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Dive Review of Dive Damai in
Indonesia/Cenderawasih Bay

Dive Damai, Jul, 2012,

by Michael Emerson, MN, US (Contributor Contributor 13 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6603.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Most major dive destinaitons
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 85 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 60 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Sometimes 1 hour if our schedule required that we move to the next site.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Boat was built for serious photographers. It just doesn't get any better than this.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments In late June of 2012, my college daughter and I journeyed to the West Papuan airport of Nabire and began an 11-night itinerary about the Damai 2. Having already spent a similar length on board the original Damai, we both had very high expectations.

The boat is enormous and very comfortable, even bigger than the original. My daughter and I each had a single cabin that was probably twice the size of our shared cabin on our last live aboard. No fights over who was too messy for the other. The bathrooms in each cabin were also very nice with plenty of hot water, although the three teens on board did tax the ability of the boat to generate fresh water. Made me feel all the more like home. Every day our laundry was done, ironed, and arranged on my bed at end of day. Again, just like homeoh dear, I must be suffering from a wild dream.

We did lose a day leaving Nabire because of some social unrest there. Apparently a motorcycle accident involving a driver from a nearby village of a different religion set off local mayhem. We dove some local mediocre dive sites, but then cleared with diesel tanks full for the long cruise ahead.

Of course, the Cenderawasih Bay is known to divers for whale shark encounters. The promise was fulfilled with a 25 and 15 foot pair of sharks. We spent a full day swimming with and feeding these giant animals in crystal clear water. It just may have been the single best day of diving that I have had anywhere. Having a 25-foot beast motor right over your shoulder blows away any manta dive. Also, watching something of that size stand up vertically to be fed by the fishermen is hard to describe as well. If you suspend scale for just a minute, it looked like a poodle standing on hind legs asking for food.

We then motored onto Manokwari and beyond for our next big encounternesting leatherbacks. Again, we were successful in seeing one of these giant animals laying her eggs right in front of us. To see a creature that has survived as a species since the days of the tyrex was also amazing. Only a few hundred people (mostly Papuan villagers) see this sight each year and we knew that it was a special moment. After covering her nest of 100 eggs with a layer of compacted sand, the young 800-pound mother flapped her way back to the ocean to head to the coast of California to forage on jellyfish. Incredible.

Finally, we made our way to the heart of Raja Ampat and spent 3.5 days diving some of the best dive sites in the Kri area. We saw a nice manta and pretty much a little bit of everything in what is the best reef diving in the world. Of course we saw multiple species of pygmy seahorses including 5 on one fan.

The trip was great, but not without cautions. The flight into Nabire is grueling and apparently may be unreliable. The trip required that we cover some long distances between dives which made for some bumpy overnight crossings. We also spent a couple of days without much diving, so do come prepared for filling some blocks of time. If you like 10 days of 5 a day diving, you may want to look elsewhere. Bring someone with that you can talk with and be happy doing it!

I was also plagued by the threat of a tooth that ached and threatened to go super nova at any point. Knowing that you are 15 hours by boat from the nearest third world country airport and then two or three flights to the nearest western care facility was nerve racking. But fortunately, I made it without a crisis. I will spare you some of the visual imagery that I conjured up about an urgent visit to a Papuan dentist. This may well be one of the more remote dive locations in the world. Make sure you have your body in a 100% state of readiness before you come here.

I will also warn any tall person about a domestic flight on Lion Air. Unless you are similar in size to a 54 Indonesian, you will be miserable in coach. They must have the shortest leg-room of any airline, stadium, or auditorium on the planet. Check on the price of a first class seat and you will be rewarded with a tad bit of comfort. Also consider Garuda whenever possible. Otherwise, grin and bear it and count it as a part of the price of getting to the best diving in the world.
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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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