Diving Diary – Raja Ampat, Indonesia – Nick Longstaff
The next edition of our diving diaries comes from one of our Sales Team Leaders, Nick Longstaff. Based in Thailand, Nick has completed 32 dives and has dived in Komodo (Indonesia), Thailand and the Philippines. Next up on his list is the Solomons and Papua New Guinea in May! Let’s see what he has to say about his trip to Raja Ampat…
Barry, my dad, and I arrived at 6.30am at Sorong Airport. We were picked up from the airport by Gee, one of the best dive guides I’ve ever had, and taken to the Swiss-Belhotel. The hotel was a perfect place to chill. After relaxing by the pool and enjoying a fantastic traditional Indonesian breakfast, we left at 1:00pm to embark the boat. Upon arrival on board S/Y Indo Siren we were met by the crew who all had huge smiles on their faces. We then had our arrival briefings before setting up our equipment on the vessel.
Our first day of diving started spectacularly with incredible corals and an abundance of marine life around us in the water. On our first dive at the Candy Store we were met by a shoal of barracuda and massive shoals of dog tooth tuna. Gee, who is without doubt a ninja to dive with, managed to find 6 sea horses on one dive and pointed out some mating cuttlefish. It was a great feeling being back in the water and seeing why Raja Ampat is so famous for coral life.
Magic Mountain was the first dive of the day today and we managed to spot an Oceanic Manta Ray which was spectacular. The water temperature was around 290C, perfect for diving in a 3mm shorty. After Magic Mountain we dived one of my favourite sites which was Boo windows. I’ve never seen so many fish in one area. The visibility was no more than 5m because you couldn’t see through the huge shoals of fish and black tip reef sharks!
Today was all about Two Trees. It was the third dive of the day and a truly fantastic one. We dived with 11 devil rays who were circling us and feeding on fish! An amazing experience which I will never forget. We also dived the Gorgonian Passage and I’ve never seen so many incredible Gorgonian fans, turtles and white tip reef sharks. An epic day.
We spent today out of the water and visited Piaynemo (pictured below). This beautiful island, surrounded by lots of small islands, has spectacular views of Raja Ampat. We stayed here for a couple of hours and had a superb BBQ on the beach and which was one of the highlights of my trip. Whilst we were chilling on the beach you could see juvenile black tip sharks in the ocean and swimming in the mangroves which was a cool way to finish the day trip.
I only dived twice today due to my ear drums causing me a bit of grief. However, I managed to dive Melissa’s Garden which is an incredibly diverse dive site. We managed to see manta rays and turtles glide right by us. On my next dive, we had close encounters with dolphins which capped a great second dive.
With my ears getting back to normal I was back to a full day of diving. We dived Blue Sandy and Arborek Jetty for the first dive of the day and hit the Manta cleaning station. Straight away we were diving with 4 manta rays and white tip reef sharks cruising around us. With no other dive vessels close by, we had the whole dive site to ourselves for the full 60 minutes. This was another memorable dive and my second-best diving day of the trip.
Today was easily the best Manta experience I had on the whole trip. We dived Blue Magic and two Mantas stayed around us for the whole dive. Whilst one of the mantas was circling I ended up underneath and managed to get a nice close up view as it drifted slowly over my head. On top of this, I also managed to see 2 Wobbegong Sharks relaxing on top of the reef.
My ears started playing up again today, so I decided to give the last day of diving a miss to visit Sondarek whilst the other guests were diving. We were met by some fascinated locals who kept wanting to take our pictures. We also managed to buy some Jack Fruit from the back of someone’s garden. At the end of the last day, all the guests came together to have a group picture, cocktails and a lot of beer!
Today we disembarked the vessel and started the journey back home to Thailand.
Our trip was amazing. After diving in Komodo in September, it gave me a complete view of two of the most dived places in Indonesia and Raja Ampat has really opened my eyes to the macro world. A big thank you to the crew who were incredible as always and all of the guests onboard our trip.