Liveaboard Diving in Raja Ampat

What To Expect on a Raja Ampat Liveaboard

Liveaboards in Raja Ampat are the perfect way to explore this amazing dive area. Allowing divers to visit remote and unspoiled areas of Indonesia. Synonymous with stunning islets, crystal clear water and beautiful white sand beaches Raja Ampat is one of Indonesia's most beautiful regions. The archipelago is made up of more than 1,500 islands scattered across a large section of the coral triangle close to New Guinea, perfect for divers to explore by liveaboard. Its fortunate position between the Indian and Pacific oceans means that it is looked upon as one of the richest areas of marine life in the world.

Besides the numerous smaller islets there are four main islands that Raja Ampat liveaboards visit: Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. These islands give rise to the name of the archipelago, ‘the Four Kings’. Local legend tells a story of how four kings emerged from eggs that were found by a woman after they hatched they each became a ruler of one of the main islands.

The area was subsequently conquered by the Europeans and was possessed by the Dutch for a time. In modern times the main industry is tourism, the population are Indonesian and most work either in the tourism industry or fishing. The area has recently introduced a marine park fee for liveaboard visitors to help with the efforts to conserve the marine life in Raja Ampat. This fee helps to support patrols and projects to conserve the reefs. Despite the blossoming tourist industry in Raja Ampat, the area manages to retain its untouched feel especially on a liveaboard anchored off mostly uninhabited islands.

Raja Ampat underwater

The biodiversity of Raja Ampat is second to none, scuba diving here is sure to delight all divers. It was declared the most biodiverse place in the world in 2002. The marine park area is home to over a thousand different species of fish and more than five hundred different corals. Much of the diving in Raja Ampat is in reefs amongst the spread of tiny islands, so a dive cruise suits visiting this area perfectly. These reefs are glorious with an array of colours and unique fish of all shapes and sizes. The visibility can be slightly variable but normally around 25-30 meters is the norm.

There are plenty of sharks to be seen in Raja Ampat from white and black tipped reef sharks to whale sharks and even some rarer ones such as wobbegong shark. Wobbegong sharks are fascinating bottom dwelling sharks, flat with a long tail and what looks like a beard on their mouth they really are a photographer’s dream.

Mantas are also frequent visitors to Raja Ampat and they can be seen in sizeable groups passing over the reefs. Turtles can often be seen grazing on the coral reef and in some areas, pods of dolphins can also pop by to delight divers.

There are a wide variety of Raja Amat liveaboards to suit all budgets. From 5 day liveaboard tours to luxury liveaboard vessels offering 2 week dive trips, there is something for everyone.

Dive sites of Raja Ampat

The dive sites of Raja Ampat can be varied in the fish and critters living on the different reefs but they are almost all spectacular in their own way.

Misool Island, nicknamed ‘the kaleidoscope’, is special because of the riot of colours across the reefs. Macro lovers will be mesmerised with a huge variety of corals full of all kinds of critters and small reef fish. Pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish and a rainbow of nudibranchs make ideal subjects for macro photographers.

Waigeo is similarly blessed with a rich variety of fish life. Lionfish are hanging around between rocks and you might also catch a glimpse of a juvenile emperor angelfish with its hypnotic colour scheme and clownfish peeking out of an anemone. Fish life is also the main spectacle at Dampier Strait with shoals of trevallies and tuna which can be so huge they affect the visibility in places. The current is particularly hard in this area and it is normally a drift dive.

Mansuar is the place to be for bigger stuff. Here is where the groups of mantas can be seen gracefully swooping past. Turtles are also frequent visitors feeding around the reef along with a host of fish life and beautiful corals.

Cenderawasih Bay, on the other hand, is where you can go to try and find whale sharks. There is a special relationship between these gentle giants and the local fishermen who believe in the luck. They traditionally give fish to the whale shark to bring luck as well which means that there can be several in this area at a time. There isn’t really a season for whale sharks here either so there really is a good chance to dive with them all year round.

