Alyui Bay, Oct 2023 Trip Report
Alyui Bay 2023
Raja Ampat has been known as an extraordinary destination for lovers of the ocean for about 20 years. The still-remote region is known as the heart of the Coral Triangle for good reason as only those who have delved into its waters truly understand. Having voyaged through the numerous islands of this region many times before, we, at Coral Triangle Adventures, thought a more detailed snorkeling experience through what we think of as the epicenter of the heart of the Coral Triangle was well worth a special snorkeling itinerary.
After smoothly transitioning from Jakarta to Sorong and then onboard the comfy liveaboard phinisi, our intrepid group of snorkelers sailed into the Dampier Strait towards the capital of Raja Ampat, Waisai. Our first snorkels took us into the narrow, coral-lined channel separating the island of Gam, known as one of Alfred Russel Wallace’s many stops in the Malaysian Archipelago, and the mangrove-lined island of Yangeffo. Right away it was evident that the reef-building corals in this area were doing well, growing right up to the low tide line. Dozens of species of small, colorful reef fish were prevalent and a couple of Banded sea kraits made welcome appearances.
Onwards and northwards we sailed into the main focus of our itinerary, Alyui Bay. This large body of water, semi-enclosed by the western arms of Waigeo Island, harbors more marine biodiversity than most people can imagine. Incoming and outgoing tides provide planktonic food to the myriad of filter-feeding organisms that encrust the islands and channels here. Also home to an extensive pearl farm, the bay provides an almost perfect environment for most Indo-Pacific marine species, from the simplest of invertebrates to larger, vertebrate predators that prey on specialized reef life. It would take many lifetimes to enumerate all the species found here and each snorkel brought new ones to light, such as Pewter angelfish, Tasseled wobbegong, Estuary seahorses, Longspine waspfish, Broadclub cuttlefish, and dozens of nudibranchs.
After exploring the variety of different shallow water marine habitats in Alyui, clear water mangroves, seagrass beds, coral gardens, jetties, vertical walls and limestone undercuts, it was time to head south towards the aesthetic limestone islands of Pef. Here, among the beams of sunlight filtering through mangrove trees, we found an unidentified species of flasher wrasse, Variable jawfish, Signal gobies, and even Mandarinfish. Moving further south our voyage brought us to the island of Penemu and finally Batanta. Hawksbill sea turtles, Blacktip sharks, crocodilefish, and schools of massive Bumphead parrotfish were witnessed amid the healthy reefs in these areas.
All in all our group enjoyed a series of incredible snorkels through the underwater wonderland that Raja Ampat supports. Both common and rare species of fish and invertebrates seemed prevalent as we drifted peacefully along the robust reefs thriving in this area. Having never spent so much time in Alyui Bay before we now know it is worth a lifetime of snorkeling exploration and we will run run a similar itinerary again 2025. In the meantime, please check out our gallery below!