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Written by Scuba Instructors ~ DIVE.in's Complete Guide to:

The Best Diving in Raja Ampat

Weather in Raja Ampat

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Raja Ampat

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

Bath
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Language

Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)
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The authors:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

For any diver in the world, Raja Ampat is synonymous with SCUBA diving heaven.

The Raja Ampat archipelago are comprised of over 1500 islands located off Sorong. This West Papua Province has the fantastic combination of kind and welcoming people living in a pristine natural paradise.

It is known by many names including Four Kings, jewel of the Coral Triangle, underwater Serengeti all to pay homage to the are with the highest marine biodiversity on our beautiful blue planet.

More of Indonesia:
This Raja Ampat guide is part of our Diving in Indonesia guide that also has diving in the Gili Islands, SulawesiBali and Komodo

What are the Best Dive Sites in Raja Ampat?

In this post, you will learn about the best dive sites to check out while scuba diving in Raja Ampat. You will also see the varying difficulty levels, and what you can expect to see on your underwater explorations.

The 10 Best Dive sites in Raja Ampat?

Sort this list to fit your scuba level and wishes

Recommended Level


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Dive Type


  1. Macro
  2. reef
  3. Drift
  4. Swim throughs
  5. Megafauna
  6. Cleaning Station
  7. Pinnacle
  8. Pelagic
  9. Current
  10. Limestone
  11. Fish schools
  12. Snorkelling
  13. Freediving
  14. Jetty

Show only the very best


  1. Yes
  2. No

Boo Windows

This dive site is situated in the Boo Islet, which can only be reached by boat and has few visitors visit the beach. The water surrounding it, however, holds incredible marinelife. This dive site has two massive swim throughs right through the beautiful reef. These two windows in the complex reef structure provide a unique topographical dive and a range of marine life swimming around. The reef itself is thriving and healthy with plenty of soft and hard corals in a variety of awe inspiring colours.

What you will see:

Unique reef topography with hard and soft corals coating the shallow areas in a spectacular array of colours. Make sure to bring your dive torch to illuminate the true rainbow display of coral cover. The dense coral coverage provides a haven for reef fish, frog fish, pygmy sea horses, butterfly fish, schooling fish, and grazing turtles.


Intermediate Macro reef Drift Swim throughs

Shadow Reef

Located on the South of the Boo area is the frequently visited Shadow Reef. This is a submerged pinnacle which attracts a hoard of fish. Pinnacles are sub water mountains which rise from the ocean floor to just below the surface creating an ideal destination for deep, dwelling creatures to come near the surface to hunt, sun, and interact. This pinnacle is also a cleaning station for the spectacularly graceful manta rays.

What you will see:

Both the massive oceanic manta rays and smaller manta rays use this site as a cleaning station, meaning they will slowly circle the site while allowing cleaner wrasse to remove parasites from their skin. Simply choose a spot to stay and watch the swirling beautiful creatures. Nursing white tip reef sharks, napoleon wrasse and schools of pelagic also congregate near the pinnacle. If you want to spot bigger megafauna keep your eyes in the deep blue to see the bigger creatures.


Beginner Megafauna Cleaning Station Pinnacle Pelagic Our Favorite

Four Kings

This is one of the most well-known dive sites in Raja Ampat, and that is due to the awe-inspiring view of the four underwater pinnacles the dive site is named after. Three of these pinnacles are connected by a ridge, with the shallowest one only 7m below the surface, and the other three descending deeper down. This unique topography attracts a myriad of marine life and provides a fantastic dive site for beginner and advanced divers.

What you will see:

The four pinnacles rising from the depth of 30m have become a colourful playground for just about every creature from schooling predatory fish such as barracuda and trevally, to coral grazing turtles with plenty of reef fish hiding in the creeks and crevices. This is also a great place to spot for invertebrates, as they are masters of camouflage.


