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cwills

Scientific survey on Raja Ampat

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Can I ask two questions of all you world-travelers?

 

1) What time(s) of the year have you been in Raja Ampat, and how was the visibility?

 

2) What was your best liveaboard experience there?

 

Thanks!

Edited by cwills

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I've been there quite a few times.

 

October is best, but most of the year is fine. Viz varies quite a bit in my experience.

 

Best to stay at Papua Diving instead of liveaboard.

 

Have Fun

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I've been there quite a few times.

 

October is best, but most of the year is fine. Viz varies quite a bit in my experience.

 

Best to stay at Papua Diving instead of liveaboard.

 

Have Fun

 

 

Thanks for the info. Sorry for the delay in replying. Just got back from an Ocean Rover trip to the Andaman sea - great crew and great bunch of people. Is there something comparable in Raja Ampat?

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Can I ask two questions of all you world-travelers?

 

1) What time(s) of the year have you been in Raja Ampat, and how was the visibility?

 

2) What was your best liveaboard experience there?

 

Thanks!

 

What kind of research will you be doing out there?? Is it easy to get permits for research?

 

Sounds interesting!

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South Raja gets pretty windy in the 'summer' which is the June-Sept timeframe. That can mean some rough seas. Otherwise, any time can be great to dive.

 

Quote: Is there something comparable in Raja Ampat?

 

Comparable to what? Are you asking about the dive operator or the diving? The reefs and an reef life exceed that of any place on the planet. As to operatores...not familiar with the Ocean Rover to compare it.

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Thanks, the weather information is what I was looking for.

 

I hoped that I would get enough responses to build up a consensus on diving conditions and dive operators - that's what I meant about a "scientific survey!"

 

The Ocean Rover is a well-run boat with super divemasters who know every inch of the Andaman Sea. (And the food is great!) Anybody had a similar experience at Raja Ampat?

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Ahhh, i see!

 

Silly me!

 

Well, i'd go there pretty soon, before all the resorts open up flooding the pristine reefs with faeces and silt from construction, then of course everyone will want to go to the last frontier for diving so people will be heading there with 5 dives and kicking the hell out of the reef. Oh joy!

 

Try to choose a responsible tour operator though! (there was a thread about one liveaboard fishing in the park areas, i'll try and find the name of the vessel / company)

 

 

Yes, i am in a cynical mood today!!

 

 

 

Thanks, the weather information is what I was looking for.

 

I hoped that I would get enough responses to build up a consensus on diving conditions and dive operators - that's what I meant about a "scientific survey!"

 

The Ocean Rover is a well-run boat with super divemasters who know every inch of the Andaman Sea. (And the food is great!) Anybody had a similar experience at Raja Ampat?

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We are signed up for our 4 th trip in the last 3 years abpard the Adventure H2O to this area. With over 60 live aboard trips,we believe this ship is the greatest!

 

A 75 ft catamarand and carries a max of 10 divers, and a crew of 10.

 

It has hosted Doubliet, Newbert, Human and DeLoach among others in the past year.

 

http://www.adventureh2o.com/

 

There is no rainy season there, but I woild advoid June - August as it can get windy.

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One big problem with the Adventure H2O... shared bathrooms! For $350+ a day, I'd like to sit on my throne a bit longer. Also not a lot of space to work on cameras if there are many photogs onboard. If you are looking for a modern boat with dive platforms like the OR vs the old school Phinisi wood design, then you are pretty have little choice. And Larry Smith is il padrino of muck. And there's also the Kararu's newish Voyager, which I haven't been on so I can't comment.

As for Papua Diving, one has to remember Rajah Empat is a large area and while a resort allows you to explore the nearby islands in one area, it does limit your choice of dive sites (like no Misool, Kofiau etc). Max does know the sites around where he is, but still no diving on saturdays since he's a devout 7th Day adventist.

Is there somewhere comparable to Rajah Empat? Definitely, but I'd have to kill you after I told you, according to some operators. :)

Depending on the "research" you are doing, if it's not nuclear or toxic and doesn't involve cloning and stem cells, it'd be easier to do it from a land based resort. There are now going to be 3 resorts in 2 wholly different parts of the 4 kings (or Roger's Armpit if said in a certain non-asian accent :excl:). A liveaboard will give you coverage but less time per site, unless you charter it.

