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Looking for recommendations: GBR, PNG and Raja Ampat


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#1 cjames

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 01:04 PM

I'm looking for the next big photo trip. Bali and Lembeh was awsome. Loved Micronesia and Fiji. So I'm thinking a week at GBR, a week or so at PNG , then over to Raja Ampat for a week to 10 days. That said, what I want is great diving, interesting land tours, and lots of good pictures. Any recommendations?

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#2 okuma

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 03:49 PM

Going to Raja & PNG, I'd drop the GBR.

Before you book any diving, plan out your air travel - you can not go directly fron PNG to Raja. That being said, here are my recommendations on our experiences.

Raja - get on the Sea Horse or other ship and do Triton Bay and or the Misool area.

Png - go to Tawali and get on one of the 2 live aboards out of there or go on the FaBrina out of Walindi. For a 3 day lay over in Port Moresby go to Loloatau, 1 hour away.

Land touring - Ambua Lodge in the highlands or a cruise on the Sepik Explorer (no diving).

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#3 reubencahn

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Posted 06 July 2008 - 04:20 PM

For PNG, I'd highly recommend the Golden Dawn.

#4 AllisonFinch

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 01:34 PM

I've spent a lot of time in PNG. I really love New Britain Island and both the FeBrina and the Stardancer.

#5 AMW

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:40 PM

Diving in Milne Bay-PNG is terrific. Great muck diving at LAUWADI near Tawali Dive Resort. Beautiful pinnacles in the outer reefs.
GBR does not hold a candle to PNG diving...

#6 leonandclaudia

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 09:49 AM

Raja Ampat is by far the best, and we have found the best way to go is with the only land based resorts (on Kri Island); at the resorts you are minutes away from of all the very best and most famous dive-sites that make this area so famous. This gives you the chance to do the same site several times, making it possible to dive it when the conditions are just right.
You will find the resorts so much more comfortable and roomy than on the indonesian style live-aboards, and far more value for money.
Topside is spectacular and wild, photo opportunities are limitless, from wild orchids to the exotic birds and sheer lush jungle, dripping into the ocean from mind blowing cliffs.
And the best of all... there are no people, no tourists, few locals and nature, the way it was intended to be.
Getting there is relatively easy, and it is less expensive than PNG, the people are more friendly and accommodating than anywhere else on earth...
You are most welcome to contact us for more info, and we will help point you in the right direction...

#7 frogfish

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 05:26 AM

Raja Ampat is by far the best, and we have found the best way to go is with the only land based resorts (on Kri Island); at the resorts you are minutes away from of all the very best and most famous dive-sites that make this area so famous. ... You will find the resorts so much more comfortable and roomy than on the indonesian style live-aboards, and far more value for money. ... And the best of all... there are no people, no tourists, few locals and nature, the way it was intended to be.... You are most welcome to contact us for more info, and we will help point you in the right direction...

From the same couple, in another nearby thread:

There is an outfit called Papua Diving on Kri Island in the Raja Ampat, a mere 45 miles away from Sorong or one hour and 10 minutes by speedboat, with the world's most famous dive-site as it's house-reef (Cape-Kri). The owner is famous and has been in the area for the last 17 years, building the two resorts with the help of the local population. Hang with this guy and experience Raja Ampat like nobody else in this world. To make it even more perfect; one of South Africa's most famous dive operators, Neville Ayliffe, has joined the company, and now there is no stopping them; you want the best, you go there....You are welcome to contact us anytime, and we would be happy to point you in the right direction.....

Hey, moderators, don't these posts belong in the commercial advertising ghetto? I think it's great that "Leon and Claudia" enjoyed their stay at Max Ammer's resort so much, as many have before. But I really have to wonder how many liveaboards trips in Raja Empat this couple from South Africa have done. Yes, staying on Kri Island, you will be minutes away from many wonderful dive sites ... that happen to be close to Kri Island. There is nothing wrong with that, except perhaps the implication that you will also be able to dive all the best sites in Raja Empat. Not so. (Yes, Max does arrange trips to more distant sites.) The new Misool Eco resort is very close (too close? oh wel!) to some of my own favorite dive sites in R4, like P. Boo, P. Fiabacet. On the whole, I'd prefer to dive Misool than the sites around P. Kri, but that's just my personal preference.

