Liveaboard Diving in Papua
What to expect On a Papua liveaboard
Liveaboard diving in Papua is by far the best and most popular way to dive this remote region of the world. Papua is still a frontier destination for diving tourism, with hundreds of dive sites spread across inhabited and uninhabited areas of the peninsula. When you sit on the deck of an Indonesian liveaboard in Papua, especially in the Raja Ampat islands you will feel like you are at the edge of the world.
The Bird’s Head peninsula in Papua is well known for the fascinating traditional indigenous villages and spectacular wildlife. The rainforests in Papua are home to numerous protected areas with very rare bird life and flora. Due to the lack of human interference, there are several very rare animals living here.
The waters around Papua are as wild and tranquil as the rest of the place. They are home to reefs of spectacularly raw beauty and huge marine mammals in surprising quantity. The isolated nature and the sheer number of dive sites also mean that you will often find few other divers around, to be expected when you are so far off the beaten track. What to expect from a liveaboard in Papua? Something a bit special and a little bit ‘out there’.
For those in the know, diving in Papua brings immediately the Raja Ampat islands to mind. Not only is the area in the coral triangle but it the most marine diverse place in the world with more than a thousand species of fish living there. There are also stunning reefs, home to more than five hundred types of soft and hard corals. If that isn’t enough there are also plenty of pelagics to dive with, mantas being the premier attraction.
Liveaboard diving in Papua isn’t all Raja Ampat though, West Papua and the huge Cenderawasih bay hold a lot of attractions for divers too. Fishing activity and the associated superstitions around it have led to an interesting relationship between the locals and the marine life. In Cenderawasih it is not unusual to see locals offering up a free lunch to whale sharks which they believe to be a sign of good fortune.
Dive sites of West Papua
Nicknamed the Four Kings, the Raja Ampat islands are the jewel in the crown of Papua’s dive sites. The diving around this beautiful archipelago is spectacular. Dive sites at Misool and Batanta offer fantastic reefs and great muck diving. At Misool there are numerous types of sharks too, everything from white-tipped reef sharks to the ‘walking shark’, the epaulette shark and wobbegongs. The sites with high currents such as Waigeo and the Dampier strait are also home to manta rays which enjoy feeding on plankton-rich waters brought by deep currents.
On the main peninsula, the bay of Cenderawasih is home to some spectacular sights. Here the fishing platforms that are scattered around the bay act as a diner for larger marine animals. Whalesharks can be seen in groups feeding on the baitfish thrown to them. Dolphins and turtles are also ‘bought off’ with baitfish to keep them away from the main catch. Diving liveaboards in this area tend to drop divers beside the fishing platforms right in the heart of the action.
Top Tips for Divers
- Papua does have the main city Sorong but facilities are limited so bring spares of anything really necessary.
- Bring extra thermal protection, the currents in Raja Ampat can be strong and colder than other areas.
- Raja Ampat is now a marine reserve so a pass must be bought in Sorong before you can visit them.
Getting to Papua
A diving liveaboard is the best, and often the only way to get to most of the main dive sites in Papua. There are a few resorts on land but the facilities are usually pretty basic. The majority of liveaboard diving starts in Sorong, the main city in Papua. There are a few different kinds of diving liveaboard boats to choose from including both motor vessels and traditional Indonesian sailing boats.
The motorised dive cruises offer luxury accommodation and custom-built dive facilities. Indonesian Phinisi, the beautiful tall sailing boats, however, are often even more popular. These lovely wooden boats offer a peaceful and traditional experience, perfect for such a frontier destination.
Getting to the peninsula and your Indonesian diving liveaboard is fairly easy, but it does require a few connections and a fair amount of time. You can fly to Sorong from Jakarta and Singapore via Mando but there are no international flights directly there.
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