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Diving in the Bird's Head Seascape

From Raja Ampat’s unrivaled biodiversity to
Triton Bay’s soft coral-covered pinnacles to
Cenderawasih Bay’s whale shark experience.

From Raja Ampat’s unrivaled biodiversity to Triton Bay’s soft coral-covered pinnacles to Cenderawasih Bay’s whale shark experience, wherever you choose to dive in the Bird’s Head Seascape, unequaled diving awaits!

  • When to Dive

    The prime season to see all of Raja Ampat and Triton Bay is roughly between October and April during the northwest monsoon season. Cenderawasih Bay may be dived year round; normally, prevailing winds do not adversely affect reefs inside the bay, but most liveaboards traverse Papua’s north coast between May and September. Check with the individual operator for seasonal resort closings and liveaboard movements.
  • Diving Conditions

    Current: In the Seascape, tides normally fall from the north and rise from the south except in Raja Ampat’s Dampier Strait, which funnels vast amount of sea water from the east on a falling tide and from the west on a rising tide. The great schools of fish that congregate around several renowned BHS sites are current-dependent. All operators consider current and try to time guests’ entries to coincide with the best possible current for a particular site. They also include the daily mantra, “no current, no life”, in every dive briefing.

    Because of its size and location, Cenderawasih Bay is not subject to the often-strong currents found elsewhere in the Bird’s Head. Diving around reef corners and out on extended ridges of coral is the best place to experience current and large schools of fish in Cenderawasih Bay.

    Water Temperatures: The Seascape averages 83°F (28.3°C), although fluctuations between 75 and 86°F (24-30°C) are common, depending on daily tidal-driven and seasonal, wind-driven upwellings. Cenderawasih Bay tends to be slightly warmer than the rest of the Bird’s Head, while Triton Bay is noticeably cooler, particularly during the southeast monsoon months, May through September.

    Visibility: Visibility changes with the seasons and the tides. While visibility can often be very good, the same rich nutrient broth, which feeds the Bird’s Head’s thriving reefs, also reduces visibility. The upside to poor visibility caused by upwelling and dense plankton blooms is the increased likelihood of big animal encounters.
  • What to Bring Diving

    Most divers travel with their own regulator, mask, fins (booties if necessary), wet suit, BCD, computer (with extra batteries), surface signaling device, and dive light. Some rental dive gear is available on most boats and at resorts, but check availability with your particular operator. A few operations employ photo pros to help with repairs and replacement camera gear, but visitors should travel with crucial spare parts.

    Seascape diving is computer diving. You will get much more out of your liveaboard or resort experience by bringing a dive computer.

    Proof of certification and diving insurance is required by all BHS operators. Bring your C-card and whatever scuba diving insurance you carry. Nitrox users should bring that C-card as well.
  • Dive Training and Certification Training and Certification

    Certification courses are available by prior request only. Nitrox courses, which fit easily into the normal diving day, usually are easy to arrange if your operation employs a nitrox instructor.
  • Diving Safety

    The Bird’s Head Seascape has no nearby recompression chamber. The closest chamber is in Manado, and evacuation is extremely expensive and difficult to arrange. Oxygen is available at resorts and on liveaboards, but breathing oxygen is insufficient treatment for Decompression Sickness. It is imperative to dive conservatively, well within the no decompression limits of your computer, and to have some form of scuba diving insurance in case of an emergency.

    Pre-trip preparation for diving is also an important part of enjoying a safe scuba holiday. Make sure that you are in good physical condition and have dived recently. If your skills are a bit rusty we recommend taking a refresher course before traveling to an advanced destination like the Seascape. Become well acquainted with your computer and know how to deploy your surface-signaling device before you need to use it.
  • Codes of Conduct for Divers and Dive Operators