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North Sulawesi and Raja Ampat

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I recently returned from my first trip to Indonesia. It was a group trip organized by Ed Robinson. It was wonderful to reconnect with friends from past trips and to make new ones that I hope to see again on a future trip.

 

Travel from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada required a 4 hour drive followed by 4 flights to get to the first stop on our journey at Minahasa Lagoon south of Manado. I managed to get in 5 dives at Minahasa. For the last 3 dives I was the only customer aboard ... a private charter. I could get used to that. :lol: I opted to dive near Minahasa rather than spend an hour crossing to Bunaken. The diving I did near Minahasa was mostly muck diving with some coral areas and some seagrass too. Having my own dive guide meant a barrage of photo opportunities of weird and wonderful critters. The resort was awesome. Wonderful accommodations and great food.

 

We packed up after our short stay at Minahasa and headed for the airport to catch our flight to Sorong. The flight to Sorong was uneventful for us. Not so for our luggage. Several pieces were left behind due to the full flight. The dive guides from the Pindito met us at the airport and took good care of us from the start. The missing luggage caused some consternation and a change in plans. But it all worked out in the end when the missing luggage showed up the next day. We boarded the Pindito in Sorong Harbor and were sorted into our rooms. The Pindito is large and comfortable. Plenty of space for divers and gear. 13 divers were well taken care of by 18 Indonesian crew, 3 European dive guides, and the owner Edi. We set sail (technically motored, not sailed) and made our first stop close to the harbor so the missing luggage could be retrieved the next day. Diving in the harbor is not exactly the most spectacular place to start, but it provided a good opportunity to get in a refresher dive and a gear check for those who had not dived yet. The best diving was to come.

 

For the next 11 days we experienced some of the world's best diving. Smiles abounded. Stories flowed. And the cameras were poured over right after the dive to see what we saw. Everybody settled into the routine quickly. Eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, drink giant bottles of Bintang, sleep. Then do it all again.

 

Although we saw a vast array of cool macro critters, we were also treated to a couple of dives with mantas. On the second manta dive my group opted to try a different site ... Manta Sandy. We were not disappointed. A half dozen mantas were hanging around getting cleaned. We gave them some space and got some shots. After awhile we crept closer. Then closer again. The mantas began to pass directly over us. Kona without the crowds. After more time we were able to rise up among the mantas. They had become accustomed to us. It made for some great photos and an even better experience. On the ride back in the zodiac we came across several mantas feeding at the surface. We jumped in and snorkeled with them. A huge manta passed directly below me only inches away. It was a special moment.

 

The soft coral was so beautiful that I even shot wide angle on a few dives, something I am not known to do. Coral vistas with schooling fish provided countless photo opportunities. Visibility was fantastic. The sun shone brightly.

 

The final night aboard we were back in Sorong Harbor. The crew joined us for a feast then put on a show with singing and dancing. We danced the night away, reluctant to let it all come to an end. But it always does, doesn't it? At least until next time.

 

The entire gallery is at my website. Here are a few samples.

 

 

RajaAmpat09.jpg

 

 

RajaAmpat26.jpg

 

 

RajaAmpat15.jpg

 

 

RajaAmpat19.jpg

 

 

RajaAmpat35.jpg

 

 

RajaAmpat27.jpg

 

 

RajaAmpat45.jpg

 

 

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Simply spectaclar John. Congrats on a great trip! Thanks for the wonderful write up too. I couldn't even begin to try a pick a favorite, the whole set is special. I bet you were smiling all the way home.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Those are some great shots!

 

Since my trip to lembeh was canceled i was debating on booking another one to lembeh or changing it to Raja. Those kind of pictures sure are helping change my mind.

 

Keep those beautiful shots coming.

 

-K

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That's a great set of images. I think that I recognise the black manta from last year, diving off Seven Seas, but we didn't get anything like that close on the sandy patch. I was trying to shoot up past the sweepers on the bommies, but the mantas wouldn't play. Do you think that's a good enough excuse to have to go back?

 

Tim

 

:lol:

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Fantastic, incredible colour!

 

Thanks for sharing,

Mark

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Looks like a great trip, excellent photos. Sitting here in my Minahasa t-shirt as I read this :lol:

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"Eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, drink giant bottles of Bintang, sleep." I LOVE that schedule! :lol:

 

Phil

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Your shots are simply stunning! That's a great shot of the flambuoyant cuttlefish. My shot, taken at Lembeh Resort, pales in comparison to yours.

 

Thanks for sharing these awesome images.

 

Ellen

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Great set, I really like colors, thanks for sharing!

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