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Dive Review of Komodo Alor Dive/Raja Ampat Explorer in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

May, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Alan G Miller, NC, USA (1 report)
Report Number 5514
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Australia, Coral Sea, Caymans, Cabo, Grenada, Panama, Hawaii, Bahamas,
Turks and Caicos, USVI, BVI, Puerto Rico, Saba, St Kits
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
85   to 86    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
No strict enforcement, but divemasters dove each dive after briefing, and
expected guests to do 3 min safety stop and return with reasonable amounts
of air in tanks.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Large dive area camera table. Large indoor recharging table with many
outlets and converters. 2 Dedicated camera buckets. Excellent crew handling
of cameras, I showed them once and after that they all picked it up that
way. Lots of really small critters so it's Macro photographer's paradise,
but with better vis it would be a wide angle dream too.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
3 stars   
5 stars    
Have done about 25 liveaboards across the world over the last 20 years, and
this was the best.  The dive operators arranged domestic travel and all
local transport, which was very tricky, from Jakarta to Sarong, where we
embarked, and also arranged overnight hotels in Jakarta at the beginning
and end of the trip.  Dive and hotel representatives met us at each airport
and made sure language and customs were not problems.  The boat is
tremendous -- holds 14 guests at maximum, but we only had 8 on our trip,
with one non-diver. There are double bed accommodations, but most rooms
were two single beds, all with ensuite toilet and showers. Large salon with
identification books, library, cold and hot drinks with beer and soda on an
honor system reconciled at the end of the trip.  A nice sundeck was above
the salon, and was partially covered for reading and decreasing the sun
exposure. Excellent dive deck with individual positions with small and
large baskets for gear.  Typical liveaboard with placing gear on the tank
at one station, and crew refilling when back from dives, without moving
gear. Most dives were done from a zodiac, with divers walking down short
ladder with gear, getting in and donning fins, doing simultaneous back roll
into the water along with divemasters to start dives.  All dive sites were
well-briefed with dry board drawings and full expectations of depth,
currents, and plan of how to navigate the site. The zodiac drivers waited
for the divers near the end points of the planned dives, but were more than
happy to take divers who had problems early back to the boat. Excellent
schedule of dives at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 6:30pm for the night dive. 
Breakfast served after the first dive, but tea and toast could be had
before the 7am dive. Incredible food, with lots of local seafood served at
every meal.  Excellent blend of Indonesian, Thai, Indian, and American
food, served buffet style.  We also had an avid fisherman on board who
snagged tuna and mackerel for sushi, which the chef was more than happy to
serve up. Snorkeling and land trips were encouraged between dives, and
fishing could be done if rods and reels were brought. Snorkeling was
available at many locations. At one point we stopped at a land-based dive
resort owned by the boat operators, and enjoyed a birthday party complete
with Indonesian singing by the crew.  The diving was beyond our wildest
dreams -- the reefs were lush, teaming with fish, and overrun with healthy
soft and hard corals, crinoids, tunicates, and critters.  If you love
nudibranchs, you HAVE to come here -- we saw at least 4 different ones on
each dive, and probably 50-75 different ones over our 11 days on the boat.
Schooling fish, mantas, turtles, morays, wobbegones, starfish, smashing
mantis shrimp, pygmy sea horses, clingfish, and crabs were abundant. The
number of different types of angelfish, butterfly fish, pipefish, etc., was
amazing -- never just one kind, but multiples at each turn.  The soft and
hard corals are thriving and large.  We had limited (50-75') visibility,
but the crew told us that many of the wall sites were often cruised by
pelagics, and visibility varied by weather and months -- one guest who had
done several trips with this operator said that Nov-Jan had better
visibility.  Night dives yielded blue ring octopus, squid, cuttlefish,
octopus, and active crinoids. The anemones and their fish were glorious in
the varieties and colors. Blue ribbon eels and juveniles of batfish, yellow
boxfish, and sweetlips kept things interesting. The divemasters were very
good at finding things if they knew what you were interested in seeing, or
would just be there in case there were problems, like when down currents
caught divers.  There were mild to moderate currents on most dives, so this
was not some place for novice divers to be.  I had a titan trigger fish
defend his nest and ram me while biting, taking a chunk out of the back of
my head (and ending my diving for the trip). The crew were more than
helpful in mobilizing and helping me take care of the injury, with some
help from a doctor guest.  We were miles from "civilization" so
injuries have to be taken care of via first aid.  A full oxygen tank is
available.  The only problem we had with the trip were the bugs on board. 
In the tropics on the equator, it is just impossible to get rid of them
all.  But we did get a few bites overnight in our rooms. We were lucky in
that two of the guests knew several of the Indonesian dialects, and were
able to communicate well with the crew. Most of the crew had a reasonable
command of English, but one or two did most of the communicating with
English-speaking guests.  We had Europeans on board as well, so the trip
was very international. The diving was outstanding, and we would return in
a minute.  The only other recommendation is to fly Business Class, and on
Singapore Airlines if possible -- the trip from NC was very long, and we
needed the 3 days to get there and get adjusted to time zones coming and
going.  We would recommend taking a long (11-14 day trip) diving, as
otherwise all the long travel seems too hard compared to the diving
rewards.  After years of liveaboards with many different companies, this
one is highly recommended for experienced divers who want to see lots of
different sea creatures and lush, living reefs. It is a macro
photographer's paradise, but with so many large beautiful fish and corals
that any photograph captured multiple creatures. 
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