Top Tips For divers

  • Sea conditions are usually good here but the currents are quite strong so this isn’t really a place for brand new divers.
  • There is a one-hundred-dollar marine park fee to be paid upon entering the protected area. This fee pays to continue conservation in the region.
  • October to April is the most popular season for diving liveaboards here, although you can dive all year round.
  • The water is warm, 26-30 degrees but be mindful of fire urchins when choosing your skin coverage.

Getting to Raja Ampat

Although getting to Raja Ampat is not difficult it does require several flights and boat journeys as there are no direct international flights. You can fly to Sorong from Jakarta and some other larger airports. From here the most popular way to reach the dive sites is by diving on an Indonesian liveaboard. There are a few resorts but the vast majority of diving is from dedicated dive cruises.

There are both motor-boat dive cruises, and the more traditional sailing tours on the grand Indonesian Phinisi sailboats on offer. These beautiful boats offer a peaceful and authentic dive safari experience while you are diving in this isolated and stunning place.


Raja Ampat Diving Reviews

  • 9.2 Superb
  • 97 Verified Reviews
  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Gabriela F
  • Brazil Brazil

Amazing. Gardens of corals, great and diverse marine life, warm water.

Diving Raja Ampat in August on the Ratu Laut

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • shuge Q
  • China China

Good place to see the school fish

Diving Raja Ampat in August on the Raja Manta

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Albert B
  • Spain Spain

It was good. All the dice sites were very easy, but I believe it is the nature of the area.

Diving Raja Ampat in January on the Pearl of Papua

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Isabelle M
  • United States United States

Great. We went when tides were waning, so there was less fish life than normal. Still incredible, and we found a Walking Shark and two Wobbegong Sharks.

Diving Raja Ampat in April on the Manta Mae

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Cindy P
  • United States United States

Overall, diving in Raja Ampat is one of the best in the world! So much variety!

Diving Raja Ampat in April on the Sea Safari 8

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Ryan B
  • United States United States

Great, good viz which isnt always the case. Great lagoon trip also.

Diving Raja Ampat in April on the Samambaia

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Ryan S
  • United States United States

Consistently beautiful and full of life.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Samambaia

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • wenceslao marcos O
  • Spain Spain

Wonderfull, beautifull dive sites.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Seahorse

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Michael G
  • United States United States

Overall the diving was excellent. Lots of fish, both large and very small. The coral was extremely healthy.

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Mari

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Sarah Hiu Hung K
  • Hong Kong Hong Kong

great visibility, plenty of coral and fish

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Raja Ampat Explorer

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Kornelia M
  • Germany Germany

We are snorkelers. The overall experience was overwhelming.

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Kira Kira

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • John L
  • United States United States

The reefs are fabulous. I have many dives under my belt, but I saw a number of species that were new to me, and the big Mantas were a fabulous treat. The reefs rival the Red Sea, where I lived for 3 years. Diving gets no better.

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Sea Safari VI

  • 8.4 Very good
  • daeseung K
  • South Korea South Korea

Very Good. I could see my favorite fish, coral.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Empress II

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Priyank P
  • India India

Absolutely as it reads on paper. Excellent

Diving Raja Ampat in November on the Calico Jack

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Charles G
  • United States United States

The best, shame the flights there from the US are just long and painful. Still it is the best diving I've ever seen. I've dove Mexico, Zanzibar, Malawi, the Bahamas, Palau, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Belize and some more remote parts of the great barrier reef(and more)... but Raja Ampat is it.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Tambora Liveaboard

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Virginia M
  • Argentina Argentina

Excellent. Somewhat scary for me since I am not an experienced diver

Diving Raja Ampat in November on the Manta Mae

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Helga B
  • Italy Italy

Corals are well preserved, many big schools of fish, many different species, really wonderful dives.

Diving Raja Ampat in October on the Pearl of Papua

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Carolyn M
  • Australia Australia

So much to see and such great variety of diving between the north and south of Raja Ampat. Does not mater if you are looking for small stuff or prefer the big schools of fish there is something for everyone often in the same dive. The colours of the soft corals and sponges are just amazing.