Other boats that does the area, Seven Seas (with the legendary microscope eyed Tommy and Mark Heighes as skipper), Sea Horse (which you can check out in the trip reports in WP), Pindito (a venerable member of the pioneering liveaboards in Indo), the Shakti (the Virgin Blue of the liveaboards) and the antithesis of the shakti, the Archipelago Adventurer, which is as luxurious as they come in phinisi boats. Personally I'd choose based on itinerary and time of the month for viz etc than who is on what boat.

Good luck

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"One big problem with the Adventure H2O... shared bathrooms! For $350+ a day, I'd like to sit on my throne a bit longer."

 

:):excl:

 

I know the feeling...Literally.

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

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Thanks for all the info! I'll check it out. And I'll check with my wife about the shared bathroom problem.

Edited by cwills

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Supposedly the Kararu Voyager is quite nice for a trip to Raja Ampat.

 

Those people that have been there, how were visas handled?

 

Cor

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Cor, what visas are you referring to? The Indo tourist visa (you can get that when you land at the airport) or the visitor permit for Papua Barat (you just have to bring 3 passport photos, and 3 copies of your visa stamp in your passport, which should be all done by your boat agent).

I hope to go check out the voyager soon.

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Cor, what visas are you referring to? The Indo tourist visa (you can get that when you land at the airport) or the visitor permit for Papua Barat (you just have to bring 3 passport photos, and 3 copies of your visa stamp in your passport, which should be all done by your boat agent).

I hope to go check out the voyager soon.

VOA is not an option for citizens of **all** countries, so check. The passport photos are no longer required, the copies of visa are not required, you just need 3 copies of passport picture pages. The boat will collect 100 bucks for park fee. I've visited Raja 3 times, my 4th is in two weeks, and these things, save the money, have changed a couple times over those 4 trips. And except for the money no one has ever asked to see or collect the photos or copies at the time they were "required".

 

In my experience Papua is a moving target and one should attempt to get the most current info rather than accepting what any of us experienced during our last trips, regardless how recent.

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DRK

The permit is just another excuse to collect money so the paper work isn't always filled by the tourist but the liveaboard reps. I have actually submitted the passport copies and photos once. Other times, as you have experienced too, the boat companies "prearrange" the permits for faster service.

As for Visa On Arrival, 52 countries qualify for the VOA, Cor being Dutch qualifies... but just so since they added the netherlands to the list last may :) :

• Argentina

• Australia

• Austria

• Bahrain

• Belgium

• Brazil

• Bulgaria

• Cambodia

• Canada

• Cyprus

• Denmark

• Egypt

• Estonia

• Finland

• France

• Germany

• Greece

• Hungary

• Iceland

• India

• Iran

• Ireland

• Italy

• Japan

• Kuwait

• Laos

• Liechensteia

• Luxembourg

• Maldives

• Malta

• Mexico

• Monaco

• Netherlands

• New Zealand

• Norway

• Oman

• People’s Republic of China

• Poland

• Portugal

• Qatar

• Russia

• Saudi Arabia

• South Africa

• South Korea

• Spain

• Suriname

• Switzerland

• Sweden

• Taiwan

• The Netherlands

• United Arab Emirates

• United Kingdom

• United States of America

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I've been there quite a few times.

 

October is best, but most of the year is fine. Viz varies quite a bit in my experience.

 

Best to stay at Papua Diving instead of liveaboard.

 

Have Fun

 

-_-

Stay on shore is better than a liveaboard??? Are you kidding? Raja Ampat is a HUGE area consisting of many small islands that are mostly uninhabited and seperated by lotsa open water. Without a big boat, you will be severely limiting the variety of diving you will have. While I was there, weather kept us away from some areas and if that was where your resort was, well, you would be screwed. A long was to go to be relegated to only a few dive sites.

 

I stayed on the Odyssea 1 which is a new boat cruising RA. It is large and completely designed with the photographer in mind, with a room specifically designed for processing.

