How To Plan Your Raja Ampat Trip?
Planning a scuba diving trip to Raja Ampat, the crown jewel of Indonesia's underwater wonders, is an exciting endeavor. With its rich marine biodiversity, stunning coral reefs, and vibrant marine life, Raja Ampat is a dream destination for diving enthusiasts. In this comprehensive travel planner, we will guide you through the best times to visit Raja Ampat and highlight why our dive center is the perfect choice for your year-round dive adventure.
In Soul Scuba divers we pride ourselves on offering exceptional dive experiences in Raja Ampat. Our team of experienced dive instructors and guides, which are passionate about the beauty of Raja Ampat's underwater paradise. With our extensive knowledge of the local dive sites, we ensure that you have access to the best locations and dive conditions, maximizing your chances of encountering breathtaking marine life.
When is the best time to visit Raja Ampat?
In Soul scuba divers we dive all year round, one of the remarkable aspects of Raja Ampat is its suitability for diving throughout the year. Unlike many other dive destinations that have specific dive seasons, Raja Ampat's diverse underwater ecosystems ensure that there is always something extraordinary to explore regardless of the time of year.
October to April;
From October to April, you can expect excellent visibility ranging from 20 to 30 meters, making it ideal for underwater photography and encounters with majestic manta rays and vibrant coral reefs. During this period currents bring plankton blooms into the area and this attracts filter feeders like Manta Rays and Mobula rays.
Raja Ampat is renowned for its encounters with graceful manta rays. These magnificent creatures are often spotted in greater numbers. Diving enthusiasts have the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing spectacle of these gentle giants gliding effortlessly through the water. Interacting with these majestic creatures, observing their graceful movements, and witnessing their feeding behaviors is an unforgettable experience for any diver.
May to September:
In fact, this season offers its own unique charm with visibility up to 50 meters, the crystal-clear waters allow divers to fully appreciate the stunning coral reefs, vibrant marine life, and intricate underwater landscapes.
This season brings occasional rain showers and slightly rougher seas, but it doesn't dampen the diving experience in Raja Ampat. In Fact this increase in schooling fish. Massive schools of barracuda, trevally, fusiliers, and other species congregate in the vibrant coral reefs, creating breathtaking underwater spectacles. Rain showers increase the oxygen and strengthen the nutrition at the surface which makes dive sites fishier.
Sive sites are less busy, and divers can enjoy longer and uninterrupted dives, maximizing their time underwater and exploring the numerous dive sites that Raja Ampat has to offer.
Best time for Manta Rays in Raja Ampat?
If you like to witness the gigantic Manta Rays best time to visit is from October to May. Last year we already start to see them in August. If you are super like you can witness them during the year. Manta rays are present in Raja Ampat throughout the year, but during the winter months, you have better opportunities to witness these magnificent creatures up close and in bigger numbers.
Manta rays are attracted to cleaning stations during this period, where small fish and cleaner fish remove parasites from their bodies. They also have more food around from plankton bloom which is greater during this time of the year. Divers can observe this fascinating behavior and marvel at the graceful movements of these majestic creatures.
The months of December to February coincide with the manta ray mating season in Raja Ampat. During this time, male and female mantas gather in greater numbers for courtship rituals and mating dances. Witnessing these displays of grace and beauty is an extraordinary experience.
Want to avoid the tourist season?
If you want to void the tourist season and enjoy the area with fewer people, best to come from May to October when we have the best visibility. One advantage of visiting Raja Ampat during this season is that there are generally fewer tourists compared to the peak season (October - May). With fewer crowds, you can enjoy a more intimate diving experience, with less competition for dive sites and more opportunities to fully immerse yourself in the underwater wonders of Raja Ampat.
Read more from our previous blog post “We Dive All Year Around”
What is the weather like in Raja Ampat?
The weather in Raja Ampat is tropical and it has beautiful warm temporaries all year around. You can expect average temperatures range from 25°C to 35°C.