Diving Raja Ampat in October on the Mutiara Laut

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • JONATHAN C
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

It's ok, but has nothing on Vobster Quay in England. Only joking, this is the best diving we have ever had.

Diving Raja Ampat in January on the Mermaid II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Michael W
  • United States United States

Some of the best, if not the best I have ever experienced. Similar to the best in Palau. Best fish subjects of anywhere, and so many of them.

Diving Raja Ampat in April on the Blue Manta

  • 7.6 Good
  • Joe M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Some currents to swim against, the weather was a little overcast so the colours were a little less vibrant underwater but plenty of fish to see. Just missed the octopuses

Diving Raja Ampat in April on the Pearl of Papua

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Michael S
  • United States United States

Best diving to date for me. 20 years/200+ dives

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the White Manta Indonesia

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Ronald B
  • United States United States

Raja Ampat was the best overall dive experience we've had. To put it simply, there's just more of everything. A liveaboard is the only way to go.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Mermaid II

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Michael J
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Great diving , loads to see and so many species of fish and coral. Good visability and some sharks but not as many as I had hoped. Good time with Mantas though

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Aurora

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Renato G
  • Brazil Brazil

Wonderful. Corals are the most preverdes and beautiful in the world. Warm water.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Blue Manta

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Daniel M
  • United States United States

Diving was great! The sites we went to were fantastic, even though it was very end of the season. We had a good combination of muck diving and current surfing.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Sea Safari VI

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Patrick M
  • Germany Germany

Possibly some of the best in the world!

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Empress II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • G Jonathan A
  • United States United States

The diving in Raja Ampat is extraordinary. The biodiversity makes every dive unique and the variety of dive sites (walls, reefs, slopes, gardens etc) makes it impossible to get enough.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the La Galigo

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • David N
  • Australia Australia

Fantastic. You need to be mindful that many sites have currents and you need to be comfortable in this environment.

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Tambora

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Ryan B
  • United States United States

The diving was out of this world! Although the visibility was less than we expected, it didn't hinder the quality of the diving. There is no place on earth like Raja Ampat for large schools of fish, the variety and colors of soft coral, and the weirdness of animals like the Wobegon, crocodile fish, and manta rays! The biodiversity is unsurpassed anyway in the world! I wish we could keep this area "our little secret" so as to preserved it forever!

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Mermaid I

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Werner W
  • Austria Austria

Stunning! Everything we hoped for and more.

Diving Raja Ampat in January on the Kira Kira

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Hao Yuh S
  • Taiwan Taiwan

definitely the world's no. 1 place!

Diving Raja Ampat in January on the Panunee

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Hoyoung A
  • South Korea South Korea

Diving wasn't exactly easy, but manageable. The dive sites were really totally awesome!! Also liked how boat operators contacted one another to schedule their dives to ensure the dive site didn't get crowded.

Diving Raja Ampat in January on the Panunee

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Siddharth P
  • India India

Incredible. Enough cannot be said about the quality of these dive sites. So beautiful.

Diving Raja Ampat in January on the La Galigo

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Andre S
  • Australia Australia

Although the water was not as clear as I had thought, the ocean life was quite diverse and amazing. The soft coral was also great.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Manta Mae Liveaboard

  • 7.6 Good
  • malcolm C
  • Malta Malta

Very good. Beautiful reefs, coral looks healthy, lots of fish

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the La Galigo

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Nadine S
  • Germany Germany

5-star!!!! Overwhelming variety and number of fish Beautiful corals Diversified and challenging dives

Diving Raja Ampat in April on the Blue Manta

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Swee W
  • Malaysia Malaysia

Pristine. Reefs are healthy, unspoilt; not crowded. Seldom meet other dive groups.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Kira Kira Liveaboard

