Liveaboard Diving in Irian Jaya
What To Expect On A Irian Jaya Liveaboard
Irian Jaya liveaboards visit the province more recently known as the West Papua province was held under Dutch control until 1969 when it became part of Indonesia. The province includes the Bird’s head and Bomberai peninsulas and the Raja Ampat islands to the West. The capital of Irian Jaya is Sorong situated on the Western coast of Bird’s head peninsula, most Indonesian liveaboards visiting Irian Jaya depart from Sorong’s port.
Liveaboard dive cruises departing from Sorong are the very best way to visit the dive sites in this otherwise isolated region. Visitors should remember that this is an adventurous, frontier destination and facilities are limited. Thankfully this means that the dive sites still possess their raw beauty and untouched feel. The feeling in Irian Jaya is amazing, diving off tiny uninhabited islands in crystal clear water bursting with life, it’s a dream come true for liveaboard diving.
Irian Jaya Underwater
Irian Jaya region is incredibly fortunate to be situated in the coral triangle which means that most of the sites you will be scuba diving from a liveaboard in this region, will have a stunning reef as standard. The Raja Ampat islands in particular have some of the finest reefs for diving in Indonesia so it’s no surprise that dive tours here are so popular. These islands are home to more than 600 species of coral and 1,200 species of fish, making this one of the most marine diverse places in the world.
The currents you will experience when diving in Irian Jaya can be quite strong and there is a frequent upwelling of plankton rich water, which means there are ample opportunities to dive with mantas, turtles and even dolphins in Raja Ampat. To the North the huge expanse of Cenderawasih bay also offers a golden opportunity to dive with whalesharks in numbers rarely seen anywhere else in the world. Diving liveaboards in Cenderawasih bay offer dives close to the fishing platforms where whalesharks, turtles and dolphins gather hoping for a free lunch.
Dive Sites of Irian Jaya
There are spectacular diving sites in many parts of Irian Jaya, starting in the South with Triton Bay. This bay is one of the most famous dives sites on the South side of West Papua, not surprising since this dive site alone has more than 900 types of reef fish and more than 400 species of coral. The visibility can be up to 30 meters and there are also bigger fish like barracuda and trevallies. Not that anyone diving in Triton bay should let that distract them from the turtles and mantas that often breeze by, or even the occasional whaleshark.
Whalesharks are also the main attraction for diving liveaboards in Cenderawasih bay. The fishing platforms in this bay have a special attraction for these gentle giants. Believing whalesharks to be good luck the men working on the platforms feed baitfish to them for good fortune. The result being that it is possible to see a concentration of whalesharks that will bowl over even the most experienced divers. Add to that, diving in crystal clear waters, turtles and even dolphins and this site is the cream of the liveaboard diving crop.
Top Tips for Divers
- Irian Jaya has become more developed in recent years but facilities are still basic so bring spares of anything you can’t manage without.
- Reaching Irian Jaya is time consuming so it would be wise to spend a night in Sorong before you diving liveaboard starts to be well rested and make the most of your liveaboard diving.
Getting to Irian Jaya
The isolated nature of Irian Jaya means that as in many areas of Indonesia, liveaboard diving is the only way to reach the best dive sites. Cenderawasih bay in particular is only accessible by scuba. There are many different kinds of liveaboard boats in Irian Jaya, depending on your budget and tastes.
There are several beautifully equipped Indonesian liveaboard motor vessels which offer luxurious accommodation and top of the line diving facilities. One of the most popular options however is to travel on a traditional Indonesian sailing boat. These beautiful liveaboard boats offer a peaceful and authentic journey and custom built dive facilities. Sufficed to say, liveaboard diving in Irian Jaya is like staying on your own luxurious diving hotel in perfect isolation.
In recent years reaching Irian Jaya has become much easier, especially because the expansion of Sorong airport has allowed larger aircraft to land in this area. There are however no international flights into Irian Jaya at the time of writing. Those wanting to board dive cruises in Sorong should fly from Singapore or Jakarta to Manado and then take a domestic flight to Sorong.