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Ultimate Raja Ampat – The Last Paradise (Part 2 of 3)

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I’m hoping by now that you would have read the first part of my Ultimate Raja Ampat story with La Galigo Liveaboard. If not, then please check out Part 1 HEREWe really started with a bang and visited some incredible dive sites in the first few days. The amount of fish life seen on the dives was incredible and I could only hope the rest of the trip would continue to deliver.

I didn’t have to wait long before another unforgettable dive for the very first the next day. We were aiming for ‘Manta Ridge’ and as the name suggests, we were looking for the majestic manta rays. The anticipation was bursting as I love spending time with manta rays and the guides had already alluded to the fact they saw them on the current check. The current was strong and reef hooks were advised once we got to the ridge.

My group was the last in and as we worked our way along the ridge towards the cleaning station, it wasn’t long before a manta came into view. I managed to find a great spot to hook into and enjoyed the most amazing show. Stunning reef manta rays glided over my head within touching distance before hovering over the reef as they were cleaned thoroughly by black lip butterflyfish and other small fishes. This was how we spent most the dive at around only 10 metres before moving back along the ridge and shallowing up on top of the reef to hook in for our safety stop. HOWEVER, the best was yet to come for me personally, as I was reluctant to leave and dawdled behind the group, continually checking over my shoulder, until there it was…

An amazing encounter with a black manta ray at Manta Ridge

This was what I was hoping to see on my trip to Raja and to be close enough to get a photo I was truly happy with. I’d seen black manta rays before, but never close enough for a decent photo, now suddenly the opportunity presented itself. I saw my group just metres away hook onto the reef at 5-6 metres and I felt protected from the worst of the current, as this majestic manta suddenly glided within just a couple of metres of me. I couldn’t believe the interaction I was getting and it felt like I was completely alone with it for this short moment. It glided along the reef while getting cleaned before circling a couple of times within touching distance. I just kept shooting and hoping the photos were coming out ok, while my adrenalin was pumping through my body for one of the best manta ray encounters I’ve had. Thankfully I was more than happy with the images I got and the memories were even greater.

Always a treat to see a pygmy seahorse. In this case a Hippocampus bargibanti

It was only day four and I had already ticked off some real Raja Ampat bucket list moments. The pressure was certainly off but the day continued in style and showed the diversity of life here. After a second dive at Mayhem with numerous resting wobbegongs and an overly friendly hawksbill turtle, it was time to mix it up on the third dive and go small, really small. Raja Ampat is famous for pygmy seahorses, as it’s an incredible place for numerous healthy sea fans. I’d been advised you have the chance to see them on pretty much every dive, making it so hard to choose between macro and wide angle with the incredible choice here. For dive three though, I was advised Hippocampus bargibanti had been seen on the previous trip and I opted for macro. It didn’t disappoint and I was so happy to see the super cute bargibanti seahorses once again and have the chance to photograph them. Followed by one of my favourite critters no matter how many times I see them – the peacock mantis shrimp. I love it when a plan comes together!! 

Wayag Lagoon trek was quite the adventure as we scrambled from the speedboats onto the limestone island

It was now time to head to the most northern part of the itinerary – Wayag. Famous for its stunning landscape and lagoon, I was really looking forward to mixing it up and taking a break from diving. Our first adventure of the day would be a trek up Wayag Lagoon instead of diving, although I couldn’t resist a quick swim with the blacktip reef sharks that were circling the boat before the trek.

The trek in itself was an interesting adventure. I wasn’t expecting it to be difficult and presumed it was stairs but I soon realised it wouldn’t be that easy. It made it much more fun though, as we navigated the footholds and scrambled up the formations in the limestone. The limestone can get quite sharp and you really have to have your concentration in check on this climb, but it is more than manageable for any fitness level if you take your time. It is only a short 20-minute hike but took longer due to being mesmerised by the incredible views with each step higher. One of the most stunning views I’ve been lucky enough to lay my eyes on. The different shades of blue of the glass like sea broken up by lush green rainforest covering the limestone islands. It’s so cliché to say “the view took my breath away” but there’s no other way to describe the scene.