But let's get real - Raja Empat has a total area of roughly 43,000 km2. Think about that - these are big distances. Not to be argumentative with "Leon and Claudia", but there are wonderful dive sites all over R4. Nobody can offer access to all the great sites in an area that size from a land-based resort using day boats (would you really like to try a 200 km ride to your morning dive site?), and of course nobody in their right mind would ever try. Not very many people staying at Andy's new resort in Misool (and I will definitely be one of them!) will see P. Kofiau while they are staying in East Misool, not to mention sites further north such as Waigeo or P. Wayag. The excellent existing and new land-based resorts in Raja Empat hardly need to resort to deception to attract enthusiastic clients!

IMHO, to say that "the best way to go [in R4] is with the only land-based resorts (on Kri Island)" is as misleading (absurd, and silly) as it would be to to say that a live-aboard is the only way to go. There are "pluses" and "minuses" associated with both resort-based and liveaboard based diving in R4, just like anywhere else in the world. But there is no single "best" way to dive Raja Empat applicable to all divers, or all photographers, all the time.

I'm giving "Leon_and_Claudia" the benefit of the doubt here by assuming that the one-sided advice they are pushing is driven mainly by ignorance, not commercial motivations.

Max's resort on Kri and the spectacular dive sites he has developed in that area are justly renowned, and I'm sure the new Misool Eco Resort will offer a wonderful opportunities for divers and photographers to concentrate on the world-class dive sites of eastern Misool. Live-aboards offer access to these sites and also to more remote locations. Different strokes not just for different folks, but also for the same folks at different times. But those seeking advice and help that will "point them in the right direction" might want to keep looking - "Leon and Claudia" may not be exactly the last word on diving R4.

Frogfish (Robert Delfs)

[For the record, I've done six trips to R4. Each time I go back, I realize all the more how little I know or understand about this wonderful place.]

Edited by frogfish, 16 July 2008 - 03:55 PM.

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#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 06:21 AM

I agree with you Robert, that those posts have a commercial side, but I think a lot of new posters on any forum do take a while to adapt to the posting style. And I'd attribute it to lack of forum experience, rather than anything else. I don't know L&C personally, but I was on a flight with them a couple of months ago from Sin to Manado. Not that they would know me!

Anyway I digress. I think that it is hard to go wrong in Raja Ampat whether you go shore based or liveaboard. Both have +tives and -tives. Personally, I'd always go liveaboard, but I see shore based suiting many.
In the end the diving is so great there you are not going to have a poor time anywhere. Raja Ampat really blew me away when I went there - for my one and only trip there. I can't wait to go back. They are the most amazing reefs I have seen, although I have not been to PNG or GBR.

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#9 frogfish

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:19 PM

I think that it is hard to go wrong in Raja Ampat whether you go shore based or liveaboard. Both have +tives and -tives. Personally, I'd always go liveaboard, but I see shore based suiting many. ...In the end the diving is so great there you are not going to have a poor time anywhere.

Thanks, Alex. That's exactly right, which is probably why I reacted a bit strongly to the suggestion that either mode is the "best" way to dive Raja Empat (or anywhere else for that matter), or the statement that one particular land-based operator is only minutes away from "all the best and most famous dive sites" in the area. It takes nothing away from Max Ammer's excellent operation to say that simply isn't so - R4 is a big place.

But it did occur to me after I posted the msg above that it might have made more sense for me to take a very different tack. The top tier R4 live-aboards that L&C were dissing are mostly booked out during their R4 seasons for the next two years - which is seriously complicating my life - planning ahead was never my strong point. What I should have written is that live-aboard diving in Raja Empat sucks big-time, the diving is rotten, there are no fish, no photo opps, so please stay away, don't even consider it. Honest, you'll have a terrible time! Much better to go land-based only, and preferably somewhere on the GBR. Or the Red Sea. No good diving here, nossirree!

Robert

Edited by frogfish, 16 July 2008 - 04:21 PM.

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#10 okuma

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 06:44 PM

I second FrogFish's coments.

Our best Raja trips were with Larry!
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#11 Drew

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:25 PM

I agree with you I don't know L&C personally, but I was on a flight with them a couple of months ago from Sin to Manado. Not that they would know me!