Raja Ampat is located near the equator and it means sudden and localized weather changes, so be prepared for brief rain showers even during the dry season, so best to pack a hoodie and rain/windproof jacket with you. It might look cloudy and rainy in the early morning when you wake up, and when you arrive at the dive sites, it is the sunniest sky there can be.
It's worth noting that weather patterns can vary from year to year, and climate change can influence local weather conditions.
How long should I plan to stay in Raja Ampat?
You can easily spend one month in Raja Ampat, Raja Ampat offers more than 1000 islands.
If you want to stay in one spot and you don't have that much time, on Kri Island and with Soul scuba divers, you are able to see other islands with our Adventure trips.
What are the top 3 attractions in Raja Ampat?
The most famous trip we organize is Piaynemo, this trip is on every traveler's bucket list when they visit Raja Ampat. Raja Ampat, an archipelago of stunning islands in Indonesia, is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. Among its many treasures, Piaynemo stands out as a must-visit destination within Raja Ampat.
Two dives around Fam islands, one of the dive sites we visit is sure famous Melissa’s Garden, and the second dive site depends on the currents and what kind of creatures our divers are seeking to see. The surrounding waters are teeming with diverse marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and crystal-clear waters, explore vibrant underwater ecosystems, and witness the incredible biodiversity that Raja Ampat is known for.
The highlight of the Piaynemo adventure is the hike to the viewpoint. It involves ascending a set of wooden stairs built into the side of a limestone cliff. As you climb higher, the stunning landscape unfolds before your eyes, revealing a breathtaking panorama of small, mushroom-shaped islets scattered across the turquoise waters. We always visit the viewpoint of Piaynemo which is perfect for drone footage and group pictures.
2. Manta Rays
From October to May we have Manta lovers coming to the islands to witness these gigantic underwater creatures. Divers can witness the mesmerizing sight of these graceful creatures circling around the cleaning station, showcasing their impressive wingspans as they glide through the water.
If you are lucky you can see Reef Manta rays all year long. Gigantic Oceanic Manta Rays come here normally the first week of the Year, so the best time for these creatures is early in the year.
Most famous dive spots to see Manta rays are;
Manta sandy - Suitable for beginner levels
Manta Sandy is a dive site in Raja Ampat that offers excellent opportunities to encounter manta rays. Located in the Dampier Strait, this site is famous for its cleaning station, where manta rays gather to have parasites removed by cleaner fish. As the name tells, the dive site has a sandy bottom where divers can look into macro while waiting for Manta rays to closer to the cleaning station. The sandy bottom provides a beautiful backdrop for capturing stunning photos of these magnificent creatures. There is a marked area in which divers need to pay a tension not to access to Manta cleaning station area. We want to give Manta Rays space and peace during their Spa treatment.
Manta Ridge - Suitable for advanced divers who are comfortable with strong currents
Manta Ridge, located near Mansuar Island, is another popular dive site for manta ray encounters in Raja Ampat. It is a sloping reef with a shallow ridge where mantas congregate. Divers often encounter numerous mantas gracefully hovering above the ridge as they get cleaned by cleaner fish. The visibility at Manta Ridge is typically excellent, allowing divers to observe the elegant movements of these majestic creatures up close. The site also boasts vibrant coral formations and an abundance of marine life, making it a truly immersive and memorable diving experience.
On this dive, you will do a fast descent, and drift near to the cleaning station and the guides will help you to hook in the right position to enjoy the Mantas. Currents are normally strong and we want to know the divers who we will take to the Manta ridge. Not a dive site for the first day. You will be given a long briefing on how to behave and act in the Manta cleaning station. We don't chase the Manta, No flashlight while taking photos, and no touching (from time to time Manta Rays come and give you a slap in your face or you can feel them that close behind you that they touch your head).