The views of Wayag Lagoon were well worth the short trek up the limestone island

Diving around Wayag was all about macro critters for me. Two more day dives followed where again nudibranch of all shapes, size and colour made appearances. Our guide Aghi was brilliant at finding the really small flabellina variety. Squat lobsters, crabs and shrimps were the crustaceans keeping me entertained before one of the best night dives ever. Terserah Point is a sloping white sand dive looking for the weird and wonderful. Bobtail squid were seen in great numbers and were another first for me, with a long arm octopus, cuttlefish and decorator crab also putting on a show before the grand finale. The charismatic coconut octopus dazzling with its colours and tentacle show, while trying its best to hide between two shells. Again, another first for me, which was becoming quite the norm on this trip. Even having a close call with a box jellyfish right at the end of the dive, it got the adrenalin going but again another cool critter to see and my first.

A coconut octopus sets up home between two shells at Terserah Point night dive

The next couple of days we started to head south again, as we were aiming for the area around Misool Island and the marine reserve. We stopped at Kawe, Aljuy and Penemu along the way and the dives were all about the stunning coral that Raja Ampat is famous for. While also trying to see manta rays again at Eagle Rock 1. Unfortunately, the dive didn’t deliver mantas, although it was a stunning site with hawksbill turtle, wobbegong and the only banded sea krait I saw on a dive on the trip. However, we just happened to be diving the wrong island at Eagle Rock and when we surfaced, we saw mantas from the boat and took the opportunity to swim with them as six swam past at the surface. One bigger manta continued to circle a coral pinnacle beneath us – enough for another manta fix!

The soft coral formations were stunning at Batu Rufus

The swim throughs at Wofoh South and Batu Rufus provided stunning photography opportunities with amazing topography. The dancing anchovy school mesmerised, and the coral formations were breathtaking on all dives, none more so than the beautiful Melissa’s Garden. This was a relaxing dive on top of some of the best hard coral gardens I’ve seen. Anthias danced in and out with Napoleon wrasse a constant sight throughout. It was also another amazing dive for nudibranch, quite the popular macro subject in Raja Ampat. Pianemo trek on the morning of day seven was again a welcome break from diving and something different to enjoy and see the amazing scenery from a vantage point. A much easier trek, as a well-maintained staircase leads you up to the viewpoint over the lagoon. Breathtaking views were waiting, while meeting local villagers and buying fresh coconuts provided welcome company from our liveaboard bubble.

I was so excited to find this small wunderpus octopus on Wofoh North night dive

While all these sites were truly special, it was again the night dive that stole the show for me. Another sloping white sand dive but this time at Wofoh North. Again, it was all about the weird and wonderful, as the guides alluded to it being a great place for wunderpus octopus. I was keeping my fingers crossed, as it was another new species for me to see and as it happened, I didn’t have to wait long into the dive. There it was, sitting perfectly still in the sand, no bigger than the palm of my hand and guess who found it? Yes!! That’s right! I was so excited to spot it in the sand myself, although it took me a second to make sure it definitely was an octopus. What an amazing dive this was for the whole 50 minutes. Another wunderpus was found, that was actually still in its larval stage; an amazing find. Spearing mantis shrimp, nudibranch, sea moths, bobtail squid, devil scorpionfish and more were just the tip of the iceberg on another amazing night dive.

This place just continued to deliver with its amazing biodiversity and it was now time to head south on a 16 hour crossing heading close to Misool Island. Stay tuned for our adventures on the final four days diving the south. 

