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Dive Review of Ambai in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Ambai : "Raja Ampat", Jan, 2016,

by Lisa Evans, CO, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 21 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 9156 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was a discounted trip through Bluewater Travel on the Ambai. The boat was very nice and quite comfortable. It had a nice dive deck and it was easy to get on/off tenders. The staff very helpful – everyone helped with the dive prep/loading. The tender drivers were great. My favorite was Amsar, who was a bit of a prankster – lots of smiles.

The food was fine – too much fried stuff for me, but great
variety and lots of fresh vegetables. They served too much fish – it’s a bit creepy for me to eat fish while diving (or most any time these days…) I asked the cruise director how they could know that the fish was legally taken, and he said they couldn’t – they buy it at the market in Sorong or trade the locals for things like oil/gas. Locals are allowed subsistence fishing.

The cabins were comfortable – pretty big and nice to have a bathroom with a separate shower. The bottom bunks were wide with comfy beds. Unfortunately, our AC went out the 3rd day, so I slept on deck – which was actually quite comfortable, other than the fact that I couldn’t go to bed/get up when I wanted – I had to wait
for things to quiet down (about 10pm), and they pulled the anchor often at 5am, which was very close and quite loud. Thanks to the travel agent, I got a partial refund for the inconvenience.

Diving:
This was my second trip to Raja Ampat. On this trip, I'd have to say that generally the visibility was poor – many dives 5-10 m and many dives 10-15 m. The cruise director said it was just the way it was sometimes. I remembered that in 2011 it was clear in the morning and more soupy in the afternoon. We all accepted his explanation (sometimes it’s just that way) until we met some folks in the Makassar airport who had been on another boat (which we saw a few times along the trip.) They said they had 80 foot viz – really good. Hard to know if they were overestimating the viz on their trip, but on our dives it was really soupy a lot of the time.

Dive guides – two were really good and two were not so great. The two long-time (over 1 year) guides were really good at putting you in the right place on a dive site, checking current, finding
stuff and were really personable. The contract person was really good at finding things, esp muck and night dives, but not so good at putting you at the right place on a site (example – last dive, Kri Point, we spent 50 minutes on an okay wall, then went up to the top of the point in 30 feet of water to an AMAZING area with tons of healthy coral, huge schools of fish everywhere you looked, a turtle, a shark, etc etc. We got 15 minutes there.) The new guy wasn’t good at putting you in the right place, plus didn’t do much – point out stuff in the blue, maybe, but a lot of the time he just hung in the water. We stayed in the same dive groups and rotated guides every day.

At the beginning of the trip they did some dives without briefing (or with the guides not at the briefings) and without checking current - one early dive we had to swim against the current the entire dive. They said one wall we swam along was great soft corals, and yeah, it was, but the guides were deeper than the briefing (70 feet instead of above 60) so it was sort of dark… plus you had to swim hard and couldn’t stop to look at anything or you’d go down current. We eventually got to the split, where lots was happening - but it would have been better to be dropped there. After I said something to the Cruise Director the guides went to the briefings, though I think it was held against me somewhat.

That said, RA is fabulous for large schools of fish, cool critters like ornate ghost pipefish, and all sorts of other stuff. Although it was sometimes hard to see the big schools – outlines instead of colors, we still saw lots of fish. Muck dives were fabulous as well. The manta dive was a bust.

One thing that was a bit weird - we found out a couple days in that all the divers were getting nitrox, whether they asked for/paid for it or not. It seems to me that it would be important to tell divers this - not that we were going deep, but if you are not nitrox certified, you should at least get a briefing before you dive (unknowingly) with nitrox. I'm not sure why this was the case, but as a nitrox diver it didn't directly affect me.

The land trips were nice – up to a viewpoint, to a cave (undersold – it was really cool!) and to the village of Arborek - if you go to this village, take a little cash to put in the donation box on the pier.
Websites Ambai   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving GBR, Philippines x 5, Raja Ampat, Komodo, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Lembeh, Caribbean, Bali, Palau, Yap, etc
Closest Airport Sorong Getting There via Makassar, middle of the night flight on Garuda

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 79-84°F / 26-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20-60 Ft/ 6-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Stayed with guide. 60 minutes max
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Dedicated rinse tanks on the boat, though had to ask them to change the water a couple times. Excellent camera room - very well outfitted.
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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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