3. Wayag - Snorkelling trip
Wayag is the most remote area where we offer Adventure trips, located in the northwest part of Raja Ampat, and is often referred to as the crown jewel of the region. Wayag, a collection of stunning islands nestled within the Raja Ampat archipelago, is a true gem waiting to be explored. This trip is an incredible experience for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Wayag is famous for its iconic karst islands, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and breathtaking viewpoints.
We offer two day one night trip to Wayag,
This is a truly immersive experience, consider camping on one of the uninhabited islands in Wayag. Sleeping under the stars, enjoying a beach bonfire, and waking up to the sounds of nature can be an unforgettable adventure. We provide tents and hammocks for sleeping (the best way to enjoy nature by sleeping in the hammock).
We do island hopping to different islands across the area of Wayag, forming a unique and mesmerizing landscape. You can visit different islands, swim in pristine lagoons, and relax on white sandy beaches.
Read more about our "Adventure Trips"
What is the cost of visiting Raja Ampat?
The cost of visiting Raja Ampat can vary depending on various factors such as the duration of your stay, accommodation choices, transportation, activities, and personal preferences.
Getting to Raja Ampat usually involves multiple flights and boat transfers. International travelers typically fly into Jakarta or Bali and then take domestic flights to Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat. Flight prices can vary depending on the time of booking and the airline, but it's advisable to budget at least a few hundred euros for domestic flights.
Boat transfers from Sorong to Waisai can be done by ferry which runs every day, twice a day, 9 AM and 2 PM. (if you’re traveling on a public holiday there could be delays or cancellations--but normally this is not the case. ) The cost is normally 125,000 IDR.
Waisai to Kri Island is organized by your homestay and the cost is normally 800,000 IDR, you can share this cost with other travelers. Between the islands when swopping islands, depending on the distance and type of boat/engines they use, normally from 600,000 IDR to 2,000,000 IDR.
National Park Fees, As Raja Ampat is a designated marine protected area, visitors are required to pay entrance fees. These fees help support conservation efforts and community development in the region. The fee for foreign visitors is 1,000,000 IDR and it is valid for one year.
300,000IDR you will pay in a harbor for the tourist info center and this is your entry permit.
700,000IDR is for your Marine card which you can apply by yourself or ask Soul scuba divers to help you with the application. We pay for the Marine cards and you can collect them in the National Park office when you arrive in Waisai. They will send us a picture of your card which is also valid around Raja Ampat. If you wish to have the card as a souvenir Anton from the tourist info center can help you to the office. It is 20 min walk away from the harbor.
Here is information for the Marine card if you wish to do it by yourself.
Nana blud +62 852-4302-2825
Yoan +62 821-9845-0540
Accommodation, In Kri Island there are many homestays near our dive center, budget-friendly options such as homestays and, guesthouses are generally more affordable, with prices typically ranging from 450,000 IDR to per night per person, including meals.
more about this topic in the next section.
Scuba diving prices you can look at from here.
Prices difference which kind of dive trips you wish to do. The more you do cheaper it gets, we also have a 100,000IDR discount for people with their own gear (must include BCD and regulator).
Are there any budget accommodations in Kri Island, Raja Ampat?
Homestays are a popular and economical choice for accommodation in Raja Ampat. They offer a unique opportunity to stay with local families and immerse yourself in the local culture. Homestays on Kri Island typically provide basic amenities, such as over-the-water rooms, communal bathrooms, and common areas for dining and socializing. They often include meals in the package, allowing you to savor the local cuisine. It's important to note that budget accommodations in Raja Ampat may have limited availability and often require early booking.
The price range is from 450,000 IDR - 800,000IDR per person.
Stay Raja Ampat is a very good website to look for accommodation ideas, the cheapest is to contact homestays directly.
When diving with Soul scuba divers, choose a homestay or guesthouse without their own scuba diving facilities. We aren’t allowed to take customers from dive resorts or homestays that have their own dive centers.
