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Dive Review of Gannga Divers/Papua Paradise in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Gannga Divers/Papua Paradise: "Fabulous diving in Raja Ampat", Nov, 2019,

by Graham McGregor, Kilmacolm, GB (Top Contributor Top Contributor 39 reports with 22 Helpful votes). Report 11208 has 2 Helpful votes.

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

Accommodations 4 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 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was the first time I have repeated the same dive destination back to back (was there roughly same time in 2018). Raja Ampat diving is that good!

Getting there and away

It is a long haul to Papua Paradise Resort – no matter where you are coming from. You need to get to Sorong airport. There are direct flights from Jakarta, but only a couple a day (and they seem to all leave Jakarta at around midnight, getting in to Sorong around 0630). You can also connect via Makassar but most visitors are from Europe and the USA, making Jakarta the most convenient international airport for connectivity. I found Jakarta surprisingly easy to connect through. Most international flights arrive into Terminal 3, which is a nice, modern terminal. Garuda's domestic flights depart from Terminal 3 too, which made the outbound connection easy. Other domestic flights arrive/depart from Terminal 1 or 2. However, moving between terminals is quick and easy as a Skytrain connects all terminals. We allowed 8 hours for our connection outbound and 5 hours inbound. 3 hours would probably have been fine.

Papua Paradise appears to be the only resort in Central Raja Ampat which has a dedicated transfer boat from Sorong. Other resorts appear to require you to get a local ferry.

A representative of the resort meets you at Sorong airport and you are transferred to a local hotel, which is perfectly good. We arrived at the hotel at 0700 and a complimentary breakfast, complimentary lunch were included and the use of the hotel facilities. We booked a day room to catch up on some sleep until we were picked up at 1230 for our 1300 transfer by fast boat to the resort. The transfer takes 1 and a half hours. On the return we were taken to the same hotel to wait for our transfer to the airport. Again complimentary food and drink were provided.

Resort facilities and food

Papua Paradise Resort has 16 “superior” and 10 “deluxe” over water villas. They limit the number of guests to 44 at any time. The resort was full while we were there.
Most “superior” villa configured with two (twin) single beds. However, villas 15 and 16 are "family" villas, which have a double bed in the main room with a separate room containing two single beds.
The rooms are charming, of wood construction and feature the bed(s) a couch, a table and chair. There is a separate bathroom with shower and a decent outside balcony with a couple of chairs and a couple of loungers. The view is north west, so great for sunset!
There is no air con but the ceiling fan was adequate. The resort offers a free laundry service, which was a real boon and meant we packed lighter than normal. It does take up to 3 days for your laundry to be returned.

The Dive Centre has a small air-conned room for camera, with charging facilities.

There is comfortable bar area, small resort shop and a roomy restaurant. The food was sufficient, always served buffet style. At breakfast, there was an egg station which will cook omelettes, fried eggs, pancakes etc. to order. Dinner always had salad options, a soup, beef; chicken; fish options and a vegetarian main plus vegetables/rice. The food was generally tasty, although this isn’t haut-cuisine!

The clientele was mainly divers, with some snorkelers. Mostly couples, with virtually all from Europe or the USA. The average age of folks at the resort is apparently 48.
There is a spa. Apart from diving and snorkelling, the resort has bird watching including special trips to view rare Birds of Paradise.

Diving

There is a large covered jetty with a room to store your gear at night. Nitrox is free and I asked for a larger (1.5 litre) tank which was also free. Nitrox fills were in the range 30 to 32.

