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

October, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Rickie Sterne/Chrisanda Butto, AR, US
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 7 Helpful votes)
Report Number 6754
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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

sunny, windy, dry  
calm, choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
82   to    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
     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
     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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