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Pavel P
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Excellent dive sites. For me the most interesting was a dive where I was able to see a lot of mantas. Water was so warm that I was able to swim without a wet suite.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Mermaid I

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Kristina V
  • Czech Republic Czech Republic

Excellent dive sites, full of fish, different species. Amazing for wide angle and macro photography.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Calico Jack

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Priti S
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Amazing, lots of clean ocean, undamaged coral, amazing sea life and lots of fishes and variety

Diving Raja Ampat in November on the Ambai Liveaboard

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • michaek M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

best place ever ,ive dived the Red sea,Great barrier reef, Mozambique,Belize and Galapagos etc etc THIS place is AMAZING

Diving Raja Ampat in November on the Pearl of Papua

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Yonah S
  • United States United States

Unmatched anywhere I've dove before. Just unreal.

Diving Raja Ampat in October on the Damai I

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Jill N
  • Ireland Ireland

Really great, loads of huge schools of fish, pretty coral, lots of big and small critters. Loads of wobbegongs which I have never seen before as well as walking sharks. Schools of bump heads, massive guys and lots of nudi's and crabs etc. My advice. Rather go in November onwards as the visibility is better and the mantas start coming through then. We saw two mantas, so they were starting to, but apparently Feb is the best month.

Diving Raja Ampat in October on the Raja Ampat Aggressor

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Daniel H
  • United States United States

Superb. Abundant and diverse marine life, ranging from huge schools of fish, to mantas and sharks, to blue ring octopus, pygmy sea horses, many types of nudibranches. Plus healthy and varied coral.

Diving Raja Ampat in June on the Damai I

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Shaun K
  • United States United States

My expectations were far exceeded. I commend the efforts on protecting the environment in raja ampat.

Diving Raja Ampat in May on the Pearl of Papua

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Andrew B
  • United States United States

Fantastic macro and mantas

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Mermaid I

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Iain M
  • Singapore Singapore

Diving at sites in the Dampier Strait was ok, though not quite as stunning as we might have expected - corals etc are certainly good, and plenty of small fish but not that many larger ones, and the vis wasn't spectacular by any means. Misool was much better, though the weather wasn't great so it was a bit gloomy despite the good vis.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Aurora Liveaboard

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Mark B
  • United States United States

Excellent. The variety of things to see makes every dive different and exciting. The reef is in excellent shape with lots of macro organisms and also has a lot of schooling fish with larger animals such as mantas, turtles, and a few sharks; we even saw a sailfish. Many of the dive sites have fairly strong currents and visibility was anywhere from good to terrible.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the La Galigo

  • 7.6 Good
  • Dan P
  • United States United States

Excellent diving particularly in the south. I think for the 8 day the dive trip they should plan to only do 1 day in the north .

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Mermaid II

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Joseph S
  • United States United States

Excellent. Reef and warers are pristine and beautiful

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Aurora Liveaboard

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Sinan M
  • United States United States

I have dived in many places before however never seen such a diverse marine life and really good dive sites.

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Ambai Liveaboard

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Linda M
  • United States United States

Enjoyed diving in Halmahera. So many amazing macro critters. Would do this again!

Diving Raja Ampat in September on the Sunshine Liveaboard

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • yvette K
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Good dives, lots to see and both wide angle and macro photographers happy

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Ambai Liveaboard

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Timothy G
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Amazing diversity and abundance of life.

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Aurora Liveaboard

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Roland M
  • Switzerland Switzerland

Great, very diverse environment

Diving Raja Ampat in December on the Aurora Liveaboard

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Takashi H
  • Japan Japan

Great! I want to go dive Raja Ampat again.

Diving Raja Ampat in August on the Raja Ampat Aggressor

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • wendy Y
  • United States United States

Out of this world. So many macro and micro animals.

Diving Raja Ampat in February on the Ambai Liveaboard

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Lee Ping S
  • Malaysia Malaysia

All the dive sites were amazing and different. Ample sea life's and pelagics. Coral gardens were breath taking.

Diving Raja Ampat in March on the Mermaid I