For more information about diving in Raja Ampat:

sean@greatwhitesean.com

www.lagaligoliveaboard.com

info@lagaligoliveaboard.com

Whatsapp: +62 812 2000 2025

One of the number of hawksbill turtles seen on most of the reef dives

Sean Chinn’s scuba diving adventure started in a freezing cold quarry back in January 2011. Maybe the reason he wasn't instantly hooked! However, after an amazing trip to Indonesia in 2013, he realised he needed to see more of the underwater world. With no photography background, he enlisted some help in developing both his diving and photo skills. This kickstarted his diving and underwater photography adventure which has become something of an addiction. Seeing and photographing wildlife is Sean’s real passion in diving but he is always keen to try new ideas.

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Dive into Egypt in 2024 with Sea to Sky

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dive into egypt

Is Egypt part of your travel plans for 2024 and beyond, with scuba diving, Liveaboard adventures, Freediving trips, or Diving courses in mind?

Look no further, as we have some fantastic packages and handpicked destinations that we believe are the best. We’re passionate about what we do, and we’re confident you’ll love our destinations, as well as our trusted suppliers who are dedicated to ensuring you have the perfect experience.

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All our suppliers are listed on our website, but keep an eye on our social media pages for updates.

The Sea to Sky team are fluent in Italian, English, and French, and we’re available most of the time to answer any questions you may have (unless we’re underwater, of course!).

Learn to dive with Jeremy: We offer PADI and SSI courses up to professional levels in Egypt. Jeremy has a wealth of experience and a deep passion for teaching.

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Liveaboard diving in the Red Sea: Our partner is one of the most reputable operators in the Red Sea, and we have numerous dates available for 2024.

Red Sea Diving Safari: Experience scuba diving and freediving with unlimited house reef diving, providing the ultimate eco-diving experience. With three resort options, you’re spoiled for choice.

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Aziab Seafaris: Ever dreamed of freediving with hundreds of dolphins at Sataya Reef or disconnecting from daily life for a few days? Now’s your chance to sail and freedive the Red Sea and experience the incredible.

Dive Dahab: Explore Dahab with various accommodation options to suit your budget. Dive sites include the famous Blue Hole, Gabr El Bint, and numerous shore dives. Alternatively, simply unwind and relax in Dahab style with our amazing package.

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Camel Dive in Sharm El Sheikh: Camel Dive has a reputation for affordability and professionalism, choose from on of our Dive and Stay Packages and experience Ras Mohamed and the captivating Coral life

These are just a few of our incredible experiences. Don’t hesitate to send us a direct message or call us anytime. We love to chat about anything and everything.

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Contact us on:

Email: hello@mysetaosky.co.uk

WhatsApp: + 39 379 236 7138

Website: www.myseatosky.co.uk

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Master Liveaboards announce new boat for Indonesia

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Master Liveaboards are excited to announce a new vessel in Indonesia. Indo Master is a traditional phinisi style liveaboard, built from teak and ironwood. Launched in 2022, she is
the very definition of a modern Indonesian phinisi.

indo master

Indo Master offers 9 cabins for a maximum of 18 guests. Below decks there are 4
traditional Classic cabins, with a choice of twin or double layouts. There is also a larger
Premium cabin with two double beds for those who prefer to spread out on their trips.

Moving above, there are two Premium twin cabins with ocean views and Juliette balconies.
Finally, there are two glorious Superior double cabins that come complete with their own
private exterior balconies. It may go without saying, but it’s worth mentioning that all
cabins come with their own individual air conditioning and private ensuite bathrooms.

indo master

Modern comfort from top to bottom

On the main deck there is a spacious bar, restaurant, and lounge area, commanding bright
ocean views. And of course a dive deck with plenty of space for everyone and, towards the
bow, a shaded outdoor lounge area. Finally, up top, there is a huge sun deck, complete
with comfortable seating for those between dive snoozes.

indo master

Indo Master will offer a series of itineraries from 7 to 13 nights in Komodo, Raja Ampat,
and almost everything in between, showcasing the best Indonesia has to offer. Master
Liveaboards are now taking bookings and have a series of launch offers that you can see,
and book with secure payment options, on their website.

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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