I know you and I'd avoid you on the plane. I could hear your snoring 10 blocks away! ;)

I think that it is hard to go wrong in Raja Ampat whether you go shore based or liveaboard. Both have +tives and -tives. Personally, I'd always go liveaboard, but I see shore based suiting many.

Absolutely right. The advantage of a land based resort is you can shoot one particular site/area til you are blue in the face for XX days. Misool Eco Resort and Kri/Sorido allow for that on some fantastic sites. Robert, you'll remember last year when I was very happy to sit on a particular site for 3 days but was usurped into moving on while on that liveaboard. That is the magic of R4(Robert, you are so OC for trying to correct ampat to empat, when you should know those damn colonialists couldn't bother to learn to read/write bahasa way back when :o,) the biodiversity of the area.

What I should have written is that live-aboard diving in Raja Empat sucks big-time, the diving is rotten, there are no fish, no photo opps, so please stay away, don't even consider it. Honest, you'll have a terrible time! Much better to go land-based only, and preferably somewhere on the GBR. Or the Red Sea. No good diving here, nossirree!

Now he gets it... Papua Barat has airborne gonorrhea bacteria and herpes viruses. Please stay away.(And that especially includes you mining operators) :) :blush: :mellow:

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#12 divedeepbaby

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:00 PM

I'm looking for the next big photo trip. Bali and Lembeh was awsome. Loved Micronesia and Fiji. So I'm thinking a week at GBR, a week or so at PNG , then over to Raja Ampat for a week to 10 days. That said, what I want is great diving, interesting land tours, and lots of good pictures. Any recommendations?

Thanks.


I have just come back from a trip to Australia and PNG. I flew from Houston via Honolulu, Guam to Cairns. Since I wanted to be sure I had all my equipment before flying to the remotest parts of PNG I jumped on Nimrod Explorer for a 5 day trip which visited some of the nicer Ribbon Reefs and then out to Osprey Reef. Great Boat, Great Crew and exceptional diving!. That trip was a perfect get ready trip before PNG. Thankfully I had all my stuff in order and then I was off to Tufi Dive Resort. I can not speak highly enough of the Resort or Linda Honey who owns the resort. The diving was fantastic and the muck diving was amazing! I managed to exceed 40 hours of bottom time in the 36 dives I did in 2 weeks. The dive staff never rushed me and were totally content in leaving me alone so I could get my shots. They were also exceptional guides with a sharp eye to find the smallest and uglyist of critters. The outer reefs were amazing! Fish life plentiful and not fished out. Dolphins and at times whales were spotted in the flat calm seas. The only negative was that the visability on the reefs were around 100ft I would have liked better viz, but given it was April (end of the wet season) I found it totally acceptable. Topside opportunities were abundant, natives, animals, birds, reptiles could be seen daily and with the right lenses you can and will get some amazing shots.

You can see a lot of my images that I took at Tufi at my website. Check it out, Tufi will not let you down!

Cheers

Terry

Edited by divedeepbaby, 22 July 2008 - 02:02 PM.

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#13 Misool Eco Resort - Cherry

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 03:53 PM

I know you and I'd avoid you on the plane. I could hear your snoring 10 blocks away! :)


Absolutely right. The advantage of a land based resort is you can shoot one particular site/area til you are blue in the face for XX days. Misool Eco Resort and Kri/Sorido allow for that on some fantastic sites. Robert, you'll remember last year when I was very happy to sit on a particular site for 3 days but was usurped into moving on while on that liveaboard. That is the magic of R4(Robert, you are so OC for trying to correct ampat to empat, when you should know those damn colonialists couldn't bother to learn to read/write bahasa way back when :D,) the biodiversity of the area.


Now he gets it... Papua Barat has airborne gonorrhea bacteria and herpes viruses. Please stay away.(And that especially includes you mining operators) :blink: :) :D


Hey Drew... I built my house there dude!!!! Better find the antidote to the plagues!!!!! Probably the only way to stay safe is to stay wet and blowing bubbles...

