Dive sites around Kri Island are world-famous and for good reasons. Plenty of places to choose from, stunning islands, turquoise water, and remarkable marine life make Raja Ampat a prime scuba-diving destination. But, of course, conditions vary depending on when you visit, the seasons affecting currents, visibility, and marine migration. The list below is timeless, but the comments on the conditions are from our visit end of April.
By far, the best spot among Kri Island diving! Located in the Jef Fam Islands, the coral gardens are high in colors and various formations for an exciting dive. Our first-morning dive, we enjoyed sun rays illuminating the stunning coral. Grey reef sharks, pygmy seahorses, wobbegongs sharks, barracudas, and angelfish are usually present. The lack of currents and shallow reefs made it a delightful dive suitable for all levels.
Depth 20-25 meters / 65-80 feet, low currents, visibility 15-20 meters / 50-65 feet
With strong current swirling around, Mike’s Point is a site for advanced divers. We did face strong currents and entered from the protected side of the island. We stayed close to the coral until we reached the reef drop-off. Hiding behind the drop-off for half of the dive, we managed to avoid being swapped away by the current. The coral top sits at around 5 m, perfect for an extended safety stop while enjoying the healthy coral. We saw blacktip reef sharks, nudibranchs, seahorse trumpet fish, lionfish, and pipefish.
Depth 30 meters / 100 feet, strong currents, visibility 15 meters / 40 feet
Manta Sandy / Manta Ridge
Manta Sandy is a scenic spot with stunning turquoise shallow water, a sand bar, and many seagulls flying around. Mantas are present at this cleaning station, and when in the season, you can see up to 20 manta rays! We did see the tips of their wings as we cruised to and around the spot, mainly in the churning current areas. But none at the actual protected shallow dive site. With only 18 meters deep, this is a good site for divers of all levels and is also popular with snorkelers, though watch for potentially strong currents. But the dive site is bare and of no interest without mantas.
Depth 18 meters / 60 feet, low currents, visibility 15-20 meters / 50-65 feet
Situated like the name indicated at the easternmost point of Kri Island, this dive site is one of the most popular in the area and features a great variety of species and many schools of fish. The dive starts on the protected side of the island and goes along the reef. Once reaching the tip of the reef, a strong current running perpendicular can swipe out towards the other end of the island.
Two divers faced an ascending current around that area and went from 18 meters / 60 feet to 5 meters / 16 feet in one minute. If the currents pose no issue, the dive returns via the shallow coral reef at around 5 meters / 16 feet. The coral is relatively abundant, and we saw a blacktip reef shark, napoleon wrasse, and giant trevallies.
Depth 21 meters / 70 feet, slight current at the bottom and over the coral (though the site is known to have strong surface currents given the location), visibility 15 meters / 50 feet.
Another favorite dive site in Raja Ampat, the exposed offshore reef, is quite gorgeous even it has no sardines. Incredible marine life diversity with lots of large schools are usually present, and Australian Wobbegong sharks lay under corals and large rock cracks. We also saw nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, blacktip reef sharks, and an exciting reef formation where you can dive around the coral garden. The current was medium in strength, but we used our hook to stay stationary and enjoy the reef and school of fish around us.
Towards the end of the dive, the current became suddenly stronger and swept us along the reef. Buddies grabbed each other as we tried to keep buoyancy and avoid bumping into the reef and each other. Finally, the reef dropped, and we soon were floating into the open sea, a void of blue water. Our divemaster had his reel and safety sausage out. We all drifted to him, reaching and holding hands after knocking each other first. The safety stop was surreal, a tight group of hands in semi-circle floating away with no visible reef or direction around us.
Depth 22-25 meters / 72-82 feet, strong current, visibility 10 meters / 32 feet.
With a strong current though not as strong as to require negative entry, we descended against the current, which needed a constant push until we reached the bottom. Staying close to the reef made it somewhat more manageable as we pushed through for the first half of the dive. The current pushed sideways on the return part, sometimes gentle, sometimes medium-strong. Due to the conditions, we used our reef hook to check the coral. Another group the day prior experienced so powerful a current at the end of the dive they had to hold tight on rocks to finish their safety stop. We saw Wobbegong sharks, gray sharks, map pufferfish, harlequin shrimp, and white coral shrimp.
Depth 24 meters / 80 feet, low to strong current, visibility 15 meters / 50 feet.
Blue Magic is considered one of the top dives around Kri for the big stuff. Unfortunately, the jump occurred after a couple of days of rains and a strong overnight storm. The visibility was heavily charged with particles, making for less than ideal diving conditions. Little marine life and fish schools did not help either, though one usually sees red snappers, barracudas, and tuna fish schools. Occasionally manta rays visit the cleaning station by the eastern bommies.
