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Dive Review of Dive Damai in
Indonesia/Cenderawasih Bay

Dive Damai, Sep, 2012,

by David E Reubush, VA, US (Top Contributor Top Contributor 47 reports with 14 Helpful votes). Report 6704.

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

Weather rainy, cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 84 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 30 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Don't do anything stupid
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments 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 operations.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments 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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