home. The pinnacle itself is covered with soft coral and gorgonian sea fans. Pelagics, sharks and even giant manta rays have been seen here. After within 35 minutes you can swim to the main rock. The deep wall on the north or the slope area on the south, in both directions, are covered with marine life. Schools of yellow snappers are always waiting in the shallows. Here the barrel sponges grow to incredible sizes making them one of the highlights of the site.
Many liveaboards will visit the area of Penemu for the viewpoint there. Easy steps to the top will award you with a beautiful view across the limestone formations in the crystal-clear waters below.
Arborek Village is a favourite place for liveaboards to visit. The children here love visitors and will follow you around this perfectly kept village. Bring along supplies for the school or treats for the children for extra smiles!
Tomolol Cave is a very unique experience. Take a ride through the pearl farm in the bay into the maze of limestone formations. At the end of the beautiful tour, a huge cavern will suddenly appear. You can swim through this vast cavern and be amazed by the rock formations. Massive stalactites and stalagmites have been forming inside Tomolol Cave for thousands of years.
Many areas of Raja Ampat are just waiting to be explored. The endless limestone islands and rocks create secret lagoons. Liveaboards might take you on a lagoon tour to enjoy these beautiful seascapes.
Beaches are everywhere in Raja Ampat! Just ask your liveaboard to drop you off between dives to explore a beach all to yourselves.
Marine Park and Conservation in Raja Ampat
The Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area network covers an area of 1,185,940 hectares. It was created in 2002 and is comprised of seven distinct marine protected areas. They are managed by the Raja Ampat Regency and the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in partnership with local communities and with support from international NGOs.
All visitors to Raja Ampat are required to purchase a permit which is valid for 12 months. The money collected goes towards the operational costs of maintaining the MPAs and to community conservation and development initiatives.