Rajaampat! Many has admitted, that it is simply the best diving destination in the world. Although I have very little doubt about that, it’s surely one of the largest, with hundreds of dive sites.
This time, our diving team decided to spend more time in Misool, which is the southern part of Rajaampat county. There were 12 divers, a combination of advanced and beginners. Some had no problem with seasick, some already turned white on our first day. Some couldn’t live with their cameras, some just couldn’t care less. Diversity always makes a trip more colorful.
If you want to dive in Rajaampat, the best way is to fly to Sorong, Papua. It will take you approximately 4.5 – 6 hours flight from Jakarta (including transit time in Makassar and/or Ambon). There are more carriers nowadays, with normal, reliable airplanes, I hope :).
You can either choose to live aboard (LOB), or stay at a resort. I can’t tell you much about the resorts as I never stay there (I’ve heard that the resorts are very nice, not cheap though). I always choose LOB, as it feels more special to me. No signals, no distraction, it’s all about diving, eating, sharing underwater photos, silly chats, looking at the stars every night and do anything you wanna do with your girlfriend like in the movies.
I’ve tried several LOB company and Grand Komodo is the LOB company that I have used the most, which provides the best guides with excellent service. Although we got really good deal, I hope they stop increasing the price.
Before we sailed to Misool, we went to Cape Kri, my all-time favorite dive site in Rajaampat, besides Sardeen Reef and Chicken Reef. The schooling jack fish was only 5-10 m deep. Big schooling fish never failed to drop my jaw. I also spotted a big group of sexier-than-Angelina sweetlips at 35 m.
Don’t forget to go to Black Bird to see the manta rays. We spotted many of them, calmly swimming around within my reach. The current was pretty strong, but if you don’t bring big camera with you, it’s quite manageable.
Misool is more famous for its coral, although I found that the macro was pretty nice too. Its huge sea-fans were way beyond awesome. We were also lucky to have such good visibility, 25-35 m. Some of the famous sites are Jendela and Boo. Jendela is cute. It has too big window-like passages, which lead to nice ‘garden’.
Pigmy seahorse was also easy to find. I really hope my strobes didn’t blind them. But in case you haven’t known, please never touch the seahorse and if possible, the sea-fan. In fact, try not to touch anything. It will make them vulnerable to their predators. They have an invisible shield that cover their skin, making them invisible to the predators. Touching them will erase it.
My gear was Canon 5D mark 2 inside Ikelite housing, with 8 inch dome, together with two D160 Ikelite strobes. I used two lenses, Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8 L II and EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro, both sponsored by Canon (it’s a good time to get more sponsored lenses from them. Hallo Canon, I told you I would make the most of your lenses. I even showed them to the fish).
In my personal opinion, I always have mixed feelings seeing how diving become very popular in Indonesia. It’s nice to see more people love our nature, but it’s also a real threat, if we are not aware to control its social-business development. More divers means more income, more boats, more resorts. We human have much bigger chance to ruin our nature in contrary of preserving it. My only hope is that our love to our underwater world can move us, divers or non-divers, to unleash our true power to stop any abusive threat to the coral reef. I have heard that the government has given permission to a mining company to start their operation in Rajaampat, which I strongly believe will destroy the nature no matter how sweet the company’s public relations tell us). I hope it’s just a cheap rumor.