This pic is of my house over looking the house reef in Batbitim.
Chez_Chezza_09.05.08.jpg

#14 Drew

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 04:36 PM

Nice pastels, Cherry... I guess that cornish taste has left you yet :blink:

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#15 seeesharky

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:24 PM

Tawali Tawali Tamali Tawali
Thats the best place to stay in PNG
I been diving in alot of PNG and Tawali takes the cake.
GBR would have to be Mike Ball for the open decks they run, unlimitd diving, camera facilities
and of course solo diving options

#16 SulawesiDiver

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 07:23 AM

I have found my paradise off Papua

Dreamtime


Waking up in the morning from a big, extended splash underneath my water cottage I recognize millions of small fish being chased by a baby blacktip shark, and then another one and still another one. It doesnít need much to convince me of an early morning snorkeling out into the serene lagoon of Misool Eco Resort (MER). Curious parrotfish accompany me out. And then I bump into a majestic school of large parrot bump-head fish, none less than a meter in size, there might be more than 40 in this group. I can hear them chewing. Their teeth are impressive. On my way back I spot a medium sized hawksbill turtle. Now I am ready for breakfast as I still ďhave to go divingĒ --- but even if I didnít I have already encountered more than I ever would have imagined for a short swim.

Raja Ampat is said to host the greatest variety of marine life and itís supposed to be one of the areas of origin of all life on earth. But predators are foraging: shark finning hunters, also fishing boats from Sulawesi using dynamite to ensure a huge catch within minutes. Misool Eco Resort which is the only resort operating in the Southern Raja Ampat region which otherwise is just being passed through by live-a-boards is the only one dedicated to marine protection. They have rented a large area of 250 sea miles2 around the resort which is marked now as a ďno fishing zoneĒ

Today we are off in one of the speedy dive boats to a manta ray cleaning station. On our way we pass a live-a-board and see some of the crew fishing off the vessel. We interrupt our journey to remind them that they have to stick to the rules set in the protected area if they expect to still do diving here in the years to come. It canít be that the local owners of the area refrain from fishing whereas ďintrudersĒ donít care, Lauren, one of the very knowledgeable dive guides explains. Her eyes, together with local guide Sanggut, spot even the smallest macro creatures. And they have a very good timing to avoid currents which can be violent in Raja Ampat. Still on that same trip we spot a bag filled with rubbish swept ashore. We inspect it and read the name of a live-a-board on the packing, empty bottles of wine, milk, plastic bags. Although they should, it seems that liveaboards operating in the area donít care about the marine conservation as Misool Eco Resort as a stationary enterprise does.

We not only encounter several manta ray this morning, but also jack, emperor, a few white tip sharks and an octopus defending his feast against some ferocious groupers. Lunch is back in the resortís stunning setting. The buildings are all constructed from drift wood which they dug out under meters of sand, as far as Seram. It was cut on site and then arduously transported back to Batbitim, the little island the resort sits on. Buidling here must have involved oceans of sweat and heart blood. A delicious buffet lunch is served in a very stylish octagonal restaurant on the far end of the lagoon which is thatched with elephant grass from Seram. That way itís always nice and cool, also in the cottages (which are too comfortable to leave) and the resort could employ a whole village over several months sowing roof elements. Itís part of their philosophy. Ecological and environmentally friendly as much as is possible and socially responsible.

I didnít know that these bizarre islands must have been inhabited some 60,000 years ago. Andy, the resort manager and director of MER, explains to me when he takes us on an excursion to a little island labyrinth one day. In caverns and ridges just above the waterline we amaze at rock paintings which are thousands of years old. Thereís fish, dolphins, hunters, there are hands in a print negative and there are shells piled up on ledges in a certain pattern that must have been used by the former inhabitants of these waters as sign markers. Itís unreal. Those sharp, bizarre rocks sticking out of the water, some like mushrooms, being shaped by water erosion and wind abrasion. I imagine people paddling their canoes around here and at night gathering for chats and feasts.

During the night dive in the absolutely amazing house reef off the resort we encounter a walking shark and a huge moray eel. I choose to keep my distanceÖ

I am a dive resort owner myself in Sulawesi, a different class though, and this is my hide away. I love to swing in my cottage hammock just above the crystal clear water of the lagoon. I enjoy diving as a guest, not a host. And I am impressed by this stunning beauty under water and the amount of big fish which exceeds what we have in Sulawesi. Visibility is - except for two dives Ė more than 30 metres. Coral colors vivid. Maybe I will come to live out here when I retire. Dreamtime, timeless-