We recommend Yenbuba homestay which is the closest homestay to us. This is a little bit more expensive than other homestays on the same beach, they offer good quality bed comfortable big overwater bungalows, and beach bungalows with their own showers and toilets.
Other homestays on the same beach are Kri Guest House, Raja Ampat Bungalows, Raimond Raja Ampar, Nus, and Junior Homestay.
What makes Raja Ampat a popular scuba diving destination?
Whether you are a beginner diver or an experienced diver, Raja Ampat provides optimal conditions for exploring the breathtaking marine biodiversity that makes Raja Ampat a must-visit destination for scuba diving enthusiasts.
Raja Ampat is known for its incredible marine biodiversity and is considered one of the best diving destinations in the world. Located in the Coral Triangle in Indonesia, Raja Ampat boasts a rich and diverse marine ecosystem with a stunning array of marine life
Raja Ampat is home to some of the most pristine and vibrant coral reefs on the planet. You can find a vast array of hard and soft corals, creating a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. The reefs support an abundance of marine life, serving as nurseries and feeding grounds for many species.
Raja Ampat is a scuba diver's haven, and with our year-round availability and exceptional dive services, your underwater adventure is just a step away. Raja Ampat promises an unforgettable experience. Get ready to discover the wonders that await beneath the surface of this tropical paradise.
What marine life can I expect to see while scuba diving in Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat is famous for its population of majestic manta rays. Divers have the opportunity to encounter these graceful creatures, especially around cleaning stations where they come to have parasites removed by cleaner fish. Manta rays can have impressive wingspans reaching up to 7 meters. The best time to see Manta Rays is from October to May.
Various shark species can be found in Raja Ampat, including blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, and grey reef sharks. You can dive site sharks all year round. The best time to see some pelagic species are from May to October.
Read more about Scuba Diving with Shark in Raja Ampat from our previous blogs post.
Raja Ampat's waters are frequented by several species of dolphins and whales. Divers and snorkelers may have the chance to witness pods of dolphins riding the bow waves or encounter larger marine mammals like dugongs, dolphins, or pilot whales. It is amazing to witness these mammals while traveling to different dive sites around Raja Ampat.
Raja Ampat is renowned for its variety of pygmy seahorses, including the famous Bargibanti and Denise species. These tiny seahorses, measuring only a few centimeters, showcase incredible camouflaging abilities and are a delight to find during dives. While Raja Ampat is known for its stunning coral reefs and diverse marine life, it also offers fantastic opportunities for macro photography and diving enthusiasts. Raja Ampat is an excellent destination for macro diving.
Here you can find more information about logistics
What is the visibility like for scuba diving in Raja Ampat?
During the Manta season October-May we have a big plankton flow coming into the area which brings the filter feeders like manta rays and mobula rays to our waters. This effect a bit in the visibility but it is still up to 20 meters.
If you seeking crystal clear waters best time to come is during May-October when our visibility goes up to 40 meters. This time you will witness more pelagic sharks who like to visit some of our dive sites. Sharks being more shy with bubbles you can see them from far away easily.
What are the best diving spots in Raja Ampat?
In general, every dive site we plan is as good as others, the key for the dive site planning is the timing. Most of the time you will not know weeks before the planning since we do dive planning one night before, with the dive guides based on tides and people level to handle currents.
You can enjoy each dive site if you trust our local knowledge of making the best plan for you. The best dive and Raja Ampat experience you will have when you don't dive the names of the dive sites.
The most common belief is “travel far away to see the best stuff”, Soul scuba divers are based in the Central of Raja Ampat on Kri Island which offers the most famous dive sites just minutes away from the dive center. If you want to have a good idea of what Raja Ampat has to offer, best to stay at least 2 weeks. Read our previous blog post “Two Weeks Stay in Raja Ampat”
The most famous dive sites are Cape Kri, Melissa’s Garden, Blue Magic (Bubble tragic during October-May), and Manta Ridge during the Manta season.
