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Dive Review of Dive Damai in
Indonesia/Cenderawasih Bay

July, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Michael Emerson, MN, US
Contributor   (13 reports)
Report Number 6603
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Most major dive destinaitons
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
85   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Sometimes 1 hour if our schedule required that we move to the next site.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Boat was built for serious photographers.  It just doesn't get any better
than this.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
5 stars    
In late June of 2012, my college daughter and I journeyed to the West
Papuan airport of Nabire and began an 11-night itinerary about the Damai 2.
 Having already spent a similar length on board the original Damai, we both
had very high expectations.  

The boat is enormous and very comfortable, even bigger than the original. 
My daughter and I each had a single cabin that was probably twice the size
of our shared cabin on our last live aboard.  No fights over who was too
messy for the other.   The bathrooms in each cabin were also very nice with
plenty of hot water, although the three teens on board did tax the ability
of the boat to generate fresh water.  Made me feel all the more like home. 
Every day our laundry was done, ironed, and arranged on my bed at end of
day.  Again, just like homeoh dear, I must be suffering from a wild

We did lose a day leaving Nabire because of some social unrest there. 
Apparently a motorcycle accident involving a driver from a nearby village
of a different religion set off local mayhem.  We dove some local mediocre
dive sites, but then cleared with diesel tanks full for the long cruise

Of course, the Cenderawasih Bay is known to divers for whale shark
encounters.  The promise was fulfilled with a 25 and 15 foot pair of
sharks.  We spent a full day swimming with and feeding these giant animals
in crystal clear water.  It just may have been the single best day of
diving that I have had anywhere.  Having a 25-foot beast motor right over
your shoulder blows away any manta dive.  Also, watching something of that
size stand up vertically to be fed by the fishermen is hard to describe
as well.  If you suspend scale for just a minute, it looked like a poodle
standing on hind legs asking for food.

We then motored onto Manokwari and beyond for our next big
encounternesting leatherbacks.   Again, we were successful in seeing one
of these giant animals laying her eggs right in front of us.  To see a
creature that has survived as a species since the days of the tyrex was
also amazing.  Only a few hundred people (mostly Papuan villagers) see this
sight each year and we knew that it was a special moment.  After covering
her nest of 100 eggs with a layer of compacted sand, the young 800-pound
mother flapped her way back to the ocean to head to the coast of California
to forage on jellyfish.  Incredible.

Finally, we made our way to the heart of Raja Ampat and spent 3.5 days
diving some of the best dive sites in the Kri area.  We saw a nice manta
and pretty much a little bit of everything in what is the best reef diving
in the world.  Of course we saw multiple species of pygmy seahorses
including 5 on one fan.

The trip was great, but not without cautions.  The flight into Nabire is
grueling and apparently may be unreliable.  The trip required that we cover
some long distances between dives which made for some bumpy overnight
crossings.  We also spent a couple of days without much diving, so do come
prepared for filling some blocks of time.  If you like 10 days of 5 a day
diving, you may want to look elsewhere.  Bring someone with that you can
talk with and be happy doing it!

I was also plagued by the threat of a tooth that ached and threatened to go
super nova at any point.  Knowing that you are 15 hours by boat from the
nearest third world country airport and then two or three flights to the
nearest western care facility was nerve racking.  But fortunately, I made
it without a crisis.  I will spare you some of the visual imagery that I
conjured up about an urgent visit to a Papuan dentist.  This may well be
one of the more remote dive locations in the world.  Make sure you have
your body in a 100% state of readiness before you come here.

I will also warn any tall person about a domestic flight on Lion Air. 
Unless you are similar in size to a 54 Indonesian, you will be miserable
in coach.  They must have the shortest leg-room of any airline, stadium, or
auditorium on the planet.  Check on the price of a first class seat and you
will be rewarded with a tad bit of comfort. Also consider Garuda whenever
possible.   Otherwise, grin and bear it and count it as a part of the price
of getting to the best diving in the world.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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