A Raja Ampat to Triton Bay liveaboard is one of Indonesia’s great diving adventures. Here’s what to expect from a 10 day trip.
Hidy through the corals, Lighthouse, Palau Pisang © Chris Mitchell
This was not the first time I’d done a Raja Ampat to Triton Bay liveaboard trip. My first time was back in 2008; it was my first time both in Raja Ampat and Triton and it was unsurprisingly jaw dropping. So, 9 years on, I was curious to see if I’d still feel the same excitement repeating the journey. The answer is emphatically yes.
While Raja Ampat has become distinctly more popular in the last decade, with 40 liveaboards now licensed in the area and several resorts, the reefs are still thriving, which is all the more heartening given the grim state of Great Barrier Reef and other reef systems. True, there is definitely signs of wear and tear in some areas like the iconic Boo Windows but in general, Raja Ampat remains magical underwater.
Triton Bay also proved to be a worthy complement to Raja’s more explored sites, and the long sail to get there definitely worth it. Triton’s remoteness means it’s still relatively quiet, with only one resort and a handful of boats visiting at any given time.
Northern Raja Ampat – Kri
Seasnake in front of bommie, Citrus Ridge, Raja Ampat © Chris Mitchell
Around Kri and neighbouring Mansuar islands are a plethora of Raja Ampat’s most famous sites – Blue Magic, Mayhem, Mioskon. The home of Sorido resort, the original Raja diving outpost pioneered by Max Ammer, Kri and Mansuar now have numerous other diving resorts. This is due in part to it being the nearest major dive area to Sorong, which is Raja’s major city and the airport where almost all visitors arrive and depart.
During this trip, Citrus Ridge was a real stand-out – a super rich coral garden with stacks of table corals that double as cleaning stations. The reef is also perfect hunting grounds for big sea snakes who are not shy around divers.
One of my all-time favourite sites is Melissa’s Garden, named after Max Ammer’s daughter. It is a huge, shallow plateau of corals that create hundreds of hideyholes to make it the perfect nursery. Juvenile blacktip sharks skim over the reef while huge schools of barracuda can often be seen out in the blue.
A couple hours’ sail from Kri is Pulau Penem, which is the location of the lookout point from which you can see the iconic view of Raja Ampat’s islands, as immortalised in a thousand tourist brochure photos.
Southern Raja Ampat – Misool
Bommie, Four Kings, Raja Ampat © Chris Mitchell
After an overnight sail we reached Misool, a big area with hundreds of sites in it. It’s also home to the Misool Eco Resort, which helps organise the quite heavy liveaboard traffic to a couple of the most popular sites – Magic Mountain and Boo Windows.
Hundreds of fusiliers, Magic Mountain, Raja Ampat © Chris Mitchell
Magic Mountain is revered not just as a manta ray hotspot but as a gorgeous site in its own right, whether or not the mantas turn up – a big flat plateau at 15 metres densely covered in reef with steep drop-offs to walls of soft corals and hordes of fish skittering around one another make for an electric atmosphere.
The four pinnacles of Four Kings is equally dramatic, with the corals crusted near the top of the pinnacles dropping down into a wide, almost amphitheatre curve and the hope of seeing mantas at a cleaning station at the furthest pinnacle.
Palau Pisang and Momon
It’s an overnight and day long sail to get from Misool to Triton Bay and the main areas to break up the transition are Palau Pisang (Banana Island) and Momon. Pisang is quite quiet but has some gorgeous large elephant ear corals, whereas Momon has some rarely dived seamounts.
Plateau of coral, Momon © Chris Mitchell
While they are not necessarily superlative dives for Raja, they’re definitely enough to keep the troops happy before serving up the next main attraction.
I had vague memories of the viz being terrible from my first Triton Bay visit due to the nutrient-rich waters – but this time around it was spectacular! The dive site Dramai was a particular favourite with its dramatic arch, along with Little Komodo whose shallow waters made for some stunning natural light effects. I was so impressed I wrote a separate page about our diving at Triton Bay
Triton Bay Whale Sharks
One huge surprise while in Triton Bay was discovering that there was a resident population of whale sharks. As in Cenderawasih Bay, local fishermen fish from floating platforms called bagans with nets suspended underneath. These attract whale sharks which hoover the water outside the nets for an easy meal. I wrote up a separate page about the Triton Bay whale sharks too.
