South West of WA

Sipidan

Iceland

Lombok

Bunaken & Lembeh

Scapa Flow

Lake Baikal

Komodo Island

Pulau Weh

South Africa

HMS Hermes

Ambon & Banda Islands

SS President Coolidge

Murion Islands

Cuba

Norway

Wakatobi & Raja Ampat

Truk Lagoon

Maldives

Philippines

More Dive Trips

BUDGET DIVING AT WAKATOBI AND RAJA AMPAT, INDONESIA by Andrew Falconer

 

Wakatobi and Raja Ampat are two of the best known and remote dive locations in Indonesia, where diving from resorts or live aboard boats make it an expensive trip. However, if you donít mind basic homestay accommodation, they can both be done on a budget, as I recently did:

 

Wakatobi

 

Wakatobi is the name of a group of islands off the south eastern corner of Sulawesi, Indonesia and is declared a marine national park.

 

location of wakatobi Hoga island

the homestay on Hoga island

 

 

Getting there involves a daily flight from Makassar via Kendari to Wangiwangi island (note there is a 10kg baggage allowance).

 

 

the exclusive dive boat waiting on the beach

sunset at Wakatobi Hoga island

 

 

From the airport, a taxi will take you to the town of Wanci, where there is a daily fast ferry to Keladupa island, where a boat from the homestay (called Wakatobi Hoga Diving) www.hogaislanddiveresort.com will pick you up to take you across to adjacent Hoga island.



Steep drop offs, sub sea pinnacles, nice corals and reef creatures are a feature at Hoga island



The homestay has several beachside bungalows, provides meals and boat diving to nearby dive spots, of which there are quite a number. There were a few other guests while I was there but I was the only diver, so all my dives were solo in the company of an experienced local dive guide.

 

 

There are lots of cod to attract fishermen

 

 

Diving consisted of walls and subsea pinnacles. I did a total of eight dives over four days, and was impressed with the topography, corals, and reef life. but less so by the lack of larger pelagic fish and sight of snagged fishing lines on the coral.

 

 

There was plenty of small reef fish life on every dive

 

 

Thankfully there was not too much floating plastic around, and the visibility was generally good.

 

 

The biggest school of barracuda that I have ever seen on my last Hoga island dive

 

 

Finally, on my eighth and last dive we ran into what I had been hoping for, a massive school of young barracuda, which made up for lack of pelagic fish in the other dives.

 

 

It was amazing to be swimming completely surrounded by barracuda everywhere

 

 

Being surrounded by this huge school of barracuda was an experience not to be forgotten in a long time.

 

 

Raja Ampat

 

On returning to Makassar from Wakatobi, I flew on a direct flight to Sorong, in West Papua province. From Sorong there is a daily fast ferry that will take you to Wasai on Weigo island, Raja Ampat. The homestay that I booked via the excellent website www.stayrajaampat.com which was called Byuk Beya on Kri island picked me up from Waisai.

Location of Kri island, Raja Ampat

Byuk Beya homestay on Kri island

 

 

The homestay was small and very basic, but friendly, with some tasty dishes at times. I also had it to myself for three of the seven nights I stayed there.

 

 

Fish, vegtables and rice for dinner

A nice sunset from the resort jetty

 

 

I dived with Wobbegong Dive Adventures also on www.stayrajaampat.com , located about 10 minutes walk along the beach away, although they mostly picked me up / dropped me off from the dive boat. Although not on every dive, some of the best sites are subject to strong currents, which often attract large numbers of small fish and big fish feeding on them. On several occasions we just hung on to a rock and watched the action.



There can be some pretty strong currents around Kri island, but that attracts fish!



There were divers from Germany, France and Poland; groups were limited to a maximum of five divers per guide, and on several occasions there was only me and the guide. I did a total of 13 dives over six days, all boat dives except for one Sunday shore dive on the house reef (Sunday is a rest day).

 

 

Raja Ampat is one of the few places where big fish still exist, such as this grouper and napoleon

 

 

I found the diving some of the best I have ever done, in terms of interest, especially large fish life. It is one of the few places left where barracuda, trevally, sharks, napoleon, and even grouper can still be seen on nearly every dive, the first two often in big schools.

 

 

Diverse marine life at Raja Ampat is exceptional, from this huge giant clam to garden eels

 

 

I saw one of the largest giant clams that I have ever come across on one dive. It was also pleasing to see a distinct lack of snagged fishing lines on the reefs and floating plastic in the water.

 

 

The corals are mostly healthy, including the right hand one being used as a bed by a wobbegong

 

 

One of the reasons for the mostly healthy state of the coral and abundance of fish, including larger pelagic types, is the remoteness and lack of population pressure. Raja Ampat covers a vast area, which is a Marine Protected habitat.

 

 

There are abundant schools of reef fish such as fusiliers, and pelagic fish

 

 

Dive tourism, whether on live aboard yachts, resorts or homestays, is an important part of the economy, and efforts are made to educate the local population, including schoolchildren to understand this. Hopefully it will be successful and Raja Ampat will remain as it is for many years to come.

 

 

There were also barracudas and reef sharks on most dives, plus many resident fish under jetties

 

 

The following is an approximate costing of the trip:
Perth / Bali $320 return (Air Asia)
Overnight Bali $75 (two nights)
Overnight Makassar $75 (two nights)
Bali / Makassar $140 return (Sriwajaya Air)
Makassar / Wakatobi $160 return (Wings Air)
5 nights Wakatobi Hoga homestay $200 (including meals)
8 boat dives Wakatobi Hoga $330 (own gear)
Taxi / boat transfers from airport to island $50 (return)
Taxi airport to hotel Makassar $30 (return)
Makassar / Sorong $170 return (Sriwajaya Air)
Taxi / ferry / boat transfers airport Sorong to Kri island homestay $100 (return)
7 nights Kri island homestay $250 (including meals)
13 dives (12 boat) Wobbegong Diving $510 (own gear)

 

All up cost approximately $2,400

 

November 2016