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Dive Review of Peter Hughes -- Paradise Dancer in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

December, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Mona Cousens, CA, United States
Contributor   (12 reports)
Report Number 5358
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
South Pacific, Australia, Caribbean, So. America, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy, dry  
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
80   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Just dont go into deco.    
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
The camera room is well thought out and has lots of private space for each
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
1 stars   
5 stars    
So far this has not been an easy trek.  We flew LA to Tokyo (10 hours) a
two hour layover,  a 7.5 hour flight from Tokyo to Singapore.  An eight
hour layover in SIN and a 1.5 hour flight to Jakarta.  Then an overnight in

 For the overnight in SIN, if you check your bags all the way through you
can stay at the transit hotel inside the terminal.  Because we picked up
our bags to re-check them on a different carrier in the AM we stayed at the
Crowne Plaza right outside baggage claim at the end of Terminal 3.  We
walked there.  Do not make a reservation online as the rate is half that
amount when you go to the reservation desk located in the arrival terminal
at Chiangi Airport.  They will call the hotel for you right then and you
pay them with a credit card.

On Garuda Indonesia from SIN to Jakarta for this 1.5 hour leg they charged
us 80.00 US for overweight baggage.  they wanted to charge us 160.00 USD
but we argued that their website gives an extension on overages if you are
carrying sporting equipment including scuba gear. This was worth the 7-8
minute delay at the check-in counter while the agent confirmed these
On our arrival in Jakarta, we stayed at the Sheraton Bandara.  This is a
five minute ride from the airport and cost 80.00 US ++ for one night.  If
you miss the shuttle just take a cab.  The taxi cost three US dollars to
the hotel.

In Jakarta we took a flight to Sorong and they charged us 105.00 USD for
our over weight bags. They gave us five dollars off for the sporting
equipment exclusion. They only accept rupiah so be careful with that.
One couple on our flight had the same problem with overweight bags but they
pulled open their wallet and said this is all the rupiah we have.  The
agent said OK and took just that amount.  It was far less than what we
paid.  (Live and learn).

On the Paradise Dancer I know you have all heard of the fabulous rooms and
they are just that, but the crew seemed somewhat unorganized when the cabin
I was to be in and had documented on my paperwork was given to another
single person traveling alone.  They gave us, a couple,  a smaller cabin in
the bow area.  They moved us when I produced my paperwork and all was done
without too much hassle but why not have that info in advance?  Taking a
poll,  I found one other couple who did not receive their pre-booked room. 
The boat staff DID know who was to be in the owners cabin at least.

So far the diving is not as stellar as I expected. We are diving near
Sorido Bay and  the reefs are not looking as pristine as I believed they
would be.  For the first two days of the trip,  with the exception of Manta
Sandy which was five stars all the way given the fact that we had mantas
for the whole entire dive, the diving has ranged from ho-hum to ok to
pretty good.
The pier near the pearl farm does have an excellent muck type dive as we
saw crocodile fish, wobbegong sharks, lots of lionfish, pipefish and myriad
other things.
The same pier at night produced the blue ring octopus and a walking shark.

We are now on day seven of a twelve day trip.  We are off of Misool Island.
 The diving the past two days has greatly improved as the reefs are quite
pristine with prolific hard and soft corals and the usual small creatures.
Sometimes the reefs are so colorful with bright orange or yellow soft
corals looking like a rainbow.
 What is missing are the fish.  There are no great schools and we have seen
two large fishing vessels, either Chinese or Japanese passing through the
protected lagoon here.
Our fish experience today was four bumpheads and one barracuda, the first I
have seen on this entire trip.  There were some good small fish schools
very shallow up on the reefs today but overall much lower than originally
The island topography is quite stunning and reminds me of the rock islands
of Palau only larger. We took one of the dive tenders and went around to
see the gorgeous coves surrounding the rock islands.  It is a nice way to
spend some surface time.

Our dive sites today were BOO and Black Magic Mountain.  BOO is where the
cover of the book on Raja Ampat was taken.   We are not having much luck
with viz. It is running between 40 to 80 feet with lots of backscatter.  
The corals and the walls here are quite stunning but the fish life is still
low.  We saw a school of barracuda having a total of 20-30 fish.  Dont get
me wrong,  the diving is far superior to most anything else going in the
world today.  Im just amazed that we have seen only one comet fish,  one
boxfish, maybe 10 moorish idols, etc.   All the usual subjects are here, 
just not many of each one.

Our next day took us to Daram Island.  This was our best diving so far as
we had fish on the reef and in larger numbers.  We had schools of batfish,
surgeon fish, anthias, etc.
The corals were excellent with bright colors, etc.  Everyone is happy on
Paradise Dancer.

Our last day we did a muck dive.  Ok,  so it is not Lembeh, but we still
saw mating cuttlefish, myriad nudibranchs, mantis shrimp, etc.   
On the second dive however, we saw an upsetting thing when we jumped in and
found a dozen small (about three feet long) white tip sharks dead on the
bottom.  We were told that they become snared in the local fishermans nets
and since the villagers do not like to eat them they just throw them in the
water. They used no part of any of those sharks.
Maybe this is why on the whole 12 day trip the whole boatload of divers saw
a total of approximately 6 sharks not counting the wobbegongs. 

Our departure from the boat was easy and the flight from Sorong to Manado
was easier on the budget as we only paid 35.00 USD for our over weight
bags.  Each city pair seems to have its own weight charges.   I do know
that each city charges a different departure tax rate.  This must be paid
in rupiah so it is good to know that in advance.

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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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