The current was almost inexistent when we dived, a rare occasion at Blue Magic. As a result, we enjoyed a tranquil experience on one end, but this explained the lack of large fish. However, other divers went on the next day and enjoyed improved visibility and the presence of several large schools of fish.
Depth 26 – 30 meters / 85 – 100 feet, medium current, 10 meters / 30 feet visibility, mostly with strong currents
Mioskom (Bat Island)
Manta Manta! Though it is not as reputed for mantas like Manta Sandy, we got fortunate to see one flying toward us just at the beginning of our dive. It was an impressive sight, 2-meter (6-feet) large. Also present were bargibanti pygmy seahorse and green turtle.
Depth 20 meters / 65 feet, medium current, visibility 10 meters / 30 feet
Jef Fam Group
A stunning landscape composed of limestone islands, the shallow turquoise waters offer great dives and snorkels opportunities along enclosed lagoons, shallow bays, or close to cliffs. Most of all, the view from Pianemo Island is a fantastic bonus that makes the boat ride worth it, even if you don’t dive in the area.
When to Dive in Kri Island
Experienced divers can enjoy good year-round conditions. However, for optimal weather and diving conditions, you might want to time your visit with the following:
- October to February for the best diving conditions with the calmest conditions
- June to September have high winds and stormy conditions
- Bring reef hook and safety sausage
- Have your dive computer
- Rental equipment wear & tear vary from brand new to patched BCD or non-working depth gauge
- 3mm full wetsuit with booties recommended (irritating plankton/micro jellyfish can be annoying)
- Diving Environment
- Water temperatures: Between 27°- 30°C / 80°-86°F
- Depth: From 10 to 40 meters / 30 to 130 feet
- Dive types: mostly drift, from mild to powerful currents. Given the remoteness of Raja Ampat, it is recommended for experienced divers.
- Visibility: 10 to 30 meters / 30 to 100 feet. In April, it varied from 10 to 15 meters (30 to 50 feet). October to February have better visibility, with October – November the best. One dive at Blue Magic had poor visibility one morning after the overnight storm but was clearer the next when particles settled down.
- From none to a washing machine, ascending and descending currents during strong tides of New Moon and Full Moon. The same site we dived a calm afternoon with barely any current featured a strong ascending current the next day. It propelled divers from 17 meters to 5 meters in a minute. In the same dive bottom time, we could be stationary looking at the corals, and the next minute we held hands to stay together as we floated alongside the reef.
- Tides: can be pretty intense and with a high coefficient. During the New Moon, it went about a 3-meter difference.
- Diving Level:
- Experienced divers will enjoy Raja Ampat better than novice divers. Dive centers offer PADI or SSI certifications, and depending on the time of the year, many sites are excellent for beginners.
- However, most sites are exposed, and Raja Ampat is known for its currents that change very quickly. You need to be a good swimmer and in good shape to go against the current part of the dive. A good set of skills is vital to react safely should conditions change. If you don’t know what a negative entry is, make sure to try it during your first dives to understand and practice – this would be an essential skill.
- Safety Standards:
- The divemasters, primarily Indonesian, and a few Westerners are competent and know their spots.
- However, the safety standards are not equal, and the need to satisfy the customers in showing as much as possible at every dive usually takes over safety precautions. If you are not experienced, you might end up in tricky, let alone possibly dangerous situations.
- Three divers finished the dive and safety stop with less than 10 bars during one dive, though the divemasters knew for about 10 minutes; these divers were getting low on air while we were still down at 15 meters / 50 feet.
Raja Ampat Travel Tips:
- Raja Ampat is Raja Ampat Marine Park, and an entrance fee is required to access and dive
- You can dive in Raja Ampat from a dive resort or liveaboard.
- Staying in a dive resort is usually a less expensive alternative than a liveaboard
- But Raja Ampat liveaboard cruises will take you to different dive sites, traveling at night to reach secluded areas
- Plan your trip ahead of time as dive resorts and liveaboards tend to be booked well in advance.
- Similarly, flights to Sorong can be busy, so early booking is better
- Watch for the diving season, as weather can turn stormy, with heavy rains limiting the visibility
- While some resorts can take credit cards, the internet connection might be spotty and prevent the transaction from going through. Think about an alternate payment method and bring cash as an option.
- Make sure to check all your underwater camera equipment is in working condition as photography gear will be hard to come by while in Raja Ampat.
Interested in more dive spots and diving destinations? Check out our previous diving adventures.
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