Scuba Diving Papua and Raja Ampat

Divers dream dive destination. Known for its bio-diversity and world class diving.

Papua is a province of Indonesia. It comprises most of the western half of the island of New Guinea and nearby islands. Its capital is Jayapura. It is the largest and easternmost province of Indonesia.

Papua is a land of contrasts, with some of the most impenetrable jungles in the world and snow capped mountain peaks towering over glacial lakes. Papua is Indonesia’s largest and eastern most province and covers the western half of the world’s second largest island.

It is a land of exceptional natural grandeur; with beautiful scenic beaches, immense stretches of marshlands, cool grassy meadows and powerful rivers carving gorges through dense forests. The most heavily populated and cultivated parts of the island are the Paniai Lakes district and the Baliem Valley to the east.

The provincial capital of Jayapura is situated on hills which overlook the sea, and is accessible by boat and plane. It was here that General MacArthur assembled his fleet for the invasion of the Philippines during the Second World War.

The province originally covered the entire western half of New Guinea. In 2003, the Indonesian government formed the westernmost part of the island, around the Bird’s Head (Doberai) and Bomberai peninsulas, together with the surrounding islands of Raja Ampat, into a separate province; its name was (at first) West Irian Jaya, and is now West Papua.

The remaining part retained the name of Papua Province. It is bordered by the nation of Papua New Guinea to the east, and by the new West Papua Province to the west.

SCUBA DIVING WEST PAPUA

The majority of diving are in West Papua. Divers dream dive destination. Known for its bio-diversity and world class diving.

The province of West Papua, also known as West Irian Jaya, covers the bird’s head of Papua, a large peninsula on Indonesian New Guinea’s far northwest corner, and the small islands that surround it. Geographic boundaries of this province are the Pacific Ocean in the north; Seram Sea in the west; Banda Sea in the south; and Papua province in the east.

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RAJA AMPAT, or the Four Kings are the main islands of Waigeo in the north, Salawati just to west of Sorong, Batanta just to north of Salawati, and Misool in the south. Dotted around these main islands are hundreds of beautiful smaller islands and islets, with untouched beaches and limestone cliffs. Not only do these visually stunning islands harbor the greatest number of fish and coral species in the world, but they are reportedly the best place to see the outrageously beautiful birds of paradise in their natural habitat.

Some feel is a laboratory of diversity. It’s hard to argue with sites that boast more than 1200 species of marine life. Predator and prey vie for their share of space on the reef. A few numbers from Raja Ampat tell the story: 74 percent of all the earth’s known corals; almost 1400 species of reef fish; and more than 600 species of hard coral. Raja Ampat is generally live-aboard country with some stunning dive sites.

What makes it special:

  • 1,628 species of reef fish in the Bird’s Head Seascape
  • 1,430 species of reef fish in Raja Ampat
  • 42 species of endemic reef fish found only in the Birds Head Seascape
  • 603 species of hard coral recorded in the Bird’s Head Seascape
  • 75% of all known coral species in the world
  • 10 times the number of hard coral species found inthe entire Caribbean
  • 57 species of Mantis Shrimp in the Birds Head Seascape
  • 13 species of Marine Mammals in the Bird’s Head Seascape
  • 5 species of endangered sea turtles in the Bird’s Head Seascape
Kaiman ancient painting

TRITON BAY – lying to the south east of Raja Ampat. It is an excellent dive region in its own right with fabulous soft coral coverage, vast forests of black coral, big schools of fish, epaulette sharks, turtles, pilot whales and more. The topside scenery, with its vaulting cliffs, lush verdant foliage and ancient cave paintings, also contribute to it being a unique and unforgettable destination.

cendrawasih bay

CENDERAWASIH BAY – further east from Raja Ampat in West Papua lies the large and increasingly famous Cenderawasih Bay. It is best known for incredible scuba diving opportunities with large numbers of whale sharks. There are also several World War II wrecks to investigate and some top class muck diving locations with critters galore.

GENERAL INFORMATION

CLIMATE: Indonesia has a tropical climate with just two seasons. The dry season starts in April and lasts until October, which is the best time to travel, though monsoon season, from November and March is fine to travel as well. It’s quieter than in the high season and the rain is generally limited to a couple of hours at the end of the day. On most of the islands there’s little difference between the winter and summer, with temperatures averaging 25C-30C all year round.

TIME ZONE: Eastern Indonesia Time which is GMT +9 (covering Maluku and Irian Jaya). The capital Jakarta is GMT + 7 or 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.

LANGUAGE: Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language in the entire country.

ELECTRICITY: Electric power supply is 220 volts in all regions. So be careful with your 110-volt electronic equipment. The sockets will only fit with with two pins rounded-tip plugs (technically known as Type C, E, and F) or use adaptors.

CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Indonesia Rupiah (Rp) is also called IDR. IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies. Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. When you are traveling to remote areas it is advisable to exchange your money and clear your check. Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies.

ATM in Sorong: Be aware that there’s no guarantee your card will work in all Indonesian bank ATM. To avoid surprises it’s recommended you test your card in a few different banks’ machines prior to arriving in Sorong. Also be aware of your daily withdrawal limit. The most convenient ATMs in Sorong are the ones in the airport. One of those is reported to dispense IDR 100,000 notes and has a maximum single withdrawal limit of IDR 2,500,000 (You can withdraw multiple times up to your own bank’s daily withdrawal limit.)

GRATUITIES: Most hotels add a 10% service charge to the bill on top of the 10% tax. In restaurants where service charge is not added, a tip of 5 to 10% on the bill will be appropriate depending on the service and type of establishment.

PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Country code +62. Most hotels and many restaurants in large cities provide internet connections or free WiFi. For a remote archipelago of scattered islands, Raja Ampat has fairly good mobile phone coverage. Internet capable devices will work over the cell phone network (signal strength and connection plan permitting). Internet access is otherwise limited to Sorong, Waisai and some of the region’s dive resorts.

VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS:  All travelers to Indonesia must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, and have proof (tickets) of onward or return passage. Visa upon arrival is $35 Payable by USD cash only. Please check with your country if you are eligible for visa upon arrival. Visa-on-Arrival are valid for 30 days and are extendable with another 30 days to be applied at Immigration offices in Indonesia.

CUSTOMS:   Maximum items allowed by customs when you visit Indonesia, 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes OR 50 cigars OR 100 grams of tobacco, Reasonable amount of perfume per adult, meaning if you arrive drenched in perfume the customs probably will not mind you carrying loads of bottles, Cameras, video cameras, portable radios, cassette recorders, binoculars and sport equipments are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. They must be declared to Customs.

DEPARTURE TAX: An airport tax of IDR150,000 – IDR200,000 is levied by airports on departing passengers on international flights and IDR30,000-IDR75,000 for those on domestic routes. Airport tax must be paid in Rupiah cash.

GETTING THERE: The northern and western coasts of West Papua Province are the easiest parts of the province to visit with well developed infrastructure. The oil town of Sorong at the western tip of West Papua is the main airport for the Raja Ampat Islands to the west. Biak Island also has its own airport and has a number of attractions including war relics, coral-filled waters, and fine sand beaches. Jayapura is the provincial capital.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Indonesia Tourism Information

Map

 

More Information on INDONESIA

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