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July 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Raja Ampat; The Top Resorts and Liveaboards

possibly the best diving in the world?

from the July, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Raja Ampat, at the easternmost part of Indonesia, translates as "Four Kings." A small cluster of islands dotted around the western end of West Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya), they became the focus of attention of the world's diving community when ichthyologist Dr. Gerry Allen counted more than 283 different fish species on the Cape Kri dive site alone. In 2012 Dr. Allen again broke the world record count for most biodiverse reef on the planet, with 374 different species of reef fishes identified during a single dive.

Max Ammer, from Rotterdam, first set up an eco-resort dive in 1998 on Kri, an island at the center of a confluence of currents in the Dampier Strait and for years was the lone voice promoting the destination. In 2001 the Nature Conservancy and others decided that Raja Ampat was the site of the world's richest coral reefs.

Misool Island ResortThe diving isn't necessarily easy. Some of the currents are not only powerful, but can go both up and down. A reef hook is an essential piece of equipment for any diver at the better sites. U.S. forces bombed one such site, Mike's Point, during WWII because the little island produced such a wake in the current; it was thought to be a Japanese warship disguised and under way. The payoff is remarkable coral growth and spectacular amounts of marine life.

Many resorts have since been built on other islands, and Ammer has added the luxurious Sorido Bay Resort to Kri. Now, divers have many resorts and liveaboards for diving platforms, so the destination is on every diver's bucket list.

Let us, with the help of our readers, give you an indication of some of the best venues, so that you don't waste your hard earned time -- expect 24 hours of travel from the west coast of the U.S. -- and money, which will add up to thousands of dollars.

C. Leroy Anderson (Salt Lake City, UT) visited Sorido Bay Resort at the end of 2015, and reported, "Perfect coral and tons of colorful reef fish. Some unusual dive sites such as the Passage with abundant soft coral and extremely varied, abundant, and healthy coral and fish. Good shark and pelagic encounters. I have gone several times with different operators, including two liveaboard. Max and the staff stand out. The customer's agenda is their agenda. I asked to see a wobbegong shark, and they found five wobbegongs; the dive guides seemed eager and pleased to do so. The food was great and the lodging fine indeed." And Michael N. Hofman (San Francisco, CA) adds, "Dive sites about 20 minutes from Cape Kri, and just a tad longer to Manta Sandy, rides are easy in the dive boats, which are all equipped with sun protection, towels, and coffee and snacks." Subscriber Leoline Grower (London, UK) went to Kri this February, and said: "the food at Sorido Bay was excellent (apart from on Saturdays) considering how remote Kri is, with plenty of fresh fish and sashimi."...

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