How do you plan the dive spots?
Some dive sites in Raja Ampat are more sheltered and provide better conditions when there are more currents and occasional rough seas. Experienced dive centers, like ours, have extensive knowledge of the local conditions and will choose dive sites that offer the best visibility and diving experience during this time. Our guides will ensure your safety and make informed decisions to optimize your dives.
Raja Ampat has a selection of dive sites suitable for divers of all levels. From gentle sloping reefs to exhilarating drift dives and underwater pinnacles, there is something for everyone.
Trusting our local knowledge and our dive site planning each diver will enjoy their stay and will have the Raja Ampat experience that everyone is talking about. Each dive site offers a unique experience, promising unforgettable encounters with marine life and captivating underwater landscapes. Trust our planning what we have planned for you and you will have time of your life.
Can beginners scuba dive in Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat is suitable also for Open water divers, since not all of the dive sites are deep, and fishes like to play in shallower water.
Currents are which make Raja Ampat a more advanced dive destination but with our professional staff, you will be able to gain your skills and enjoy more challenging dive sites when you trust our knowledge of where to take you for the first days. We offer SSI courses for people who wish to continue their education to the next level.
Some dive sites in Raja Ampat may have challenging conditions, strong currents, or deeper depths, which may require higher certification levels or additional experience.
Read more in our previous blog post “Beginners Can Dive Raja Ampat”
Open Water Diver Course In Raja Ampat
The course begins with the online theory portion, through the online learning module you can start your studies before you arrive at Raja Ampat (recommended). You will learn about the basic principles of scuba diving, including dive equipment, dive planning, dive physics, and dive safety. This knowledge development phase lays the foundation for safe and enjoyable diving.
After completing the theory portion, you will progress to confined water training. In a controlled environment, in a natural lagoon 5 min away from Soul Scuba Divers Dive Center, you will practice essential scuba skills under the guidance of our certified dive instructor. These skills include breathing underwater, clearing your mask, recovering a lost regulator, and other important techniques to ensure your safety and comfort in the water.
The next phase of the course involves a series of open water dives in the breathtaking dive sites of Raja Ampat. You will typically complete a minimum of four open water dives, each showcasing different aspects of diving and gradually building your confidence and skills. Under the supervision of your instructor, you will apply what you learned in the confined water sessions to real-life diving scenarios. During the open-water dives, you will explore the vibrant coral reefs, encounter marine life, and further refine your diving abilities.
Upon successful completion of the theory, confined water training, open water dives and final exam, you will receive your SSI Open Water Diver certification. This certification is recognized worldwide and allows you to dive up to a maximum depth of 18 meters with a certified buddy.
If you aren’t sure if scuba diving is your thing, you can try diving with Soul scuba divers and complete the course after your first underwater experience.
Are there any specific dive certifications required for diving in Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat offers a diverse range of diving experiences, including drift diving, deep diving, and underwater photography opportunities. Raja Ampat region has currents all year around, and it is a good location to learn to dive with strong currents. Depending on your interests, it may be beneficial to have specialty certifications such as Drift Diver, Deep Diver, or Underwater Photographer certifications to fully enjoy and explore the unique aspects of diving in Raja Ampat.
For Adventure trips like Piaynemo, you need to be a minimum of Open Water Diver. You can also do your SSI Open Water course with us during your stay and do the Piaynemo trip after you have finished your course.
Adventure trip to Batanta you want to be an Advanced Open Water Diver or have completed a Deep Diver specialty. The famous airplane wreck lies in 30 meters and you don't want to miss that one out.
Some other dive sites in Raja Ampat may have deeper depths and stronger currents, which require a higher level of experience and training. Having an Advanced Open Water Diver certification or an equivalent certification is often recommended for diving in more challenging conditions. The Advanced Open Water Diver certification typically involves completing additional dives and specialized training beyond the Open Water Diver level.