Ariel view of Penemu Islands in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat Snorkeling Tour, Dec, 2015 Trip Report

Our recent Raja Ampat trip has to be one of the best I’ve had ever. This was our (combined) 40th visit (or is it closer to 50th?) to Raja and we were finally able to do something we haven’t done before: visit both Misool and the northern portion of Raja Ampat in the same trip! This was thanks to our boat, the Mermaid I that continually sets the benchmark for excellence in small liveaboard accommodations, food, service, and you name it. We started in Misool where we were treated to the spectacular reefs around many of the numerous small groups of limestone islands sprinkled around the shallow waters of Misool’s southeastern coast. Sunshine and calm seas prevailed and our group of 14 snorkelers took full advantage of days packed with marine life.

Split shot depicting the healthy and diverse reefs of Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Over/under shot…

After a few days of Misool’s reefs, we headed up to the north of Dampier Strait where we could explore a diversity of habitats in search of magical reefs and wonderful critters. Our first stops along Bantata and Penemu Islands gave us a glimpse of what the term ‘marine biodiversity’ really means. The list of fish and invertebrates we encountered would fill a book and the unique habitats found around both of these islands were easily worth the price of admission. Shallow reefs growing right up to white beaches, mangroves, and limestone cliffs were the norm on almost every snorkel! At Penemu, we had the chance to hike up to the summit of one of the limestone cliffs for a nice bird’s eye view of the marvelous area.

Wobbegong sharks are often found under ledges and large coral bommies in the northern parts of Raja Ampat

A wobbegong shark…

Our next stops in Yangeffo, Pef, and Alyui Bay gave us the chance to not only see amazing techno-colored reefs (again growing up to and often underneath lush stands of mangroves) but to see a variety of crazy critters like ornate, robust, and roughsnout ghost pipefish, seahorses, waspfish, crocodilefish, colorful nudibranchs, juvenile cuttlefish, epaulette and blacktip reef sharks.

Crab floating on a coconut husk in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

A crab hitchhiking…

Our final days of snorkeling took place around the islands of Mansuar and Kri. Let’s see, two species of sea turtle, wobbegong, blacktip and white tip reef sharks, schools of jacks, emperors, barracuda, fusiliers, and thousands of damsels all contributed to the pageantry of marine life that resides around these islands. Oh, and I almost forgot about the six mantas we swam with for over an hour!

As I stated above, this was one of the best and we feel very privileged to have share this experience with some of our special guests. See you in 2016, Raja Ampat!

 

Sunbeams illuminate sponge-covered mangrove roots in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Sponge covering…

A juvenile oriental sweetlips poses in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

A juvenile oriental sweetlips

Feather stars converge on a coral outcropping in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Feather stars…

 

A blue dragon nudibranch crawls along a reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Close up of a…

Pink and yellow pocillopora corals near Kri Island, Raja Ampat

Pink and yellow…

Soft corals and algae converge under a stand of mangroves in Raja Ampat

A colorful colony…

 

Blue-green chromis swimming above a coral colony located near Batanta Island, Raja Ampat

Blue-green chromis…

Sunbeams drench a colony of acropora in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Sunbeams rain down…

Small gobies like this orange-lined goby can be found throughout Raja Ampat

An orange-lined…

 

Schools of scad are common sites on shallow reefs of Raja Ampat

Schools of scad…

Strong currents and man-made docks and jetties attrack colorful soft corals in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Soft corals under…

Arnaiz's damselfish in Misool, Raja Ampat

Anaiz’s damselfish…