Liveaboard Diving in Papua

What to expect On a Papua Liveaboard

Liveaboard diving in Papua is the best and most popular way to dive in this remote region. Papua is still a frontier destination for diving tourism, with hundreds of dive sites spread across inhabited and uninhabited peninsula areas. Sitting on the deck of an Indonesian liveaboard in Papua, especially in the Raja Ampat islands, you will feel at the world's edge.

The Bird’s Head peninsula in Papua is well known for its fascinating traditional indigenous villages and spectacular wildlife. The rainforests in Papua are home to numerous protected areas with rare bird life and flora. Due to the lack of human interference, several very rare animals live 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.’

Papua Underwater

For those in the know, diving in Papua immediately brings the Raja Ampat islands to mind. The area in the coral triangle is 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 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 its associated superstitions have led to an interesting relationship between the locals and 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 epaulet 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 has some spectacular sights. Here the fishing platforms scattered around the bay act as a diner for larger marine animals. Whale sharks 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 has the main city Sorong but facilities are limited, so bring spares of anything necessary.
  • Bring extra thermal protection; the currents in Raja Ampat can be strong and colder than in 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. A few resorts are on land, but the facilities are usually pretty basic. Most liveaboard diving starts in Sorong, the main city in Papua. There are a few different kinds of diving liveaboard boats, including motor vessels and traditional Indonesian sailing boats.

The motorized dive cruises offer luxury accommodations and custom-built dive facilities. However, Indonesian Phinisi, the beautiful tall sailing boats, 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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