Liveaboard Diving in Salawati

What To Expect on a Salawati Liveaboard

Salawati liveaboards will visit one of the four main islands in the Raja Ampat in islands in Papua, Indonesia. Salawati is the closest of the islands to the West Papua region of New Guinea with only the small Sele Strait between them. Most liveaboards in Salawati will first stop at Sorong city on the West Papua coast before taking the boat to Salawati. The island is included in the Raja Ampat Marine Park which provides patrols and conservation projects to protect the unique marine ecosystem of the island.

Despite its proximity to the main city, Salawati is one of the quieter of the main islands making it perfect for liveaboard diving. It was subject to a lot of military activity during the second world war and there are the remains of Japanese bunkers for interested tourists to visit. There are also numerous rare species of bird in the rainforest on Salawati and you might even catch a glimpse of the stunning king bird of paradise. There are rare creatures underwater as well such as the island’s iconic rainbow fish which can be seen in the bays and reefs.

Salawati Underwater

Liveaboard diving in Salawati is slightly different to other areas of the Raja Ampat islands. The island has more muck diving than reef and big animals. Many people come to the island however just to dive or snorkel with the rainbow fish. This beautiful little fish has a body striped with rainbow colours and can be found all over the island.

Salawati is very close to Batanta island and on this side there are some dive sites in the Pitt or Sagewin Strait which is a marine protected area for cetaceans. Here the currents are phenomenal and the weather conditions can be perilous. Previously this area was avoided by many liveaboards due to the difficulties in navigating here.

However, many more dive cruises are now visiting for the fantastic muck diving here. The dark sand patches can seem a little strange at first after visiting the huge reefs around the rest of the Four Kings. These areas are full of critters though and the black sandy slopes which are home to frogfish, cuttlefish and blue ringed octopus make for some fantastic macro shots, making a Salawati itinerary aboard a luxury liveaboard a must for any diver.

Dive Sites of Salawati

Close to Salawati island there are some minor dive sites where you can see the rainbow fish but these are mostly shallow and in small bays or beaches. The Sagewin strait is home to several great muck diving sites, such as Sagewin Island and Black Beauty on the coast of Batanta island. These are great places for macro photography with critters popping up from all sides making sailing in Salawati extremely interesting.

Nearby and included in the same cetacean protected area, is the Dampier Strait. This strait has several dive sites such as Manta Sandy home to some Raja Ampat island’s best manta encounters. There are also several beautiful reefs, thick with fish life such as sardine reef which is home to some breath-taking shoals.

Top Tips for Divers

  • The conditions around Salawati can be a bit rougher than other parts of the Raja Ampat islands so sea sickness pills might be wise.
  • The sand around the Batanta side is black unlike most of the Raja Ampat islands so photographers should bear this in mind.

Getting to Salawati

Diving in this area is currently only available from an Indonesian diving liveaboard. Salawati is in the fortunate position of being the closest island to Sorong, the port of departure for liveaboards to the Raja Ampat islands. There are a number of different kinds of diving liveaboards available from Sorong so there is something to suit all budgets and tastes, from low budget liveaboard to luxury dive yacht. Motor yachts with custom designed dive decks and luxury accommodation offer a comfortable and efficient stay. There are also traditional Indonesian sailing boats which make for a peaceful and authentic Indonesian dive cruise.

Reaching the point of departure at Sorong is easy if a little time consuming. There are no direct international flights to Sorong airport and visitors must fly from Jakarta or Singapore to Manado and then on to Sorong from there.

Salawati Diving Reviews

  • 9.3 Superb
  • 3 Verified Reviews
  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Carolyn M
  • Australia Australia

Huge schools of fish circling are just amazing. When you look into the distance it seems they are on a highway all coming to see you.

Diving Salawati in October on the Mutiara Laut

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Cihan B
  • Germany Germany

Strong current and the best dives around

Diving Salawati in November on the Mari