Beginner Intermediate reef Megafauna Pinnacle Pelagic Our Favorite

Blue Magic

This site is located between Mioskon and Cape Kri in the deep blue. It is an underwater pinnacle site which rises from the sea floor at a depth of 30m to 7m below the surface. The pinnacle is covered in spectacular corals ranging from gorgonian sea fans, colourful sponges, soft, and hard corals. The fact that this pinnacle is one of the only underwater structures for quite some distance in the deep blue, means it attracts many bigger species to stop by.

What you will see:

Since this is a manta ray cleaning station, you can simply choose a spot on the dive site to stay and let the majestic gliding rays circle just centimetres away from your face. Make sure to not touch them, as contact with humans can wipe of their protectory film which helps defend them against bacteria and infections. The pinnacle also attracts massive schools of barracuda, plenty of octopus which are camouflaged among the sponge coral, and white tip, black tip and even grey reef sharks!


Intermediate Advanced Megafauna Cleaning Station Pinnacle Pelagic Current Our Favorite

Citrus Ridge

This dive site gained its name by the explosion of color that covers the reef in all the shades of citrus fruits. This means you will see soft and hard corals along with sponges ranging from electric yellows, oranges, to deep reds. There are corals in varying shades of spectacular purple, greens, and just about every other color of the rainbow dispersed on this beautiful dive site. It is a good idea to bring your torch to allow you to experience a range of colors.

What you will see:

This is the ideal aquarium dive for keen underwater macro photographers. You will see thousands of glassfish, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, parrot fish, and plenty of other reef fish. There are also batfish gliding above the reef among the schools of barracuda. If you take your time, you will also be able to spot some truly unique invertebrate hidden with the coral. Frogfish are fantastic at camouflage and are a challenge to find as they seamlessly blend into the bizarre shapes and colors of corals.


Beginner Intermediate Macro reef Current

Melissa’s Garden

This coral reef garden is the home to many gorgeous species of sea life and is one of the unmissable spots during your trip to Raja Ampat. The dive site is on the west end of Batanda Islands in the group of islets named the Jet Fam Islands.

What you will see:

The bizarre looking wobbegong is one of the main attractions of this reef. These crustacean consuming sharks tend to sleep on the ocean floor in caves, and under ledges hidden away from prying eyes. They are virtually indistinguishable from the seabed, so keep your eyes peeled for their interesting whiskered face and splotchy brown pattern. The reef also attracts manta rays from May to October, along with great barracudas and many clownfish in the sprawling mass of anemones.


Beginner Intermediate Macro reef Megafauna Limestone

Cape Kri

This dive site holds the world record for the greatest number of species recorded on a single dive. 374 in just one dive in 2012! This is because it is situated at the tip of the Island of Kri which is where several currents converge bringing along nutrients and subsequently a diverse variety of fauna and flora. The currents can be strong, therefore advanced certification and knowledge of using reef hooks is advisable.

What you will see:

This incredible dive destination attracts many species of shark including grey reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, and even snoozing wobbegongs hidden away in caves. Massive schools of fish swim in the currents with divers being able to identify trevally, great barracuda, fusiliers, and mackerel. The coral coverage on this part of the island is also exquisite. Keep your coral identification book handy to spot the unique soft corals, colourful sponges, and hard corals which hide away little crabs, shrimps, and other invertebrates. One of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular site, is to find a secure spot to lodge your reef hook and stay in the same place and let the majestic sea life swirl around you.


Intermediate Advanced Macro reef Megafauna Current Our Favorite

Arborek Jetty

This spectacular dive site is the home of millions of teaming fish that you cannot miss the opportunity to dive amongst. The site is quite shallow; therefore, it is a great spot to practise your free diving or enjoy a snorkel.

What you will see:

Thousands to millions of schooling fish surrounding you from every direction. The density of the fish school is so vast, that often you will not be able to see the water as the ball of fish will envelop you. The reef and coastline are beautiful as well, but you will most certainly be transfixed by the dance of the schooling fish.


