Question RA / Banda Recommendations for December 2022

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SharkSteward

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I agree about Raja often having reduced viz (I go at least one time a year every year and sometimes more than once) but that being said, it has been much worse this year. The south had a huge algae bloom this year in June and it hadn't cleared up yet as of Oct. Temps in general have been very warm which is probably not helping much. Lots of jellyfish to enjoy... or not.

For the OP @SharkSteward I think a trip that incorporates the North and the South would be a great itinerary. Boats will probably try to stay where the diving is the best. The North and Central have amazing dive sites and should not be missed. Misool/south can be very crowded so either way you will be happy. The viz really just effects photography/videography so if you aren't either then just enjoy.
Thanks Cali, the itineraries I'm looking at cover 3-4 days around Dampier and Fam (considered Central) and then rest down in Misool, so I guess that doesn't include the sites further north like Wayag. correct? I heard the far north is more for muck and macro.

You say Misool is usually croweded, I was under the assumption that Misool was harder to get to and more isolated so less boats around vs Central. Is this not true?
 

chillyinCanada

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I always found Dampier and Kri more crowded with day boats and Misool, less so. I've been when viz was lousy on a couple of sites but good on others. Mother Nature delivers what she delivers. Sometimes that's amazing and at others, it's only good.
 

Cali_diver

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I wasn't referring to day boats. More liveaboards go to Misool than to the Northern areas. I think many of the boats have focused on the Misool areas in the last few years, making it more crowded, which is the reason why you have to call ahead and schedule times for certain dive sites with the eco resort. All you have to do is look at the itineraries to see this. The good news is when you get your scheduled time for Magic Mountain, you will be the only boat on it for the 60 min. you are allowed to dive. I do think some of the boats that have been there for awhile will start to do more Northern itineraries again, but who knows. I think Covid knocked out quite a few of the smaller ops so it will definitely lesson the load.
 

drrich2

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@drrich2 I read through your entire Coral Triangle Post earlier this year, did you ever make a decision on which option you were going to do and do further research on itineraries or LOB's? I'm specifically deciding between a solely Central (Dampier) R4 or a Central + Misool as my dates do not allow me to do a longer 11D/10N trip which includes both.
Lord willing and providing, I hope to do a 10-day (night?) Raja Ampat trip aboard the Indo-Siren liveaboard. We live in such an uncertain world, I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched. The 10-day itineraries go down to the Misool area; the 7-day itineraries do not (speaking of this vessel; I don't know about others). I haven't had to decide between central and southern RA like you are. I should add my trip was supposed to take place in late 2021 but got rescheduled due to the pandemic; I was torn between the Indo-Siren and Samambaia, then discovered the former was on offer at a 20% off sale (which clinched the deal for me).

Richard.
 
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SharkSteward

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I wasn't referring to day boats. More liveaboards go to Misool than to the Northern areas. I think many of the boats have focused on the Misool areas in the last few years, making it more crowded, which is the reason why you have to call ahead and schedule times for certain dive sites with the eco resort. All you have to do is look at the itineraries to see this. The good news is when you get your scheduled time for Magic Mountain, you will be the only boat on it for the 60 min. you are allowed to dive. I do think some of the boats that have been there for awhile will start to do more Northern itineraries again, but who knows. I think Covid knocked out quite a few of the smaller ops so it will definitely lesson the load.

Ah that makes sense! Good intel, I think in December it will be crowded wherever I go due to high season.

The other thing I need to consider is one of the boats is newer and does not yet have Nitrox available.

@Cali_diver @chillyinCanada Do you know if Nitrox is a must have to enjoy the central and southern sites?
 

chillyinCanada

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It's a must for me because of the distance to a chamber. For me, just a general preference.

I really can't recall being deeper than 80' but didn't run into any downcurrents.

How many dives per day do you intend to do?
 

Cali_diver

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I think Nitrox is a must for any kind of repetitive diving especially that of a liveaboard. I also think it is best for my health and well being. I feel better and safer when on it.

I have a tendency to shy away from new boats. I want the dive guides to know the sites and how they are with the rising and falling tides...etc. I am not saying that they don't but I would want to make sure it isn't a captain new to the area and guides that don't have a bunch of experience with the sites. Mostly the no nitrox would be the deal breaker.
 
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SharkSteward

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@Cali_diver @chillyinCanada Okay thats really good intel. Nitrox should definitely be a big factor then, I think I found the perfect itinerary - it's on a boat called Jakare which have great reviews. It's a 10 day/9 night trip that covers Central and Southern RA, with Nitrox and few more topside activities which I enjoy.

Either of you know anything about this boat?
 

Dan

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Sorry for delay response. I’m now in Banda Sea, chasing Sperm whales.

22569ACD-5778-4A66-A891-05350EE6CD43.jpeg
 

Dan

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I'm hoping @Dan sees this and can provide his input as he seems to be the resident RA expert :)
I’ll be on Mermaid 2 from 4 to 12 December. Come & join me there.

I’m now in Banda Sea with Pindito, chasing whales. Saw zPilit whales yesterday. Sperm Whales today.

Another good liveaboards are Blue Manta and Amira.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

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