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Dive Review of Dive Damai in
Indonesia/Cenderawasih Bay

September, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by David E Reubush, VA, US
Top Contributor   (45 reports, with 8 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6704
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Caymans, Curacao, Galapagos, Indonesia
(Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Komodo), Philippines, Red Sea, Southern Bahamas, St.
Thomas, Turks & Caicos
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

rainy, cloudy  
Water Temp
84   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Don't do anything stupid  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Damai 1 has the 2nd largest camera room of any live-aboard I have ever been
on.  Sufficient room, even with everybody being photographers.  Individual
rinse tanks for everybody's cameras.  Crew very careful with camera gear. 
It doesn't get much better than this, even compared with shore-based
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
4 stars   
5 stars    
WHALE SHARKS!  I had the opportunity to dive with whale sharks a number of
years ago in the Galapagos and, when I read about the whale sharks of
Cenderawasih Bay in the dive press it attracted my attention.  So, when a
dive friend emailed to see if I was interested in a trip to Cenderawasih
Bay on the Damai 1 run by Tim Rock and Simon Pridmore, I said yes without
much further thought.  It was the right decision.  We spent 2 days in
Kwatisore Bay with the whale sharks.  The local fishermen feed the whale
sharks small fish from a platform in the bay so they stay in the vicinity
all the time.  When we got into the water the first time there were at
least half a dozen sharks within sight.  As the day progressed, should the
action slow down a little (less than 2 or 3 sharks close to the platform),
the fishermen would start feeding again and the sharks would return in
numbers.  We saw sharks that ranged from about 15 ft. to about 30 ft. and
most were adolescent males.  They are truly gentle giants as you could be
immediately in front of a shark madly snapping pictures as it swam toward
you and the shark would always miss you.  The only times I got bumped by a
shark (or sharks) was when I was right in the middle of a group of sharks
at the surface who were jostling for position as they were being fed.  It
was an amazing experience.  The dive operation made spending as much time
as you wanted with the sharks very easy.  The tenders ran back and forth
from the Damai to the platform area as needed.  The first day I got
something over 4 hours in the water with the sharks and the second day
something over 6 hours.  I will note that the visibility dropped from the
first dive to the end as the sharks eating added particulates to the water,
but photography wasn't terribly affected because you could get so close.  I
will also note that the delay in diving the first day was caused by an
extended negotiation that took place between the boat and the fishermen
over how much we were going to have to pay for the privilege of diving. 
From the scuttlebutt it seems that the fishermen have discovered what a
gold mine they have and are trying to milk it for all that they can get. 
In addition to the whale sharks Cenderawasih Bay has lots of other good
diving to recommend it.  We dove the wrecks of a Catalina flying boat, a
Zero fighter, and a Japanese patrol boat.  We dove slopes and walls with
lots of tropicals and with corals that ranged from beautiful coral gardens
to corals that were recovering from dynamite fishing.  At the one muck site
we visited I saw my first hairy frogfish and lots of other interesting muck
creatures, including a big Spanish Dancer on the night dive.  However, as a
general rule the night dives were just so-so except for the muck site and
Bupati Point on Biak where I had one of the top 5 night dives I have ever
made.  Tim and Simon ran a great trip and I will travel with them again. 
The Damai 1, while not quite as big as the Damai 2, is still the top of the
line in live-aboards.  The rooms are large, the salon and dining area
comfortable, the crew first class, and the food is actually better than
that on the Damai 2.  When I was first on the Damai 1 in 2009 cabins 1 and
2 had 2 king-size beds each and lots of wasted space.  These 2 cabins have
now been split into 4 single cabins, which are still bigger than double
cabins on most live-aboards.  This trip I was in what is now cabin 4 and
had tons of space, including a desk with power outlets to work at.  I'll
definitely be back on one or the other of the Damai boats in the future.   
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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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