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Friday, March 4, 2011

Indonesia Part Four: The Best Diving in the World

In Part Three, we started our scuba vacation in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.  Here is a continuation of our time in Raja Ampat.

The boat headed to Wayag, which, I must say, is the most beautiful place on Earth.  Wayag is a bunch of humps of islands surrounded by blue water.  It is the paradise that you see when you get a screensaver of beautiful places.  It is the most beautiful place on Earth.  Period.  Even now, I'm looking at photos of the trip and I cannot believe that I was even there!
The islands in Wayag

We arrived in Wayag on January 27, our third full day on the boat.  Diving here had some current and steep drop offs, since we were basically diving on the side of the little islands.  We saw more Clownfish (there are clownfish everywhere here, they're really nothing special, I suppose, but I love them anyway).  We saw schools of Bannerfish, Nudibranchs, and beautiful corals.

After our third dive, we went for a boat ride in the dinghies.  We got the full tour of Wayag, going through the maze of tiny islands that make up the area.  It was spectacular.  At the end of the tour, we got off of the dingy onto a beach.  Then, Weka took Todd, Daniel and me to the top of the mountain (the others went back to the boat).  WOW, what a climb!  You know, I think that I'm all in shape because I run marathons and what not, but I was covered in sweat and had to stop several times to rest.  Still, we climbed the whole thing in about 20 minutes or so.  Going down was a different story, it was TOUGH.  It took twice as long to get down because I was afraid of falling.  The path went almost straight up - we were literally climbing up, so I was careful going down.  I made it without getting injured, so yay!

I have a whole series of photos:
On the boat around Wayag
The dingy on the beach

Todd and me on the beach
Looking down at the Raja Ampat Explorer from the top of the peak

Standing on the beach, looking up at the top of the climb (we ended up where the lone palm tree is at the top.

Looking over at Weka (he's just to the left of the palm in the photo above)

Todd went out for the night dive that night, but I was exhausted and chose instead to enjoy a nice lukewarm shower and a Bintang Beer.  There was no hot water on the boat except on the dive deck, so if I was in the room the shower was just kind of warmish (but more like cold, I guess).  As for Bintang, it's the official beer of Indonesia, and is really just Heineken.  The brewery was a Heineken brewery when the Dutch had control of Indonesia.  The Indonesian government took it over in 1957, but ten years later Heineken took it over again.  The name has remained Bintang.  I don't drink enough Heineken to know if Bintang tastes like it or not.

The morning after the hike, I woke up around 5:45am and went up on the sun deck with a cup of tea and my Kindle to read and watch the sunrise.  It looked very cloudy and there were some black clouds around, so I figured the sunrise wouldn't be that great.  About 10 minutes later, it started to rain some, so I moved on to the benches under the overhang on the sun deck to watch a little summer rainstorm (I love them!).  Then, uh, it started pouring.

I ran inside and there we all were for the next five hours.  It was a horrible storm.  Right at first, we were anchored near an island and the winds and waves were pushing us into the rocks next to the island.  I was thinking, oh, here it is.  Here is where we run up on a reef and sink.  Alas, no, the captain got us out and we headed away.  We were back in the water just before noon.  We missed one dive that day, but it all worked out.
Inside the magic rock

Our next stop was in the Kawe region of Raja Ampat, which is unique because it straddles the equator.  We did some dives in the afternoon that were right on the Equator, in fact.  The day cleared up as it went on, but at first the mist was absolutely spectacular.

As the week went on, we saw more and more amazing dive sites.  Magic Rock was a beautiful cave with pretty skylights and schools of Bumphead Parrotfish.

In Penemu, we did a dive at dusk specifically looking for Mandarin fish.  Mandarin fish are beautiful, but they stay in hiding all day long.  At dusk, they come out and mate.  So, we went out at dusk to get a glimpse of the little guys.  We saw several pairs of fishes (and a threesome)!  We took a tour of Penemu as well, since it had a series of islands similar to Wayag (although I admit, not quite as pretty...)

Ellen and Matt in Penemu
The crew (the captain is the one with his hands up) say goodbye as we head out for a tour of Penemu


The boat anchored in Penemu
Before we knew it, the week was up.  On February 2, we did our last dive in Mansuar and then headed back to SorongBintang!) and watching the fireworks over Sorong celebrating Chinese New Year.


Kandi said...

Those pictures are spectacular! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

chuck21050 said...

I am really enjoying reading this. You do a wonderful job of writing and your descriptions make you feel like you are there.

marathonmaiden said...

i love the writing and pictures of these posts! you've probably already written about this / i've already asked buttt how'd you get into diving? it's obvious how passionate you are. have you been doing this forever?

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