Diving Raja Ampat South
Diving Raja Ampat South brings booming currents washing over colossal seamounts rising from the ocean floor. Kaleidoscopic blooms of purple and orange soft corals. Schools of massive bump headed parrot fish, effortlessly devouring chunks of the reef. These are the sights while diving Raja Ampat South.
Here you get a real sense of the remoteness and untouched nature of West Papua. The diving hotspots of south east Misool have few resorts or villages nearby. Highlights of the area are some epic swim through caves, and fully submerged reefs that attract manta’s and sharks. Both species testament to the positive effects of conservation patrols provided by the local Misool rangers.
Southern Raja Ampat dive sites such as Magic Mountain, No Contest and Boo Windows, have given the region as much of a reputation for amazing epic underwater landscapes, as it has for amazing biodiversity of marine life.
Diving Raja Ampat South Dive Sites
This site is the first of the “owner’s favorites” dive sites at La Galigo liveaboard. Dropping into the depths at this site, divers are confronted by two giant pinnacles rising from the ocean depths, with a small connecting bridge teeming with marine life. Big schools of striped sweetlips, Trevally and roaming Titan Trigger fish are abundant on this dive. Our guides will take you on a figure of 8 around the pinnacles winding your way up from the bottom to top to see all the species that reside in the benthic layers to the brighter spots of this fish haven. Be sure to check the amazing coral covered overhangs near the connecting bridge of the two pinnacles. Current can pick up when on this dive so be prepared for a bit of a kick, even if it seems easy at the start. Although the site drops off deeper, we like to stay around 25m on this site to view the best on offer.
This is another nice easy dive, that if the current is right can also be used to check your skills after a while off diving. A nice wall with some folding overhangs give this site plenty of potential for both macro life as well as the bigger schooling fish. Keep an out out into the blue as well though, as this spot is a reliable path for the schooling mobula rays that cruise around north Misool. There is no need to go much deeper than 23m on this site to see the majority of the life around.
Keruo Night Dive
This spot is a good reliable night dive. An easy site to take on, there is very little current until the end of the reef, where our dive guides will turn you around to double back on the site at a higher elevation to see what critters live at different depths. The whole site is a straight slope mixing of sand and coral.
Plenty of crustaceans emerge from the sand and coral at night to pick at all those tiny krill hanging around the light from your dive torch. The maximum depth we will take for this dive is 18m.
The site is called Barracuda rock but schooling trivially are the highlight of this one. Watch them come in wave after wave in perfect formation. A great undercut on this site gives divers the chance to get amongst the critters that like to hide in the dark and shelter here. Heading south this site is a stepping down ridge to around 20 meters.
This dive site gets its name from the two giant windows at the the south end of the adjoining rock. This makes a top spot to grab a selfie and upload to your instagram to make your friends say wow! The main section of the dive is along the slopes that run on the east and west sides of the site. If you like red tooth trigger fish, those goofy toothed looking little blue fella’s, you will love this site. The place is absolutely teeming with them in all sorts of sizes. This is another spot that we regularly see all sorts of sea turtles and some Peacock Mantis Shrimps hiding amongst the cracks and crevices. This site is well deserving as its title as one of Raja Ampat’s most well known dive sites.
Four pinnacles make up the four kings at this site. Another one of the south of Raja Ampat amazing submerged pinnacle dives, with scenery that will take your breath away. This site can be dived from any direction to take in all 4 pinacles. The bottom here is past 30 meters so we generally stay around the 25m mark. Currents sometimes exist here, but are not particularly strong.
Magic Mountain is one of the sites that just simply can not be missed in the south. The reef is submerged in the blue and must be found via GPS. When you drop down the first stage is a round flat reef at 8m. This first section has several large bommies that are a manta cleaning station. It’s not uncommon to see giant oceanic manta rays here with a wing span of 6 meters.
Continuing on the magic keeps coming. the site runs from the first part of the reef down a series of giant steps, with flat tops and steep side walls. The dive site is absolutely swarming with schools of snapper, big eyed jacks, barracuda, giant trivially this site has it all. Maximum depth is at 25m for this dive as we round the far tip of the steps and make our way back up the steps for a final stop at the manta cleaning station. Currents at the site are normally mild to moderate.
This awesome dive site looks just like the name suggests. Imagine a giant layer wedding cake underwater, inviting you to search and explore under all the ridges and overhangs of the layers as you go down. The main coral attraction on this site are some nice giant fan corals. This reef attracts lots of large schools of fish hunting their prey such as Barracuda and Big eyed jacks. Current can be from moderate to strong at this site so make sure you follow your dive guides instruction. Maximum depth of this site is 27m.
Yellit Kecil (Small Yellit) is known for the soft coral growth and impressive bommies at the shallower spots along the ridge. This spot is great for both a day dive or a night dive. Pay particular attention to the smaller things on this small island, there are good macro photography opportunities to snap nudibranchs of all sorts.