Edited by AllisonFinch

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-_-

Stay on shore is better than a liveaboard??? Are you kidding? Raja Ampat is a HUGE area consisting of many small islands that are mostly uninhabited and seperated by lotsa open water. Without a big boat, you will be severely limiting the variety of diving you will have. While I was there, weather kept us away from some areas and if that was where your resort was, well, you would be screwed. A long was to go to be relegated to only a few dive sites.

 

I stayed on the Odyssea 1 which is a new boat cruising RA. It is large and completely designed with the photographer in mind, with a room specifically designed for processing.

 

 

Buuuuuuutttttt.......

 

If the Storm had hit the Boats home dock, you may not have been leaving at all, i think the weather is so random it's hard to use it at a reason to pick Liveaboards over resorts. On the boat i used to work on we had to get to a different port by the end of the week, as we went from A to B one week then B to A the next. This means you have to sometimes go against all logic as a captain and go directly into bad weather to ensure your guests get home and your next ones get a vacation.

 

 

I love liveaboards, you get loads of dives and a lot of variety, cheaply. But if i'm going critter diving i like to go to the same divesite lots of times to really explore. You find that you see completely different stuff at different times in the day. This is often quite difficult to do on a liveaboard, with conflicting interests of the guests and schedules to keep.

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-_-

Stay on shore is better than a liveaboard??? Are you kidding? Raja Ampat is a HUGE area consisting of many small islands that are mostly uninhabited and seperated by lotsa open water. Without a big boat, you will be severely limiting the variety of diving you will have. While I was there, weather kept us away from some areas and if that was where your resort was, well, you would be screwed. A long was to go to be relegated to only a few dive sites.

 

I stayed on the Odyssea 1 which is a new boat cruising RA. It is large and completely designed with the photographer in mind, with a room specifically designed for processing.

 

Sigh Allison... please don't remind of the crowded paradise. In 98, there were 1.5 liveaboards(one occasionally came up) and 1 resort in the area and 1 resort. 07 has 13 boats and 2 resorts(with 1 more coming). :(

 

However, as Simon says (sorry I had to), sitting on a site for a specific shot is better done land based, even if the choice of sites are limited. Depends on what the person going wants.

Cwills wants to do reef surveys. Depending on what kind of surveys (fish count, coral count, species specific) a land based ops may be better.

 

Cwills, if you want to do some serious marine biology work. Conservation International, WWF and a few independent scientists have projects in the area. I was just talking to a few biologists about the turtle nesting program in Misool 3 days ago.

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May as well put my hat into tthe ring on this subject.

 

Based our Yacht in front of KRI ECO resort and dived for 10 days solid last year, Max is a great host , OTTO is agreater guide , enjoyed the entertainment & insights provided by our guest Larry Tackett ( great guy , good educator ) we spent a few nights with Max at Sorido bay for dinner (like nothing you have ever had before ) , heading back again for two or three weeks in May.

 

For my money the local diving from Kri is the equal of anything on offer, certainly the ability to repeat the dive if wished is great advantage - that said we will be spending some ( alot ) time south at FAKFAK , and possibly Misool on the way back.

 

IT all good just have to pick the best conditions for the time of the year.

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I'll toss in my thoughts on this topic. We have done over 1000 dives in Raja Ampat since 1999 and

have 3 charters in 2007 on SMY Ondina.

 

July and August are too windy and wild around the Dampier Strait, Kri, Waigeo, Batanta, Wai etc. We did one trip in July and August and it was rough, wet and very windy.

 

We have been in Raja Ampat every month except Jan-Mar and have had the best trips in NOV-DEC.

 

Here is a link to a review of a trip to Raja Ampat in Nov. 2006.

 

Trip Report for Raja Ampat Nov 2006

 

Take a link below to see about a liveaboard trip on SMY Ondina.

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Max does have a fairly nice place. When we dropped in, David Doubelet (SP?) from National Geographic was there with a trainload of equipment. However, that place is outrageously expensive. For a mere 100 eur. you can stay in the old section with no air conditioning, no screens, thatched rooves that haven't been repaired and has holes. It was not even fun/rough. If you could afford the new side (a long walk for the poor people) I guess it would be nice. Me, I'll kick back on the boat.

