Since we have been diving for a long time in Raja Ampat, people always ask us what is our favorite dive site. We hence compile the answers to offer you the list of the Soul scuba team’s favorite dive sites:
Thibault - Owner and Instructor - Mike’s point
Mike’s point is my favorite dive site because it is the most challenging to plan. If you drop at the wrong time it can be a hell-dive but if you planned it perfectly, you can enjoy an amazing topography and diverse sea life, with a good visibility, nice light and pleasant current. This is for me the most complete dive site because it has a beautiful coral garden from 2 to 5m, some rock formations with overhangs and canyon, a shark cave, swimthroughs and pinnacles. It has great soft and hard corals, and all along the dive you will have a complete overview of the species Raja Ampat can offer. On the sides where the current is strong you will see schools of fishes gathering where as looking closely at the sea fans, you will find Pygmy sea horses. Finally, the rocky area offers a lot of hiding places for nudibranches or scorpionfishes and in the shallower part sharks and turtles are often seen. This is for sure an advanced dive site that needs good planning but it is very rewarding.
Annie - Manager and Instructor - Soul scuba reef
It might sounds a bit silly but my favorite dive site is just at the end of our jetty. It is suitable for every level, the visibility is always good because there is a continuous flow passing by. At 25m on the sandy area we have a resident wobegong, giant stingray laying at the bottom and you can find Pygmy seahorses on sea fans. When you make your way up, you see an amazing variation of corals full of fishes, nudibranches and macro. You will also for sure meet the resident turtle and maybe see a cuttlefish or an octopus. From the jetty we often see dolphin fins cutting the sea so there is also always hope to meet them or to have a special encounter like a manta or a dugong that have already been spotted in the area. As a night dive lover I get even more excited at night as the macro becomes exponential. You might also find a stargazer, poptail squids, a basket star and I can almost guarantee our divers that they will see walking sharks (Raja Épaulette sharks).
Fatur - Instructor - Chicken Reef
I love Chicken Reef because it doesn’t matter at what time and from where you enter the place, it’s always nice. It’s always full of schools of barracudas, surgeon fishes, rainbow runners and you have a lot of redtooth trigger fishes messing around. You might also be lucky and find a grey reef shark, an eagle ray or some tunas passing by. The number of fishes everywhere and the surprising encounters doesn’t make it all. The coral is also colorful and beautiful! If you are patient you can look on a sea fan and find Pygmy seahorses. However, I am still looking for the chickenfishes or the underwater ayam penyet warung (local canteen selling fried chicken) to explain the name of the dive site *
Teddy, Auyp - Dive guide - Cape Kri
Yopi likes Cape Kri because it is always full of fishes, no matter the day, the tide or the time. It is also suitable for every level. Valdo adds that besides the school of fishes it is also full of macro and bigger stuff like sharks, giant groupers or Napoleon wrasses. It is swarming from the schools of sweetlips on the sandy bottom at 38 m to the coral garden on the top in the shallow part. At the tip you have all the barracudas gathering and you can look in the blue to see passing big animals or be close to the reef and find small, colorful nudibranches, Pygmy seahorses or banded pipefishes. It doesn’t come from nowhere that this dive site was awarded the most diverse dive site in the world to have recorded over 370 different species in a one hour dive.
Darwis - Dive guide - Sawandarek
I like all of them but if I have to choose one I will go for Sawandarek because it is one of the few dive sites where you don’t have strong current. It is more relax, more quiet but it doesn’t mean there is nothing to see! It is always full of fishes not like other places where there is no current. At the bottom on the wonderful cabbage coral there are always many sweetlips gathering and garden eels on the side. On the way up you will find schools of barracudas and jackfishes. This is also one of the few places I can guarantee the divers that they will see turtles. And not any turtle! Giant green turtles. Every time we go back to the surface the people say « I have never seen such a big turtle ». But that’s not it, Sawandarek also has good macro, stingrays and close to the jetty there are always sharks and batfishes. You can also look for a clam that is so big that most of the time the divers don’t believe it and need a little time to realise what it is!
Ben - Dive guide - Sardines Reef
I would give the same answer than Darwis and say that I like all the dive sites. However, on my first week here, I dove Sardines Reef and it was magical! I had this wow moment and every time I dive there, it was at the same level. I have never been disappointed with Sardines Reef. Like a first love, it’s not rational, you never forget it and I always have a small pincement au cœur when know I am going to dive on this site. What I love about it is that you have no break. You have of course schools of fishes everywhere: barracudas, sweetlips and jackfishes amongst others. At the bottom you have a small cave where there is often a sleeping shark. You can also find wobegong shark, moray eels, turtles and almost every time black and white tip sharks. On many dive sites, the fishes gather at the tip of the reef. Here it never stops, it is full all along the dive. If you try to have your mind rest from this firework and you look at the reef, you’ll find amazing corals, a hole with an octopus or lobster inside. There is also a lot of macro from nudibranches to pipefishes, crabs and shrimps. At Sardines Reef there is always something happening, so you better be ready!
Harnex - Dive guide - Pasir Timbul
I love eagle rays and Pasir Timbul offers a high probability to see them, so this is my favorite dive site! Most of the time the visibility is also amazing and you can really appreciate the colors of the corals. Depending on the current you can start from Pasir Timbul or Koh Island. During the first part of the dive you follow the reef but this can be challenging as the direction of the current is constantly changing. Around 25 m you have a few little caves where animals like to hide and all along the reef you have both soft and hard corals. Don’t forget to look in the blue and spot my favorite animal! Then, in the middle of the dive, you can enter a kind of lagoon and get some rest from the current. This place is amazing for macro with nudibranches, pygmy seahorses and you can also sometimes find an octopus hiding in the dead coral. The dive can be ended in the lagoon or by coming back along the reef. Close to Koh Island, I can almost guarantee that you are going to see sharks! Fun fact about the name, it means literally « sand bank » and this place is a favorite place for surface intervalles.
*The dive site was actually named Chicken Reef because one customer saw a shark, hide and took his dive knife in his hand, following his survival instinct. When the dive guide looked behind his shoulder and saw the situation he laughed and said the guy chickened out for a small black tip shark. Hence the name!