Liveaboard Diving in Waigeo
What To Expect On A Waigeo Liveaboard
Waigeo liveaboards will usually visit here as part of a Raja Ampat itinerary. It is situated to the North of West Papua, Indonesia. The island is the largest in the famous Raja Ampat archipelago, renowned for its diverse flora and fauna both above and below the ocean. The region was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century and later studied by British explorer and naturalist Alfred Wallace, who studied some of the islands fauna in the 19th century. A wide selection of Indonesian liveaboard operate itineraries tthroughout Raja Ampat which will include Waigeo.
The island has a booming pearl farming trade in addition to being a popular tourist destination with a few resorts available for visitors. The pearl farms can be seen around the island and the one at Sele Pele is open to visits if they are booked in advance. This is a fascinating opportunity learn about the history of pearl fishing and to see how pearls are seeded and grown in farms nowadays. Waigeo is also home to the region’s capital Waisai which is a modest city with some basic tourist facilities. Other than Waisai the island is, like much of the Raja Ampat islands quite isolated and untouched.
Liveaboards to Waigeo offer a diverse range of dive sites, for a variety of different interests and levels of diving experience. The sites are normally around 25-30 meters deep with excellent visibility, sometimes up to 30 meters. The currents on the South-west end of the island are the most severe, and dive sites on this side are not really suitable to absolute beginners.
The diving is mostly on coral reefs, some with deeper areas and drop-offs where you can see some sharks. The main reason to take a dive cruise to Waigeo however, is the sheer number and variety of fish and critters you can find in every corner of the reefs here. There are lion fish hiding in small caverns, intricately coloured juvenile emperor angel fish can be found close to the corals along with napoleon wrasse and fusiliers.
Waigeo is also a top location in Raja Ampat, for diving with cephalopods. There are numerous different kinds on the reefs including, squid, blue ringed and red octopus and cuttlefish. There are also occasionally turtles at some of the dive sites in Waigeo which can be seen grazing on the reefs. Macro lovers won’t be disappointed either, with mantis shrimp and the stunning sea dragons to photograph.
Dive Sites of Waigeo
Liveaboards to Waigeo will visit numerous dive sites during the trip, some of which are oulined below;
Four Kings dive site is one of the most stunning sites. Named after the archipelago, this reef boasts some of the finest corals in the region. This place is a photographers dream, with a rainbow of colour, critters and reef fish galore. Bird wall to the North is also rich with fish life and the occasional green turtle too.
Sele Pele, and the jetty that is located near the pearl farm, are both critter heaven. There are frogfish, razor fish and cuttlefish and octopus to be found in these reefs. The advantage of these two sites is, that unlike much of this region the current and conditions are normally quite mild.
The Corner on the South-western side, offers up a more challenging dive with strong currents along the reef. The payoff is well worth the extra effort to stay on though, white and black tipped reef sharks are common here in deeper waters. If you keep a keen eye out on the bottom it is also possible to see the rare Wobbegong sharks resting on the slope.
Top Tips for Divers
- The currents in parts of Waigeo can be milder than other areas and so these might make a better dive for those with less experience.
- The water is warm but bear in mind that there are fire urchins and stone fish in this area so consider covering you skin.
- Waigeo town has more facilities than most of the Raja Ampat islands, but this is a frontier destination so make sure you bring lots of spares of anything you need with you.
Getting to Waigeo
To reach Waigeo visitors must first reach West Papua, where the closest airport to the Raja Ampat islands is located. The airport of Sorong has flights from Jakarta and Singapore but not international flights. From Sorong there are two types of boats to Waigeo, the faster hydrofoil and the slower ferry boat which takes around two hours.
The most popular way for divers to reach this region however is a Indonesian diving liveaboard which normally depart from Sorong. Due to the isolated nature of the sites the majority of diving in Raja Ampat is done from dive cruises. There are various kinds of boats, to suit all budgets and tastes. There are customised motor vessels which offer comfort and top diving facilities. The most popular however are the Indonesian sailing boats, called phinisi, which offer a luxurious and traditional experience.
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