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We have been in Raja Ampat every month except Jan-Mar and have had the best trips in NOV-DEC.
Tony, are Nov.-Dec. consistently good?

 

I have been 3 times, Feb., Mar. and October, all were similar to me. The big constant was that for all the wonderful animals and environment I never had consistently good water for wide angle. In a place like Raja THAT is frustrating <_< Even as I look around the web there is a dearth of good wide angle with good background water. I have considered giving up on Raja because shooting macro for days on end just isn't appetizing. We have always had an abundance of subjects, but good wide angle water was infrequent at best. Hence, I read your advert about raja trips based on tides, moon phase etc. with great and hopeful interest.

 

Do you get reasonably consistent good water in Nov-Dec, or is water clarity an occasional condition? I guess I am just wondering how much better you have found Nov-Dec to be over the rest of the months Raja is dived, as it applies to water clarity and shooting wide angle? ^_^

 

As far as where to stay, I have always liked the option of moving on to another place if water and conditions weren't particularly good at a given location. My last trip was this past February and we anchored a couple days at Kri when David and Jen were there. Kri was awful for those two days. Probably the worst water conditions we had for the whole two weeks. You could shoot all the macro you wanted and chase a few fish around but anything wide was out of the question. Currents were significant in the afternoon too, but that is my Kri experience on all 3 trips. In a case like this having the latitude to move on is sometimes a welcome option.

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As I have said, I just returned from RA. We did mostly the southern areas. I was very disappointed in the vis. Lots of particulates in the water. Unfortunately, those healthy well fed reefs feed on all that stuff. I guess to get that great biodiversity, you have to pay the price. I had only a few days worthy of wide angle shooting.

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Tony, are Nov.-Dec. consistently good?

I have been 3 times, Feb., Mar. and October, all were similar to me. ....

Do you get reasonably consistent good water in Nov-Dec, or is water clarity an occasional condition?

 

We don't think viz or conditions are guaranteed at any time of the year at any location. In our experience, mid-October to mid-Dec have consistently the best conditions in Raja Ampat. least rain, best weatther. Viz is variable any time of the year. Our experience is that viz does vary, sometimes from day to day, so we are prepared to alter the itinerary based on what we find.

 

We get first pick of each year's liveaboard schedule before it is published, so the dates we choose are those we believe have best conditions.

 

We do a lot of wide angle, probably 80%. Some days we put the ship at a good macro spot and let everyone dive as much as they want. Other days we plan for wide angle (one can always shoot macro). We sit with the captain, our local "expert" and look at the currents, then choose our dive site based on that and the time of day (for the angle of the sun). Some sites we do the other liveaboards don't. One is a site we tend to base the rest of our itinerary around since for good diving there it is critical to get the current in the right direction with the sun at the right angle. It is one of the photographer's favorites.

 

I can't imagine a trip in Raja Ampat doing mostly macro! Have you seen our galleries?

 

Raja Ampat Gallery 1

Raja Ampat Gallery 2

Raja Ampat Gallery 3

 

2006 was the worst year we've had for viz. One of our favorite sites for wide angle had terrible viz. We'd planned to spend the day there, but instead moved the boat 1.5 hours to a site that had excellent viz. Kri also was disappointing on the 2nd trip. Viz was pretty good, but No fish! First time we'd done dives there that were boring. We noticed the top of the reef was all broken up (recently as chunks of coral when moved revealed perfect coral underneath) and the "Koteka" was broken off. Possibly from too many divers grabbing onto it in the current.

 

I like land-based diving but in Raja Ampat you miss too much of the best stuff staying at one place... plus are stuck in one spot. Add up the costs of the land based with surcharges for trips to Fam, etc. and it will be more than a liveaboard. We do 4-7 dives per day, so if you add that in too.... liveaboard is less expensive, visits more sites and depending on the flexibility of the cruise/charter has the option to move if conditions are not right.

 

Also.. Seven Seas is a very nice new boat. Last Dec. we looked at chartering it for photo trips and determined that SMY Ondina is much better for photo groups & lots of diving so are sticking with it for all our groups. Ondina does have ensuite bath in each cabin !! plus a lot more storage space. SMY Ondina does not do marketing in the USA and Deb is the only agent for them. We feel very lucky to have found it.

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