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Dive Review of Grand Komodo -- Putri Papua in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Grand Komodo -- Putri Papua, Oct, 2012,

by Rickie Sterne/Chrisanda Butto, AR, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 6754.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bay Islands, Belize, Bonaire, Caymans, Cozumel, Turks&Caicos, Sea of Cortez, Australia, Fiji, Truk, Yap, Palau, other areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 82 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions We were encouraged to dive safely and conservatively since the Raja Ampat is an isolated destination. We were always in the water with a dive guide, but the guides were not tightly controlling.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments While the camera table is not large, there was room for all five cameras on board. There were plenty of charging stations for the various electronics divers brought with them as well as batteries for cameras, strobes, and dive torches. The crew handled our cameras very carefully. They quickly learned who owned which camera and knew by the second night that Rickie does not carry his camera on night dives.

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

Accommodations 4 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 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We learned of the existence of the Raja Ampat islands from a report published in Undercurrent in September, 2003. The subtitle of that report was "Is this the world's best diving?" For us, the answer is probably yes. Of course, if you want to see schooling sharks, you will be happier in the Cocos Islands or the Galapagos. However, if your idea of great diving is defined by beautiful reefs with dense cover of healthy hard corals brightened by stands of colorful dendronephyta and lush black coral with large schools and aggregations of mid-sized tropical fish swimming up and down, clouds of anthias, chromis, and damsels at the top, a sprinkling of interesting individual fishes and invertebrates, mantas,and, yes, dozens of white tip and black tip sharks cruising past in singles and groups of two to three, head for the Raja Ampat area.
Our trip aboard the Putri Papua began happily when we were met at the airport in Sorong by Weka, Grand Komodo's senior dive guide, whom we knew from previous dive trips. Although Weka usually works on the Raja Ampat Explorer, he was serving as relief guide on the Putri Papua for our ten-day trip. We met our four dive companions, two other Americans and two Indonesians. They had already made a check-out dive before our late flight arrived.
We unpacked in our comfortable, double-bedded cabin, stowing our bags under the slightly elevated bed. We used the single berth for storage of stuff we wanted ready to hand. We discovered that evening in our ensuite bathroom that either we are getting tougher or the showers are getting warmer. Back on the dive deck, the crew helped set up our gear in dive stations with storage under the bench in two baskets. And that was the last time we handled our gear until we repacked it at trip's end after the crew had washed it for us.
We repaired to the salon, comfortably cooled by fans and ocean breezes, for the boat briefing and our first delicious meal. Jeffrey, the boat's new cook from Sulawesi, has definitely improved the quality of the food. Meals were tasty Indonesian dishes of considerable variety. Dinners always began with fresh, homemade soups, so warming after a long night dive. Main courses included fish and chicken or beef with plenty of fresh veggies and always rice. At lunch we were often served salads as well. Desserts were usually delicious fresh tropical fruit. Breakfasts began with fresh fruit smoothies every day. Rickie said that Jeffrey prepared eggs as close to sunny side up as he has ever found outside the US. The eggs served to top nasi goreng and mie goreng. We also ate Indonesian pancakes with bananas or pineapple and french toast. Afternoon snacks included fresh-baked cakes, fried bananas, and jaffle sandwiches. Made, the steward, seemed constantly surprised at the frequency with which American divers can consume a pot of coffee, but he kept us in our favorite fresh-brewed beverage all day.
While we do enjoy eating, we had actually come to dive. The dive day on the Putri Papua began with the first dive before breakfast (we had all had coffee,fruit, and toast as pre-breakfast), the second dive after an hour and a half's interval and full breakfast, followed by lunch and our longest surface interval (time to read or nap on the sun deck), third dive followed by snack and another surface interval, and then the night dive, dinner, and deep sleep. The six divers dove in two groups, each with its own dive guide. After Weka's briefing, we donned our gear and stepped into the dinghy with the assistance of crew members offering us steadying hands. We made backrolls at the sites and dove for 60 to eighty minutes. Most of the sites were seamounts with moderate to strong currents bringing in lots of fish. The beauty of the corals and gorgonians themselves would have made the diving worth the trip, but we quickly grew accustomed to streams of fusiliers, unicornfish, surgeonfish, triggerfish, and sweetlips. Swirls of jacks let us swim quite near and schools of batfish actually followed us along the reefs. Large schools of yellowtail barracuda were also sighted frequently. Some of the prettiest species of butterflyfish abounded, and we saw most of the angelfish in our ID books. At Chicken Reef, we encountered a group of more than 25 very large bumphead parrotfish. At Eagle Rock, 5 mantas swam slowly over us. We saw woebegong sharks lying around the reef on most of our dives. More surprisingly, blacktip and a few whitetip sharks cruised past on many dives. We also saw half a dozen turtles. Our dive guides pointed out plenty of pygmy seahorses, H. bargibanti, denise, and ponthoi. We encountered several octopus out and about during the day. At least one octopus was as interested in us as we were in him. Rickie and Mike literally spent twenty minutes of a dive with that octopus at Melissa's Garden. I swam off to admire several nudis, flatworms, and a ribbon eel, and swam back to them and their cephalopod occasionally. Night diving was much better than we remembered its having been on an earlier trip to Raja Ampat. We dove the the wreck of the P47D airplane at the request of a diver who is a World War II buff. When we came home, we told several dive buddies that it would be easier for us to catalogue what we did not see on this trip rather than what we did see.
We enjoyed several extra, non-diving activities. When we crossed the equator, Captain Robert called us to the bridge. He manipulated the boat until his electronic compass showed only zeroes. We had stood on the equator! We made a dinghy tour of Fam lagoon to admire the lovely mushroom islands and strolled along an isolated beach. We were offered the opportunity to climb M. Pindito and to take "the" photograph, then enjoyed another dinghy tour of Wayag lagoon. We saw three species of wild orchids blooming and several beautiful birds.
As one of our Indonesian dive companions said, "I think this crew works very hard, even those we do not see." The crew were kind and attentive. They helped us gear up and kept our water bottles on the dive deck filled. The dinghy driver lifted our gear into the dinghy before we climbed back in unencumbered. The crew moved our gear back to our dive stations. Our tanks were promptly filled to 2800+. Our cabins were kept clean, and the steward picked up after us in the salon. He quickly refilled our water glasses during meals. Ash trays disappeared from the sundeck as soon as the crew realized that none of us smoked. The engineer made several repairs to one diver's gear. We began to fear that Jeffrey had actually been shackled into the galley, since we never saw him. The dive guides conducted night dives daily, even when we were the only divers who wanted to go. Grand Komodo's boats are comfortable liveaboards, not "floating hotels" with thousand square foot cabins. However, the considerate service provided by Grand Komodo's crews and the skill of their dive guides makes us feel that we have enjoyed a luxury diving experience.
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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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