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Dive Review of Amira in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat & Halmahera

Amira, Apr, 2012,

by Michael Bode, Braunschweig, DE (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6528.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Thailand, Red Sea, Mediterranean, Phillipines, PNG, Solomon Islands
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 28 to 29 Celsius Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 15 to 30 Meters

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive time 60 min. Could be extended. Usual depth limits when diving on air (40m) or NITROX (30m).
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales > 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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 There is a large, dry camera area below with lot of space for charging and changing your gear. There are two big water tanks on the dive deck for watering cameras only.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I joined the Amira on an exploratory trip from Sorong to Ternate (Halmahera). We were greeted at the airport by members of staff with a bottle of water for every one. Transfer to the boat was easy and fast. Due to problems with Sorong imigration we had to spend one day in Dampier Strait where we had three excellent dives - so we made the most of this day!

The day after we already arrived in Misool where we started with diving the Daram Islands. As Graham Abbott from Diving4Images had joined the trip as dive guide we had good briefings and excellent dives on colourful reefs and big schools of fish. The next days we slowly continued further west to Fiabacet and Pele and reached eventually Nampele Island with the Blue Water Mangroves. We were lucky: No saltwater crocodiles but excellent viz and many very good wide angle pictures.

Our next stop were the Pisang Islands in the Halmahera Sea. Situated in the middle of the Indonesian Throughflow we had very fishy dives in the current and some surge in the end of the dive. We saw many huge Napoleons, some reef sharks (grey/blacktip) and schooling fish.

From Pisang we continued further west to Obi Island with the aim of exploring some potential sites on the south-western edge of this huge island. The surveys we did and also the dives were disappointing. We only found two decent spots with average coral growth and some fish but most potential diving areas in the south and west seem to be destroyed by dynamite fishing. On our way north towards Halmahera we saw huge schools of pilot wales.

Our first dive close to Bacan Island was fantastic. We saw the biggest school of Barracudas I have ever seen. There were als schooling Jacks and some Napoleons Wrasses and blacktips cruising in the deep. Inside the bay, not too far away are some very good critter spots. We found a Rhinopias (R. eschmeyeri), Blue Ring Octopus, Ghostpipefish and other interesting stuff.

Further north we had some very good dives at the Goraici Islands. We found excellent hard coral and in the current colourful soft coral. We spent a whole day in Manta Bay searching for Mantas but saw only one. According to the locals there are sometimes hundreds of Mantas cruising in the bay. The bay itself has been heavily bombed in the past. All the flat reef tops are destroyed and there are only coral left on steep slopes and walls.

In the end we had some critter dives on the south-eastern side of Mapia Island. This was quite disappointing as we saw very few critters and nudis. Maybe water temperature was too high.

I chose the trip on board of Amira because it offered not just the usual Raja Ampat itinerary. This combination of excellent diving in Raja Ampat, open sea dives at the Pisang Islands and new or seldom visited dive sites on the west coast of Halmahera made the whole trip a lifetime experience.

Amira is a very huge boat. With a total length of 54 m she can accomodate up to 18 guests in twin and single a/c cabins with ensuite bathrooms. The cabins on the lower deck are a bit bigger, upper deck cabins have big windows and more light. There is a huge shaded area in the front and another smaller shaded area on the sun deck - our favourite place for a sundowner. There are enough deck chairs for relaxing between dives.
Behind the restaurant is a tv area with a huge flatscreen. The outside lounge in the back of the main deck is used for briefings and relaxing between dives.

Food was excellent and varied. There is a small breakfast before the first dive and a big breakfast after you can order before you go diving. Lunch is served buffet style in the restaurant and there is a three course meal in the evening.

The crew was very helpful and friendly. Escpecially the guys on the dive deck made a good job and always gave a hand when needed.
We went diving on three speedboats. With 19 guests on our trip some of the dive boats got quite full.

Tanks were always well filled up. European divers also can use DIN first stages. So they do not need to carry INT-Adaptors. There are also some 15l tanks available on request. NITROX is offered free of charge. There was one dive guide for a maximum of 5 divers. During most dives we were only four divers and our guide.

As mentioned before, this was a once in a lifetime trip. Bruno Hopf, the Skipper is from Switzerland and used to work on the Paisabatu before. Now he is co-owner of the Amira. He is always willing to try out new itineraries. So watch the schedule of Amira.
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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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