Located off the northwest of the peninsula of Papua New Guinea, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small isles surrounding the 4 main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. The marine life diversity in West Papua is considerably greater than all other areas sampled in the coral triangle of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Over 1,200 fish species, 600 coral species and 699 mollusc species.
Scuba diving in West Papua mostly takes the form of drift dives due to the moderate currents prevalent in the area, which provide nutrients for the myriad fish and coral. The variety of marine life can be staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs. At Mansuar it's highly likely you'll encounter large groups of manta rays and turtles. From the boat and often close to shore you may get the chance to don your snorkelling gear for some unforgettable interaction with resident pods of dolphins or even some passing whales. Visibility is normally very good but can vary and is normally at its best earlier in the day.
Most liveaboards visit Raja Ampat during the months of October until the end of April. During the months of July to mid-September, strong winds and rain can cause rough seas causing boats to schedule other areas to visit. October to April is a time when plankton blooms reduce visibility but bring greater numbers of manta rays and other pelagic to the area.