Written by: Matt Newkirk
Destination: Kri Island Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia
Visited: May 2017
Raja Ampat offers hands down some of the best scuba diving in the world. The marine biodiversity is unmatched, and the crystal blue water provides dive enthusiasts an unparalleled experience. Manta rays and sharks are familiar sights in the colorful reefs that line the tiny islands. While the currents can be swift, the fantastic visibility and the unique combination of large pelagic species and macro invertebrates make a trip to Raja Ampat a scuba diving experience like none other.
Raja Ampat, or “Four Kings” (In the Bahasa Indonesia Language), is an archipelago, located in Western Papua, Indonesia that is comprised of over 1,500 small but stunningly beautiful islands.
This is a true paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal blue water, and green lush jungles that grow right down to the beach.
The beach on Kri
For our trip we chose to stay on the island of Kri after hearing that a 2004 marine biodiversity study had officially cataloged more than 1,500 species in the reefs around the island, making it the most biodiverse coral reef system ever measured on planet Earth.
A very happy looking pufferfish
After a week of diving on Kri, I believe it. I have never seen so many different species of life on a reef anywhere else. Kri has it all, manta rays on nearly every dive, black tip and white tip sharks buzzing you while you swim, huge schools of bump-head parrotfish, and barracudas.
Clownfish guarding his anemone
And then there are the unusual suspects, wobbegong sharks, crocodile fish, slipper lobsters, countless nudibranch, pigmy seahorse, and stuff that I’m still not sure exactly what it is after consulting several charts and identification books.
Raja Ampat is hands down the best diving that I have ever done. Even the snorkeling was amazing!
A colorful nudibranch (purple) with his flatworm friend (black and orange)
We did not realize it when we booked our trip, but most dive companies on Raja Ampat observe Friday as a Muslim day of rest. When I first found out that I would not be able to dive on Friday I was devastated.
But once I decided to put on my mask and snorkel and go for a swim from my homestay’s beach, my disappointment quickly faded as the utter joy of snorkeling around Kri took hold.
The snorkeling was almost better than the diving, simply because I wasn’t limited by air or deco time.
Yellow Pygmy Seahorse
We stayed at Koranu Fyak Bungalows with the owners, Icha and Ruben. Ruben is a local from Kri, and Icha moved to the small island from Jakarta after being assigned for a short stay on a work project. The bungalows were basic, but perfect.
Our beachfront bungalow on Kri
It was really more like camping than anything else, because the walls of the bungalow didn’t quite reach the ceiling, and jungle creatures pretty much had free reign of our room. Thankfully the room included a good mosquito net.
We were having such a good time with the diving, that we barely even noticed the fist-sized spiders that rule over the outdoor shared bathrooms.
Schools of baby batfish and others under the jetty
We chose Koranu Fyak Bungalows because they had the best-rated dive shop on the island, and we were glad that we did. Paul and Bram, our dive guides, were incredible! They knew all of the reefs, the times, tides, and how to spot every creature in the sea.
I really can’t say enough about diving with these guys, simply the best! The equipment was older, but impeccably maintained and in perfect working order.
Tiny coral shrimp
Raja Ampat really is an absolute paradise for scuba divers. I will never forget the week that I spent there exploring the reefs and constantly being amazed by the strange and wonderful creatures that can be found there.
You can reach Kri by flying into Sorong and catching a ferry to Wasai. The express ferry costs around $15 USD, and takes about two hours. From Wasai, you will need to arrange for your guesthouse to pick you up by boat and take you another hour to Kri.