Raja Ampat Liveaboard for Nov 2023

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dianna912

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We are considering booking Raja Ampat for the end of 2023.

We haven't been to Indonesia in years, since we were fairly new divers, and didn't really appreciate the amazingness of it, especially the macros. We were in Amed and then Gili.

We would love to go to Raja Ampat, and the Seahorse trip from Triton Bay to Raja Ampat looks amazing. We appreciate that the Seahorse has a minimum dives logged of 50 dives. We also like the cabin layout, with the two cabins on the main deck that are decent sized and don't have you showering on your toilet. Those cabins also appear to have operational windows, something we are more aware of with liveaboard bookings since the Conception tragedy. Has anyone that stayed on this boat stayed in the main deck cabins? Is there any egress besides going through the camera room/kitchen?

We love macros, and especially nudis. I am an insanely slow diver/photographer more than happy to cover 50 square feet in a dive. We are thinking about going to Ambon before and Lembeh after the LOB. But we do want some of the LOB experience to be slow macro hunting, too. I've been on a liveaboard in the Similand Islands where the DM seemed intent on getting a workout in, and I still lament all of the macro critters I could have seen if allowed to dive my way.

I realize that there were issues with Wallacea with Covid-19 policies in the beginning, but right now, through Liveaboard, they have a flexible cancellation policy with free rebooking within 24 months for covid related issues. We will likely also do a CFAR policy.

Are there any other suggestions for similar trips that might allow us to see whale sharks and Raja Ampat? We are not super excited about the ring of fire and hammerheads, so we ruled out the Repo trips that would spend days there.

Has anyone seen the whale sharks at Triton Bay? I do worry that it could be disturbing to see them in that environment, where they are lured by the fishing platforms. OTOH, I had similar reservations about the Manta Dive in Kona, and we absolutely adored that dive. We haven't seen whale sharks yet, and that is the top of my bucket list!
 

Centrals

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1. There is NO need to travel to Indonesia for whale shark. Baja California.
2. Lembeh is well known for the macro and the pace is extremely SLOW. No rush whatsoever.

Book the trip as long as you do not have to pay a single dime.
 

Darnold9999

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On a RA liveaboard you will likely get some “macro” dives. Typically the last dive of the day when there will be a night dive will be more macro oriented as they want the night dive to be very sheltered and you will typically not move to get to the night dive.

Unless you are diving on a trip specifically designed for photographers you will likely find the pace of diving faster than you will be entirely happy with. Having said that if you have a buddy that is happy with slow diving you can generally do your own thing. Depending on the boat if you can get three other people that want to dive slowly you can ask the guide to slow to your pace.

Far too many divers think that seeing as much of the reef as possible in a dive is a “good” dive. Guides have learned to give customers what they want - so you swim - missing most of the really cool stuff IMHO.
 
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dianna912

dianna912

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1. There is NO need to travel to Indonesia for whale shark. Baja California.
2. Lembeh is well known for the macro and the pace is extremely SLOW. No rush whatsoever.

Book the trip as long as you do not have to pay a single dime.
Our other thought is the Coralia, which is definitely on the luxury price point, but for the master cabins, it certainly looks worth it!

How do you get a good idea of whether a liveaboard is photographer oriented?
 

Darnold9999

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Our other thought is the Coralia, which is definitely on the luxury price point, but for the master cabins, it certainly looks worth it!

How do you get a good idea of whether a liveaboard is photographer oriented?
Generally the trip is booked through a third party and advertised as a photography workshop. For RA and Indonesia I book through Underwater Tribe and if possible take one of the trips they organize. Typically lots of photographers as they cater to that crowd and will often have a photography workshop before or after the liveaboard. Other pro photographers and dive shops will arrange similar trips. Think Backscatter and the like.
 

Darnold9999

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Our other thought is the Coralia, which is definitely on the luxury price point, but for the master cabins, it certainly looks worth it!

How do you get a good idea of whether a liveaboard is photographer oriented?
It has been a few years but Damai had a very low guide to guest ratio when I was on that boat. If you have one guide to two divers you can go as slow as you want.
 

Ran_

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If whale shark is the big deal then November might not be the right time (generally not the best time to visit West Papua). The whale sharks at Triton Bay are not resident to the area, they would migrate as far as Western Australia and only start returning to Triton Bay around Oct/Nov, usually there will be much more sharks around from January onward. When they do show up, typically the sharks would slowly circle around the area below the bagan, at times stop at the net to try suck out the fish for a few minutes, so you don't need to chase them, just watch the giant swim by for the entire dive, nothing disturbing at all.
 

NootFish

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If you're looking for whale sharks, also consider Maldives...

Definitely recommend Lembeh for Macro, and any night/muck dive you can go on. I love Mermaid liveaboard where they had 4 guests per dive guide and divided people up by experience and dive style. If you travel with other photo folks and assert that you want to go slow and look for wee beasties, I think they would accommodate. I'm a slow macro photographer too who's working on focus and snooting, so I definitely prefer to take my time (without over-strobing my subject.)
 

Dan

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I haven’t been on Sea Horse, but it seems like a good boat. It took Jonathan Bird through Banda Sea, as shown in his video, below.

 

Dan

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November 2023 seems like to be a good timing for Raja Ampat. My February 2022 has been rescheduled to February 2024. A lot of good boats have been booked for more than a year later due to rescheduling trips backlog (piling up). So it’s good to start looking into it soon.

Another good boat to consider is Amira. I was on it right before Covid, 2 years ago. Trip Report - Raja Ampat Jan 2020 Trip Report

I enjoyed the muck diving in Batanta. Typical muck diving, we just hover above sandy bottom, looking out for critters. DM even has few tricks to attract the critters / fish to pose in front of our camera like you see in my video, below:


You would also don’t want to miss the site called Magic Mountain in Misool:


and night diving there:

 
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