Exploring Indonesia – Below the surface – Raja Ampat

Piaynem, need I say more!

Our journey to Raja will be a 3hr boat ride, 30 min bus ride, 2 flights, 6hr hotel rest, 1 more flight and then a 2hr boat ride! Thankfully all of us on this trip are seasoned travelers, many probably much more than myself. Some of the influencers on the trip have been traveling full-time constantly for years! It takes a special work ethic to make a living doing this! These guys and girls have worked super hard to live the life they love. I have grown out of my constant traveling days. I love to travel but being at home with my family is most important. Once my little ones get old enough my wife and I will start ramping up the adventures!

We arrive at Raja Ampat dive resort where would spend 4 nights. Our mini houses are right on the water. The tree tops tower the path along the edge of the sea. This place is home to birds of paradise among many other parrots and species of birds. You constantly hear them up in the trees but very hard to spot them. After a long travel day we jump into our first dive and then dinner, which is always throwing us new surprises.
Since I don’t have a lot of time to blog each day I will just give a broad over view of this leg. Pretty much everyday is a full on charge. We would be gone in the boats from 7:30-8 in the morning until nearly dark or after. Some days up to 3 dives! I was definitely getting great experience learning to dive. There were a few of us just learning. I really got the hang of it on this trip, but of course my left ear (which has kept me from diving the last 38 years) would always take forever to equalize. Thankfully I had the most patient dive buddies. For those that dive, to get down to 10 meters it would take me around 5-6 mins! Lol. Once I was down I was fine!
The reefs were amazing. This place is known for being one of the best places, if not the best for underwater diversity of fish. You name it I probably saw it. The large schools of jack, sweet lips, black tip and white tip sharks, wabegong sharks, turtles, starfish, napoleon rasse were just a few from one dive!

On day 2 and 3 we were able to also see some culture and locals performing traditional dance. The first event after a long day of diving was an ocean festival where hundreds of people gathered.  My favorite part where the little kids taking turn going around a makeshift circle track on tiny dirt bikes.  No shoes, helmets or parents!   We also went to an island called Arboreck where the village had a parade waiting for us. My favorite part was interacting with a 3 year, just like my little one at home, showing him my drone and how it flies. Blue Magic was my favorite dive with the diversity of fish along with Cape Kri with the huge schools of big fish along with everything else you could imagine. I also free dove this spot on the second dive.

Here is a highlight video!

One of the surprising things I found about all the locals and Indonesians on our trip was how much they smoked, before and after diving. I learned how important it was not to smoke in my dive training…lol
Our last day we would travel almost 2hrs by boat to Piaynem, probably the most famous pictures that you would see of Raja Ampat. There are little coned shaped islands surround by turquoise water. We all hiked to the top of the ridge to overlook the amazing formation. An amazing spot to fly a drone, which you can see from a few of my images. Following the hike (and swim) we would have lunch at a homestay, a local dock/place you can stay in the area. All our meals are locally prepared, which always included white rice as a base. The term spicy here is definitely relative to the region. Back in the states, if I referred to something as spicy the Indonesians would laugh at me. Our entertainment was under the docks in the shallow water where baby black tip sharks were roaming all over. A few of us got in the muck bottom to attempt a few photos. I really didn’t get much as the sharks could detect you and were not about to get close.

After lunch we would dive Melissa’s garden. Since I had to go very slowly to equalize I was stuck with the beginner dive group. The last dive I rejoined another group as the beginner group always has a problem. This time, because of visibility we didn’t see any of the other groups thus forcing me to surface with them. The dive was only 10 mins long. I was really bummed to miss most of this dive. Safety first though!
The next morning we would get up and have our bags out front by 7am to go. Since we hadn’t had much downtime I decided to go for a hike after finding out there was a road that meandered up into the jungle. It was like I was in Jurassic park! There were all kinds of bird noises high up in the tree tops. After all, this place is known for the diversity of bird species. I heard owls, parrots and all kinds of other noises. The trees were so high! The highlight was a white cockatoo that flew into a tree above my head!
Our 2hr boat ride back to the main island seemed a lot quicker this time. Our next leg of the trip is Komodo National park onboard a large sailboat. It will be almost 2 days of traveling before we arrive. I am now onto my third time being sick on the trip. The latest is a sinus which might keep me from diving unless it gets better.