Dive Indonesia’s Raja Ampat on a budget liveaboard
One of Indonesia’s best places to scuba dive is Raja Ampat, but it’s not the cheapest place to go. However, there are some affordable liveaboard boats to choose from to scuba dive Raja Ampat.
There's no doubting that a dive trip to Indonesia's Raja Ampat is top of many scuba diver's bucket list. But if you're on a budget, then an affordable option needs to be considered. Indonesia's Raja Ampat is a photographers heaven, with some of the best marine bio-diversity on the planet and has nine affordable liveaboard boats to choose from.
Raja Ampat where is it?
Raja Ampat is situated off the northwest tip of Bird's Head Peninsula on Papua. Where Papua is the most eastern Island of this Indonesian Archipelago.
Raja Ampat is all about diversity and draws in mostly advanced divers. This is due to its drift diving and currents. It's also an 'off the beaten track' dive location.
Raja Ampat is probably not suitable for beginner divers due to the strong currents. It's worth reading the quote below from someone who experienced a strong down-current!
I dived Raja Ampat in October, I only had about 16 dives and actually got stuck in a down current which took me to 30 meters and out of air which was damn scary! I was diving with my friend who is an instructor who said she had never experienced currents like it. The other five dives were all fine however I felt not as easy to relax there as I have diving other places.
It is incredible, however I would advise getting at least an Advanced before going to help with the depth of some of the dive sights. There are some easier sights and just snorkeling around the house reef on our island of Kri there was so much wildlife.Is Raj Ampat diving appropriate for beginners? - Lonely Planet
It's a photographers heaven and a scientists dream. There's a huge diversity of species and a huge range of dive sites to choose from. Indonesia’s Raja Ampat is one of the most bio-diverse marine region on earth.
Raja Ampat or the Four Kings
Raja Ampat means 'The Four Kings.' It is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands and cays. If you take the master cabin (see below), you could be diving 'The Four Kings' like a king.
The main four islands in the area include Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool.
As the diving is so amazing, you'd think it would be very expensive, but there are affordable Indonesian Raja Ampat liveaboards. So let's take a look.
9 Affordable Indonesian Raja Ampat liveaboards
There are nine affordable liveaboard boats to choose from to scuba dive from in Raja Ampat.
These are as follows:
- KLM Kiri Kiri - An affordable 22 metre (73 feet) wooden Phinisi schooner liveaboard for 8 divers. Dive trips of 7-10 nights with 16 to 25 dives in total. Rated Superb, 9 out of 10, with 4.5 stars.
- KM Raja Manta - 36 metre (119 feet) large steel-hulled boat purpose-built budget liveaboard for 20 divers. Dive trips of 6-10 nights with 18-30 dives in total. Rated Superb 9.2 out of 10, with 4.5 stars.
- KLM Jaya - 14 dive guests can enjoy this 23 metre (76 feet) 6 sail phinisi schooner. Dive trips of 4-13 nights with 12-30 dives in total. Rated Fabulous, 8.9 out of 10,with 4.5 stars.
- KLM Tidak Apa'Pa - A small traditional Phinisi 7-sail liveaboard for small groups of divers. 20 metre (66 feet) liveaboard for 8 divers max. Dive trips of 6-13 nights with 17-35 dives in total. Rated Exceptional, 10 out of 10, with 5 stars.
- MV Empress II - 24 metre (79 feet) steel hulled exploration boat for up to 10 scuba divers on a budget. Dive trips of 4-10 nights with 13-28 dives in total. Rated Superb, 9.2 out of 10 and 4.5 stars.
- MV Putri Papua - A 26 metre (85 feet) Indonesian phinisi boat for up to 9 scuba divers on a budget. Dive trips of 10 nights with up to 28 dives in total. Rated Superb, 9.4 out of 10 and 4.5 stars.
- Akomo Isseki - 27 metre (89 feet) traditional hand-crafted wooden phinisi boat for up to 8 scuba divers on a budget. Dive trips of 7-10 nights with up to 17-25 dives in total. Rated Superb, 9.4 out of 10 and 4.5 stars.
- Mantra - 30 metre (98 feet) traditional Indonesian Phinisi sailboat for up to 10 scuba divers on a budget. Dive trips of up to 11 nights with up to 27 dives in total. Rated Exceptional, 10 out of 10 and 5 stars.
