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Dive Review of Kararu Dive Voyages/Sea Safari VII in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

May, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by David E Reubush, VA, US
Top Contributor   (45 reports, with 8 Helpful votes)
Report Number 5565
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Australia, Belize, Bimini, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Curacao,
Dominica, Galapagos, Indonesia, Red Sea, Roatan, Turks & Caicos, Virgin
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
85   to 87    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Don't do anything stupid.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or  
Whale Sharks
1 or 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
On the plus side there was a large rinse tank on boat dedicated to cameras
and there were plenty of places to recharge batteries.  On the minus side
the "camera table" was a shelf outside the main deck cabins. 
Also, this appeared to be one of the first times the crew had dealt with
photographers.  It took a couple of days for them to handle the cameras as
carefully as they should have.  I ended up with a big gouge in my flat port
as a result of mis-handling early in the trip.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
This was my 3rd trip to Indonesia, but first to Raja Ampat.  After reading
Burt & Maurine's guide I was anxious to see the area for myself and I
was not disappointed.  It was definitely worth the hassle of getting there.
 The reefs were healthy, there were lots of fish and other creatures, and
the water was generally clear and warm.  As opposed to the Red Sea where
all the dive sites are crowded we only shared a dive area with another boat
for one morning of the whole trip.  The rest of the time we were all by
ourselves.  There were numerous varieties of pygmy seahorses on just about
every dive.  In the process of reviewing my photos I found shots of a pygmy
with the reverse color combination of the typical whitish body with red
spots.  I could not locate an identification in either my reference books
or on-line.  I emailed Burt & Maurine and Maurine responded that it had
been seen before, but had not yet been identified as a new species or just
a color variation of a known species.  I also have shots of a couple of
nudibranchs/flat worms that I can't find an identification for.  We also
saw a blue-ring octopus and a flamboyant cuttlefish among the other wild
and wonderful creatures.  As a fan of strange and interesting creatures my
favorite dives were those we did at the pearl farm.  It was amazing what
all we saw, including a pair of pipefish that must have been more than 2
feet long.  When diving remote areas like Raja Ampat you just don't know
what you're going to find.  I will also complement Nyoman and Bawa, the
Indonesian dive masters, as they were especially good at finding stuff and
coming to get you to show it to you.   Other than showing stuff to you,
once they saw that you were an experienced diver (as all on the trip were),
they pretty much let you dive your own profile.  As far as large pelagics
are concerned, while we did see a number of wobbegongs and epaulette sharks
we only briefly saw a couple of other sharks and saw mantas on only one
dive.  I will also note here that the currents were generally minimal, but
a couple of sites we saw currents that were just ripping so I would not
recommend the trip for beginners.
As to the boat itself, the Sea Safari VII was a last minute replacement for
the Sea Horse, which was the boat that I had originally booked and this
last minute change is most probably the reason for the few issues I had. 
The Sea Safari VII is a large boat with 4 cabins on the main deck and 9 on
the lower deck.  Kararu is dedicating 6 of the lower deck cabins to
singles.  I had one of these cabins and it was as large as a typical twin
cabin on most of the other live-aboards I have been on.  The air
conditioning and everything else in the cabin worked fine the whole trip. 
The food was my major complaint.  The cook was used to having Chinese and
Indonesian passengers and knew how to cook for them, but not so well for
Westerners.  Pete and Kristine, the ex-pat cruise directors/dive masters,
went food shopping in Sorong after the first Kararu trip on the Sea Safari
VII (mine was the 2nd) and I was told the food was better on our trip than
the first, but it still wasn't great.  I do have hopes that the food will
improve as the cook gets more experience and I do plan on returning in the
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