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Dive Review of Peter Hughes -- Paradise Dancer in
Indonesia/Raja Ampat

Peter Hughes -- Paradise Dancer, Dec, 2009,

by Mona Cousens, CA, United States (Contributor Contributor 12 reports). Report 5358.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation N/A Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments So far this has not been an easy trek. We flew LA to Tokyo (10 hours) a two hour layover, a 7.5 hour flight from Tokyo to Singapore. An eight hour layover in SIN and a 1.5 hour flight to Jakarta. Then an overnight in Jakarta.

For the overnight in SIN, if you check your bags all the way through you can stay at the transit hotel inside the terminal. Because we picked up our bags to re-check them on a different carrier in the AM we stayed at the Crowne Plaza right outside baggage claim at the end of Terminal 3. We walked there. Do not make a reservation online as the rate is half that amount when you go to the reservation desk located in the arrival terminal at Chiangi Airport. They will call the hotel for you right then and you pay them with a credit card.

On Garuda Indonesia from SIN to Jakarta for this 1.5 hour leg they charged us 80.00 US for overweight baggage. they wanted to charge us 160.00 USD but we argued that their website gives an extension on overages if you are carrying “sporting equipment” including scuba gear. This was worth the 7-8 minute delay at the check-in counter while the agent confirmed these facts.

On our arrival in Jakarta, we stayed at the Sheraton Bandara. This is a five minute ride from the airport and cost 80.00 US ++ for one night. If you miss the shuttle just take a cab. The taxi cost three US dollars to the hotel.

In Jakarta we took a flight to Sorong and they charged us 105.00 USD for our over weight bags. They gave us five dollars off for the “sporting equipment” exclusion. They only accept rupiah so be careful with that.
One couple on our flight had the same problem with overweight bags but they pulled open their wallet and said “this is all the rupiah we have”. The agent said OK and took just that amount. It was far less than what we paid. (Live and learn).

On the Paradise Dancer I know you have all heard of the fabulous rooms and they are just that, but the crew seemed somewhat unorganized when the cabin I was to be in and had documented on my paperwork was given to another single person traveling alone. They gave us, a couple, a smaller cabin in the bow area. They moved us when I produced my paperwork and all was done without too much hassle but why not have that info in advance? Taking a poll, I found one other couple who did not receive their pre-booked room. The boat staff DID know who was to be in the owner’s cabin at least.

So far the diving is not as stellar as I expected. We are diving near Sorido Bay and the reefs are not looking as pristine as I believed they would be. For the first two days of the trip, with the exception of Manta Sandy which was five stars all the way given the fact that we had mantas for the whole entire dive, the diving has ranged from ho-hum to ok to pretty good.
The pier near the pearl farm does have an excellent muck type dive as we saw crocodile fish, wobbegong sharks, lots of lionfish, pipefish and myriad other things.
The same pier at night produced the blue ring octopus and a walking shark.

We are now on day seven of a twelve day trip. We are off of Misool Island. The diving the past two days has greatly improved as the reefs are quite pristine with prolific hard and soft corals and the usual small creatures. Sometimes the reefs are so colorful with bright orange or yellow soft corals looking like a rainbow.
What is missing are the fish. There are no great schools and we have seen two large fishing vessels, either Chinese or Japanese “passing through” the protected lagoon here.
Our fish experience today was four bumpheads and one barracuda, the first I have seen on this entire trip. There were some good small fish schools very shallow up on the reefs today but overall much lower than originally expected.
The island topography is quite stunning and reminds me of the rock islands of Palau only larger. We took one of the dive tenders and went around to see the gorgeous coves surrounding the rock islands. It is a nice way to spend some surface time.

Our dive sites today were BOO and Black Magic Mountain. BOO is where the cover of the book on Raja Ampat was taken. We are not having much luck with viz. It is running between 40 to 80 feet with lots of backscatter. The corals and the walls here are quite stunning but the fish life is still low. We saw a school of barracuda having a total of 20-30 fish. Don’t get me wrong, the diving is far superior to most anything else going in the world today. I’m just amazed that we have seen only one comet fish, one boxfish, maybe 10 moorish idols, etc. All the usual subjects are here, just not many of each one.

Our next day took us to Daram Island. This was our best diving so far as we had fish on the reef and in larger numbers. We had schools of batfish, surgeon fish, anthias, etc.
The corals were excellent with bright colors, etc. Everyone is happy on Paradise Dancer.

Our last day we did a muck dive. Ok, so it is not Lembeh, but we still saw mating cuttlefish, myriad nudibranchs, mantis shrimp, etc.
On the second dive however, we saw an upsetting thing when we jumped in and found a dozen small (about three feet long) white tip sharks dead on the bottom. We were told that they become snared in the local fisherman’s nets and since the villagers do not like to eat them they just throw them in the water. They used no part of any of those sharks.
Maybe this is why on the whole 12 day trip the whole boatload of divers saw a total of approximately 6 sharks not counting the wobbegongs.

Our departure from the boat was easy and the flight from Sorong to Manado was easier on the budget as we only paid 35.00 USD for our over weight bags. Each city pair seems to have it’s own weight charges. I do know that each city charges a different departure tax rate. This must be paid in rupiah so it is good to know that in advance.

Websites Peter Hughes -- Paradise Dancer   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving South Pacific, Australia, Caribbean, So. America, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 80-83°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Just dont go into deco.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The camera room is well thought out and has lots of private space for each photographer.
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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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