If someone recommended that you dive in Raja Ampat, they probably told you two things about the idyllic diving destination . First, that you must go--the pristine state of the coral and abundance of marine life is staggering. Second, beware of the strong currents.
It's true. Raja Ampat's underwater world is incredible. And there are strong currents running through the Dampier Strait and the other channels that wind through the 1.300 islands of the Raja Ampat Archipelago. These strong currents are not to be taken lightly. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be a dive professional with 200 dives under your belt to explore the underwater world of Raja Ampat. In fact, we take divers who had never before put on a pair of fins in their life diving along the magical reefs of Raja Ampat. The key to diving safely as a beginner in Raja Ampat is diving with an operator who plans accordingly and prioritizes safety. If you’re a novice diver hoping to dive in Raja Ampat, make sure the diving operator you choose adheres to some very important rules.
One of the easiest ways to have a bad dive is to jump at the wrong dive site at the wrong time. There are four tidal changes daily in Raja Ampat, and these changes take place at different times everyday. The tides affect the currents immensely. Also, the moon cycle has a significant influence on how drastic tidal changes are. Consequently, during times near full moon or new moon the current is stronger.
While creating our dive plan, we start by monitoring the moon, tide charts and currents of that week. We also have expert knowledge of the underwater topography of each dive site, which is essential in planning a dive schedule. This is because our knowledgeable dive guides are able to determine which point at each site is the safest and best place to jump in depending on what the current is doing. They also know how to navigate a dive site in accordance with the current, and choose the best place to do a safety stop and finish up a dive. We carefully consider all of these factors to ensure our divers have an enjoyable dive experience.
Upholding High Standards
Not every diver is equipped with the training and experience necessary to dive in strong current. This is why we like to take divers, especially those with less experience, to sites that are calm for their first dive with us. Groups are organized with a maximum of four divers per dive guide. Open water divers are placed in one group and advanced divers are placed in another. Divers who haven’t dived in more than one year should do a refresh dive. It is very important to be refreshed on skills, even ones you may consider basic but are fundamental in diving properly, such as clearing your mask and maintaining neutral buoyancy.
We don’t cut corners with our diving operations. We always deliver thorough briefings before each dive and require divers to do buddy checks before jumping in the water. We respect the maximum limit of each diver’s certification level--18 meters maximum for open water divers and 30 meters for advanced open water divers. We have as strict rule that none of our dive guides or divers with their own computer go over the non decompression limit. Lastly, all of our diving equipment is regularly serviced and in great condition.
Preparing to Dive in Paradise
If you’re interested in learning how to dive in Raja Ampat you could try a discovery dive or do the open water course. We’ve conducted many open water courses in Raja Ampat and all of our students were grateful to start their diving journey in perhaps the best diving destination in the world. We take our discovery divers and open water students to calm sites with little to no current but plenty of spectacular coral and marine life to see. As an open water student improves, and if he or she desires, we can go to sites with current that’s a bit more challenging.
Don’t let your fear of current prevent you from diving in Raja Ampat. We only take divers in current they're prepared for. However, we encourage divers who are open to trying new things to learn techniques for diving safely in current.
Current diving can be a fun and exciting experience. If you’re interested in taking your current diving skills to the next level we recommend taking the advanced open water course with us. The course allows you to do five adventure dives, each one focusing on a different diving skill or technique such as current diving. Reach out to us today to schedule your course!