This dive site is set in the ideal location for a night dive. As the sun sets down over the sea in a channel between two hight steep sided Islands, the small island of Dunia Kecil is light up. This is a nice sheltered spot with very gentle current at times. At night this site really puts on a display.
Many species of big and small crabs and crustaceans emerge from the cracks and crevices. We follow a slope around most of the eastern side of the island until it turns into a ridge towards the end. The number of crazy nocturnal species that can be found on this site see limitless. Its a truely a great way to polish off a great day diving.
Three Rocks is exactly that from the surface. Under the water the rocks make an impressive labyrinth of sheer walls to duck and dive around. One of the most memorable parts of this dive is being surrounded in every aspect, around, up and down by fish of many different species. Beautiful soft corals and whip corals protrude from the walls as you sweep around between all the rocks walls, moving from shadow to light as do the local residents. We cap this dive at 25m depth to preserve a nice profile during the dive.
A narrow channel runs between the Keruo channel with towering sheer cliffs up each side. The dive site runs along the western wall of the channel, and can be either started from the north or the south depending on which way the current is flowing. The dive site is a spectacular wall covered in colourful sponges and nudibranchs.
The bottom is at 35m but we stay at 25m and drift along with the mild current as the tender follows us from above. This is another site that ends with a sheltered shallow reef that is great for some reflection photos with the trickling lighting.
This dive site is the highlight of the Penemu area. A vast garden of plate coral beyond belief, covered in swarms of colourful fish. This site has a nice slope on one side of the rock protruding from the ocean, often with patrolling black tip reef sharks. This leads to a sandy bottom patch, filled with those quirky garden eels. Current can be strong to moderate here.
This is also quite a big site, so it there is strong current try to be conservative with your diving so your air lasts and you can see the most of this stunning site. Pay extra attention to your buoyancy as not to damage any of the fragile plate corals. This dive hits its deepest point at the sandy bottom and is at 27m.
This site is a long sloping wall, with a few impressive bommies along it. Be sure to look under the bommies and ledges for the hiding tasseled wobbygong sharks and endemic Raja Ampat walking sharks. These local critters make Harto’s reef great for a night dive or a day dive.
Currents are generally pretty mild here a lot of the time and our maximum depth is 23m. The dive ends in a really nice shallow section of reef with some great lighting for photographers to capture some shots with sun rays. Also the above water split shots are great here to get the coral and the view in one.
Whale rock is the third of the 3 dive sites very close to each other in a line in this area (Along with Nudi and Tank Rock). Unlike the other two though, this is a huge dive site and can be dived twice before you see the entire extent. Because of the size of this site, we let the current dictate where we will make our decent – which can be anywhere to start this dive.
The main rock and wall slopes are surrounded with shallower reef slopes in parts, bommies in the south east point and a pinnacle in the south west point. There is also a great spot to swim across a gap to a second large rock part of the dive in the west. It’s an amazing feeling being at the level of the rock, then swimming across and suddenly having the deep blue open underneath you as you transcend your way to the western rock face.
This site has many schooling fish as well as great small creatures, so it’s really hard to decide between a wide angle or macro camera set up for this one. Maximum depth is 25m and the current varies from none to moderate depending on the day.
Tank rock has a large sheer sloping wall with more of… yep you guessed it, those amazing underwater pinnacles that make the south of Raja Ampat so magical. This ridge can be dived on one tank and boasts a spectacle of colourful invertebrates and fish. There are some impressively sized green moray eels hiding amongst the rocks here too, great for a front on perspective photo, capturing the shadows as the elongated body extends back into the rock face. The North side of the ridge is more colourful than the south side, so we prefer to dive here if the current is right, and take you to a maximum depth of 25m.
As soon as you get to Nudi rock you see where it gets it’s name from. The shape is uncanny in resemblance to the little critters, even to the point of having stringy trees for antennas – which some guests have suggested might have been planted 😉 Underwater this site is a large coral ridge that connects up to Tank rock.
The north side is a vertical wall with schooling fish o’ plenty. The usual suspects here are sweetlips and jacks in large schools, and of course plenty of Nudi’s. The southern side is a shallow plateau with scattered bommies, always great to find something hiding amongst. The best depth here is around 23m so we seldom dip below this. Currents from none to moderate.
Farondi island in Misool’s north has a great little dive site called ‘Goa Farondi’ (Farondi Cave in Bahasa Indonesian. This dive starts plunging into a shallow reef on the north side of the cave. We often see groups of up to 8 giant hump head parrot fish at the drop in point before we even take on the cave. Dropping down through the reef and out to the south is a spectacular cave to swim through and check out all the nudibranchs on the sides of the cavern. The dive sweeps west along a wall down at 30m depth, where we raise our profile and swim along with some great schooling fish and sometimes schooling mobula rays. A second cave towards the end of the dive gives us the opportunity to pop our heads up in the open cavern after a safety stop, a great photo op with the natural light trickling in from a small opening at the top. We have experienced some strong currents at the first cave entrance, so if the conditions are not right on the day, we put your safety first and take this one as a wall dive instead.