Diving Raja Ampat: The Practicalities
If you’re interested in planning your own trip to dive Raja Ampat, please see Diving Raja Ampat: A Quick Guide which provides hopefully useful tips about diving, trip planning, flights and so on – everything to make your trip as hassle-free as possible. You may also be interested in my podcasts on Diving Raja Ampat, Diving Triton Bay and Misool Eco Resort.
Raja Ampat to Triton Bay Liveaboard Complete Dive Site List
Here’s the complete list of sites we dived, as kindly provided by our liveaboard, MSY Damai.
|#||DATE||SITE NAME||SITE AREA||GPS POINT||TERRAIN|
|1||5-Mar||Mioskon||Mioskon||00'29.840 S||130'43.627 E||Sloping Reef|
|2||5-Mar||Blue Magic||Kri||00'30.414 S||130'44.290 E||Seamount|
|3||5-Mar||Cape Kri||Kri||00'33.391 S||130'41.417 E||Sloping Reef|
|4||5-Mar||Yenbouba||Mansuar||00'34.118 S||130'39.736 E||Sloping Reef|
|5||6-Mar||Citrus Ridge||Yangeffo||00'30.646 S||130'27.348 E||Sloping Reef|
|6||6-Mar||Mayhem||Yangeffo||00'30.777 S||130'26.716 E||Seamount|
|7||6-Mar||Melissa's Garden||Penemu||00'35.390 S||130'18.909 E||Reef|
|8||6-Mar||View Point & Lagoon||Penemu||00'33.625 S||130'16.481 E||Hike|
|9||7-Mar||3 Sisters||Farondi||02'00.170 S||130'38.376 E||Wall|
|10||7-Mar||Blue Hole||Farondi||02'12.659 S||130'16.813 E||Tunnel|
|11||7-Mar||Boo Windows||Fiabacet||02'13.295 S||130'36.700 E||Sloping Reef|
|12||7-Mar||Yelliet Besar||Fiabacet||02'11.904 S||130'35.381 E||Night dive|
|13||8-Mar||Neptune Fan See||Wayilbatan||02'13.037 S||130'27.007 E||Channel|
|14||8-Mar||4 Kings||Wayilbatan||02'12.506 S||130'22.673 E||Pinnacle|
|15||8-Mar||Magic Mountain||Warakaraket||02'15.557 S||130'38.878 E||Seamount|
|16||9-Mar||T Bone||Pulau Pisang||02'40.391 S||131'37.343 E||Seamount|
|17||9-Mar||Lighthouse||Pulau Pisang||02'37.379 S||131'40.054 E||Boulders|
|18||9-Mar||Lighthouse||Pulau Pisang||02'37.379 S||131'40.054 E||Boulders|
|19||10-Mar||Batu Cantik||Momon||03'56.492 S||132'48.229 E||Sloping Reef|
|20||10-Mar||Tanjung Wap||Momon||03'57.650 S||132'48.396 E||Sloping Reef|
|22||11-Mar||Batu Tiga||Triton Bay||03'54.530 S||134'04.752 E||Wall|
|23||11-Mar||David Rock||Triton Bay||03'54.350 S||134'07.852 E||Sloping Reef|
|24||11-Mar||Little Komodo||Triton Bay||03'54.986 S||134'06.184 E||Sloping Reef|
|25||11-Mar||Aiduma Bay||Triton Bay||03'55.247 S||134'06.383 E||Sloping Reef|
|26||12-Mar||Dramai||Triton Bay||04'02.308 S||134'13.922 E||Boulders|
|27||12-Mar||Dramai||Triton Bay||04'02.308 S||134'13.922 E||Boulders|
|28||12-Mar||Tim Rock||Triton Bay||04'00.815 S||134'12.186 E||Sloping Reef|
|29||12-Mar||Tim Rock||Triton Bay||04'00.815 S||134'12.186 E||Sloping Reef|
|30||13-Mar||Whalesharks||Triton Bay||03'44.695 S||133'54.406 E||Bagan|
|31||13-Mar||Namanote Wall||Triton Bay||03'52.326 S||133'55.549 E||Wall|
|32||13-Mar||White Rock Falls||Triton Bay||03'53.432 S||134'06.618 E||Boulders|
|33||13-Mar||Aiduma Bay||Triton Bay||03'55.247 S||134'06.383 E||Sloping Reef|
|34||14-Mar||Little Komodo||Triton Bay||03'54.986 S||134'06.184 E||Sloping Reef|
|35||14-Mar||Little Komodo||Triton Bay||03'54.986 S||134'06.184 E||Sloping Reef|
|36||14-Mar||David Rock||Triton Bay||03'54.350 S||134'07.852 E||Sloping Reef|