The Best Liveaboards in Raja Ampat21st March 2017 | Sarah Morlock
Raja Ampat in Indonesia, well known for its colorful corals, is a destination for those who love dense schools of fish and encounters with weird and wonderful critters. Lucky divers will see an astounding number of rare marine life including wobbegong sharks, manta rays, epaulette sharks, bobtail squid, whale sharks, pygmy seahorses and thousands of tropical fish. While diving in Raja Ampat, you’ll get to experience the highest biodiversity of marine species on Earth.
This island chain boasts a wide variety of underwater environments, including reef dives, deep dives and high-speed drifts. Landscapes are volcanic in nature with outstanding coral growth because of the limited population and recently implemented protections.
While there are scuba diving resorts scattered around Raja Ampat’s major islands, you’ll be able to dive more of the area’s 200 dive sites from a liveaboard. For this reason, liveaboards are the most popular form of travel in Raja Ampat.
Dive safaris that explore this region of Indonesia usually depart from Sorong in West Papua. The typical length of liveaboard trips is 7 to 10 nights, although some operators offer shorter 5-night itineraries.
The best time to dive in Raja Ampat is from October to April. During these months, you’ll have the greatest selection of liveaboards and the best weather. Surface conditions are calm and the skies are generally dry. However, Raja Ampat can be dived year-round, and the same amount marine life is present in the off season.
It’s recommended that divers visiting Raja Ampat have at least an intermediate level. Some unpredictable currents can pop up from time to time, but most dive sites are calm with great visibility.
Best Luxury Liveaboard: Damai II
The Damai II is the liveaboard of choice for those who want to be pampered on their holiday. This dive safari can easily compete with a land-based luxury resort.
The range of amenities available on this yacht is sure to impress. The 130-foot (40-meter) traditional yacht was designed for small group dive safaris. In addition, each room is equipped with reef-safe amenities such as suntan lotion and shampoo as well as a 3G hotspot so that you can always be in contact with the outside world.
Divers will enjoy the spacious dive deck and the high speed tenders that are used to reach the dive sites. Plus, there's unlimited diving (as long as your air lasts) with a ratio of 1 guide to 4 divers.
With 7 staterooms, the maximum number of divers is 14 yet the crew of each vessel is 20 members strong. You’re sure to get personalized service, and you’re definitely going to enjoy a heavenly dive vacation on the Damai II, one of the most luxurious liveaboards in the world.
Best Liveaboard for Longer Trips: Amira
Cloud-like white sails regally announce the arrival of the Amira to ports around Indonesia. Just because this well-priced boat reaches remote corners of the Coral Triangle doesn’t mean the Amira sacrifices grandeur.
First, the spacious dive deck and 4 dives a day mean scuba divers are well-catered for aboard this magnificent dive charter. Small diving groups are a hallmark of the Amira. 5 experienced dive pros are split between a total of 20 guests. And a dedicated camera and computer room is ideal for underwater photographers.
Furthermore, the 170-foot (52-meter) yacht boasts both a sun deck and a spacious lounge as well as two shared computers, massage services and onboard kayaks. 10 spacious cabins can accommodate all guests in style.
For a nicely priced liveaboard with a touch of luxury and personal service, the Amira is an excellent choice.
Best Budget Liveaboard: Pearl of Papua
Providing a cheaper alternative to the high-end boats plying Indonesian waters, the Pearl of Papua gives outstanding service above and below the water.
This dive safari is dedicated entirely to Raja Ampat. The boat does not travel elsewhere in Indonesia during the offseason, so you can be sure that you’ll see the best dive sites in the region. And the Pearl of Papua's trips are scheduled in a way that dive sites are seen at the ideal time. You’ll enjoy up to 4 guided dives a day alongside 3 experienced dive pros.
In addition to great diving, onboard you’ll find the relaxation only available to those sailing the Seven Seas. A crew of 14 give personal service to the 14 guests diving with the Pearl of Papua. Furthermore, the 7 cabins are well-equipped for the journey, and air conditioning will keep you cool and collected.
If you’re on a budget yet wish to explore Raja Ampat, the Pearl of Papua is the perfect option.
The three liveaboards you’ve read about were hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are more boats available. To see the full list of liveaboards in Raja Ampat, click the button below.