Beginner reef Fish schools Snorkelling Freediving Jetty Our Favorite

Mioskun

The current at this dive site is typically light, which makes it a good dive site for beginners. Occasionally it does pick up and become strong so make sure to double check with your dive company and go with a guide. The dive site is a pinnacle which rises from 25m of depth to just below the surface in the Dampier Straight.

What you will see:

This dive site is most famous for being the home of many yellow snapper schooling and swirling around the coral column. If you head towards the bottom of the pinnacle, you will be able to see wobbegong sharks hiding in the cracks and caves. Grab yourself a torch to better spot these masters of camouflage, while they pose no threat to humans as they eat crustaceans, avoid aggravating them. The gorgonian fans are also the home to sea horses and tiny little ornate crabs. Schools of fusiliers and trevallies will swim around you while you are looking at the coral structures. Peek into the crevices to spot crabs, shrimp, moray eels, and coral groupers.


Beginner Intermediate Macro reef Pinnacle Current

Sardine Reef

This dive site is an enormous oval underwater hill which is almost 200m long reaching 5m below the surface and descending towards the seabed at 25m. The massive size of this underwater structure means it splits the oncoming current and funnels it along both northern and southern sides of the pinnacle.

What you will see:

The top part of the structure is covered in dense coral coverage with many fish hiding among the coral branches for safety. You will see banner fish, butterfly fish, sweetlips, and snappers. In terms of predatory fish, there are triggerfish, barracuda, Spanish mackerel, and giant trevallies. Take some time to peek into cracks to see if you can spot a tasselled wobbegong, octopus, or scorpion fish. If you keep your eyes out towards the deep blue, you will have a better chance of seeing reef sharks cruising by.


Beginner Intermediate Pinnacle Pelagic Current Our Favorite

Marine Biodiversity in Raja Ampat

The islands boast extraordinary wildlife and spectacular views of jungle covered islands, secret lagoons, mysterious caves, inlets, all situated on inviting turquoise waters. If you have seen any photos of this breath-taking part of the world, you are already convinced to book your next dive holiday.

Almost every dive site you will visit will introduce you to new creatures you haven’t seen anywhere else, along with the opportunity to spot some truly exquisite megafauna. Keep your eyes peeled for anything from manta rays, sharks, moray eels, napoleon wrasse, or even a passing whale’s shark!

In terms of coral, Raja has over 75% of the Earth’s species dispersed among its twinkling waters. So far, the coral species have proved to be resilient to Climate Change and are thriving! Many of the dive sites are pinnacles which reach from the ocean floor to near the surface where they become sanctuaries for passing sea life in the deep blue.

Liveaboard or day boats?

The best way to explore this isolated and incredible part of the world, is to book yourself onto a liveaboard dive boat. There are options for 3-7-day liveaboards which bring you through the heart of the Coral Triangle. There are over 2,500 islands and reefs, 1,320 fish species, 550 coral species, and new ones being discovered every day. There are options of traditional Phinisi Raja Ampat liveaboards which keep dive numbers small and give you a feel for the local boats. There are both options for cheap and luxury liveaboards, meaning you will certainly be able to find the perfect match for you.

There is also the chance to stay in a resort and dive every day from day boats or directly from the shore of the islands. It is a significantly cheaper option; however, you might potentially miss on some of the more remote and secluded spots.

If you have the financial freedom, it is a good idea to spend the money on a liveaboard as it will give you the unforgettable trip of a lifetime.

Best Time to Visit Raja Ampat

While majority of vessels offer trips throughout the year, the best time to dive is October or November. This is when the winds are the smallest, and the ocean is the calmest. Unfortunately, Raja Ampat has unpredictable weather which means all liveaboards and dive trips have plans and contingencies to deal with unfavourable weather conditions.

Otherwise, it is advisable to head over during Raja Ampat’s dry season which is October until April. Manta Rays however arrive in the region from May to October, which makes divers adjust their holidays to ensure to see these gentle giants.

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