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  1. These are some lessons learned from an Oct., 2017 weekly-long trip to Raja Ampat. Yes, it's two years' old, but I'm catching up on Wetpixel, and I don't think the meat of this post has changed much. Raja Ampat: I stayed at the Palau Explorers Resort, and boy do I recommend that option. It's centrally-located in the middle of Dampier Straight--a 10-20 minute boat ride from several of Raja's premier dive sites. Your diving on a site with 4-5 other resort residents in your own boat, rather than jumping in with the whole live-aboard cast. The resort's lodging, food and ambience all favor this land-based option; and, you get a lot interaction with the locals, who built much of the lodge and are deeply entwined with it. Dive site wise, please find the time to dive Melissa's Garden--far and away the most diverse and abundant site I've ever encountered in 37 years of diving. Take a look at my video at: https://vimeo.com/manage/248019672/general It's a full day's boat ride out of Dampier Strait, but worth the trip (and do take both dives at Melissa's--don't let them talk you into a "second dive" elsewhere). On the other side, don't expect much at Manta Sandy. The site is sandy (as the name implies), and the visibility in October was very poor (and hence no worthwhile pictures). You're required to lay in the sand at a designated border, which puts a lot of grit between you and the mantas. It's all necessary to protect the site, but I found it the one disappointment of my trip. The snorkelers had a better view--you might try that option. The video: The video was taken with the Sony RX 100 IV, with the Nauticam housing. The one noticeable flaw in the video is the insufficient lighting. I used two Sola A Video 3800F lights at full power, and they didn't throw enough light in my opinion to capture the exquisite colours. But the video will give you a flavor of the wonders of Melissa's Garden (the 1st half of the video is all of the Garden). Happy diving.
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