The resort has 10 dive boats, of varying sizes holding 2 to 12 divers. Dive guides are allocated maximum 1 guide to 4 divers. We had a group of 5. We requested and got one guide for the group and only our group in the boat all week.
There are three categories of dive site: “Local” dive sites which are about 10 to 20 minutes away. Further away sites which are up to 45 minutes away. Trips to both these categories of site are free. There are a few trips to further flung sites like the Fam Islands. These trips take up to an hour and a half and cost €75. If diving the local sites, you do two tank dives in the morning; return to the resort for lunch; do one tank afternoon dive and then have a choice of Twilight or Night dive. Further away sites involve a surface interval on a small island after the first dive; a pre-packed lunch stop at a local jetty and an afternoon dive before returning to the resort. Again, a Twilight or Night dive is offered. One of the further away sites is a manta cleaning station. Although not quite in season (which runs December through April), we saw 5 mantas up close on our first dive there and glimpsed three mantas on our second dive there. Most of the further away sites are in the Cape Kri area, about 40 minutes boat ride away. The Cape Kri area itself is world class diving, mainly wall/slope or underwater bommie diving with some strong currents involving hooking in. We only had a couple of dives which involved hooking. The other area is Mansour, which involves diving on sloping areas around a number of jetties. We had one dive at Cape Ari when, after about half an hour of gentle finning, the current suddenly got going strongly! We hooked in and had an exhilarating 20 minutes or so, with a real show-off sharks in an absolutely ripping (4 to 5 knots) current. We unhooked and flew over the reef. At the other side we encountered really challenging conditions - eddies; down currents and upwellings.

The corals (hard and soft) are abundant, diverse and healthy everywhere. The fauna was also diverse. Macro lovers will appreciate the Pigmy Seahorses; Orang Utan Crabs; Nudibranchs; Pipefish; Peacock Mantis Shrimp etc. Although not overly shark-y, we saw sharks on most dives – mainly Blacktip Reef sharks; also, Whitetip Reef sharks and we saw several Grey Reef sharks, generally when the current was running strongly and we were hooked in. We saw Wobbegong Sharks on 50% of our dives. Lots of Turtles; Stingrays; Bumphead Parrotfish; Cuttlefish, Stonefish, Leaf scorpionfish. The schooling reef fish were there in large numbers and we saw Yellow Tail and Black Tail Barracuda; Black and Red Snapper; Jacks; Giant Trevally; Tuna; Sweetlips.

Most people seemed to be on the resort’s “Unlimited Dive” package which was in the price and comprised 3 day dives and either a Twilight or Night dive. We completed 26 dives over 6 and a half days. Dives were nominally 60 minutes but sometimes longer. All were good and several were great. We had our group of 5 divers on our own boat for every dive. We don’t particularly care for Night dives, although I heard they were good. Not many divers seemed to take up the Twilight or Night dives. We asked if we could complete the fourth dive as a day dive. Although not their normal procedure, the dive staff let us do this.
Water entry is backwards roll and there is a ladder to re-enter the boat. You hand up your weights; then your BCD and finally your fins before climbing the ladder. The boat crews were great, they will assemble your gear; help you on with it and take care of your camera. Our guide, Deni, was very knowledgeable and a good spotter.

The weather was fine for diving. We had several heavy rainfalls but mostly at night and never during our surface intervals. Otherwise it was fine, sometimes sunny and around 30C. Time-consuming, although not particularly difficult to get to, Papua Paradise is a good dive resort with great quality of flora and fauna. Boats are uncrowded and (apart from a couple of dives at Cape Kri) we were the only divers on the site. It probably gets busier in the area at the height of season in March/April, with many liveaboards coming through, but there are enough sites that the crew will find you a less busy spot. The resort itself caps the number of guests and never felt particularly busy even although it was full. The Resort will provide you accommodation; “unlimited” diving and flights from/to Jakarta from about £2500 per person twin-sharing. I strongly recommend you go before the area gets much busier – which it will, given the quality of the diving.
Websites Papua Paradise

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos; Socorro; Palau; Sipadan; Truk; Malapascua; Komodo; Ticao Island; Maldives; Red Sea; Caribbean; Cuba; Hawaii; Florida; Cozumel; Spain, Seychelles, Mauritius, Oman, GBR; Raja Ampat
Closest Airport Sorong Getting There Connect via Jakarta or Makassar

Dive Conditions

Weather Seas
Water Temp -°F / -°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility - Ft/ - M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Up to one hour per dive. Max depth 30m
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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