- Bigkanu - 24 metre (79 feet) trimaran liveaboard for up to 12 scuba divers on a budget. Dive trips of up to 6 nights. Rated Superb, 9 out of 10 and 4.5 stars.
Large number of dive sites on affordable dive boats
The above affordable liveaboard dive boats in Raja Ampat go to varying places and dive sites. Depending on the budget liveaboard you choose and the length of trip, will depend on where it takes you.
But wherever you go in this bio-diverse area, you'll not be disappointed. You'll get to see shark action with various reef sharks, a chance to see manta rays, turtles, schooling fish and big pelagics.
Raja Ampat underwater species list
From the Papuan Garden Eel to the Mantis Shrimp at the small end of the scale.
With the Raja Ampat Epaulette shark (also known as the shark that can walk on land! See below). To the Tasselled Wobbegong shark at the smaller end of sharks through to the largest of them all, the whale shark. You'll see a whole host of sharks. If of course you like scuba diving with sharks that is, when you visit Raja Ampat.
Raja Ampat Epaulette shark - The shark that can walk on land
I think this is pretty cool, I've also learned something new today from writing this article.
Until I looked up the Raja Ampat Epaulette shark (which I'd not heard of before now), I had never seen this before.
I think it's a pretty remarkable creature. I remember 'rock-pooling' when I was younger and loved to explore rock pools. But if I'd come across something like this land -walking shark, I'd have been amazed!
Here's an Epaulette Shark in Australia:
Here's a video of the shark walking along a reef underwater:
Dugongs in Raja Ampat
Something else I learned today was about the dugongs that live in and around Raja Ampat. Dugongs have been mistaken for mermaids in the past. They are similar creatures to the Manatees of Florida and the Caribbean.
They are extremely rare in Indonesia. Therefore your chances of seeing one when you're diving Raja Ampat are extremely low. Look at it as a bonus if you spot one.
Crocodiles of Raja Ampat
There are also salt water crocodiles in the Raja Ampat region. These don't seem to be the same problem as the salties of Australia, but nevertheless they are there.
These seem to pose more of a threat to those staying on land on islands like Gam. They pose a particular thread to snorkelers.
But having said that, diver David Shem-Tov was grabbed by a crocodile when scuba diving in Raja Ampat. So they are worth knowing about. He lived to tell the tale, but sustained a number of injuries.
16 hours back to land!
The liveaboard dive boat from which he was diving had to motor 16 hours back to land so he could be treated in hospital.
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE JUST ANOTHER pleasure dive to observe some of the small creatures of the mangroves. I was absorbed by a tiny crustacean on a patch of anemone.Crocodile attack Raja Ampat Indonesia - divernet.com
My concentration was broken by a strange muffled sound. Chus Barrientos, my friend and diving buddy, was shouting through his regulator. I looked up to see him finning furiously backwards.
On the surface, perhaps 6m away and just 1m above me, was a saltwater crocodile. It was swimming fast, roughly in my direction.
I froze, and held my breath, hoping that if I didnt blow bubbles or stir the water, it might not notice me. It passed. Then its head suddenly swung sharply to the right and it dived towards me.
Four months before the above attack (which was in 2009), Lauren Greider, a former nurse from California, had been chased by a smaller, significantly less bulky crocodile at the same Blue Water Mangroves dive site.
Other sea life at Raja Ampat
Other less dangerous sea life in the waters of Raja Ampat include dolphins, manta rays, as already mentioned above, and of course other rays too, including the blue spotted ray.
You may also be lucky enough to see a banded sea krait or sea snake too. Plus this list of other sea creatures:
- Sharks in addition to those mentioned above include blacktip reef sharks,
- Broadclub cuttlefish.
- Seahorses and pipefish.
- Clown fish (Nemo).
- A whole host of coral fish including bennies, cow fish, scorpionfish, lion fish,
- Bumphead parrotfish.
- Moral eels.
Cederawasih Bay 2018 - with whale sharks
For the whale shark footage, jump to 3 minutes 10 seconds.
I hope you enjoyed this article about
affordable Indonesian Raja Ampat liveaboards
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or types of scuba diving (or specifically about affordable Indonesian Raja Ampat liveaboards), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.
Have fun and be safe!