Cenderawasih Bay is located in West Papua, Indonesia. On June 2018 I had my first trip there and got amazed with the landscape, people, aquatic life, pristine reefs and unique biodiversity.
From WW2 wrecks to hard coral gardens, it’s all very unexplored and remote, comparing to Raja Ampat, not too far from there. During the 2 months we were there, we crossed paths with only other 3 dive liveaboards, not at the same time.
We started and finished our trips in Manokwari, the main city, where also we got our provisionings. Manokwari has a small airport and has daily flights from Sorong and Makassar. So if you are planning to come from Bali or Jakarta, there will be at least 1 or 2 connections to get there. It’s a long way but believe me, it worth!
Definitely the best way to dive Cenderawasih Bay is on a Liveaboard, from Manokwari or Biak. There is a small dive center located close to Nabire, but I have no reliable information about it.
WHAT TO SEE
The remoteness of villages and the landscapes combined with the lack of civilization, gives us the feeling of a parallel world, lost in time, somewhere in the past. Away from the main cities, there’s no internet connection and barely have phone signal. Those people still live a real and simple life. It means, walking around these remote villages and talking to the local people, is definitely something not to miss. My favorite village was Napan-Yaur, located close to Tanjung Mangguar. One thing that called my attention is how neat and clean those villages are. They really care about their home.
You can check one of my videos, which starts with the kids from Napan-Yaur.
Landscapes are also impressive with white sand beaches, hills covered in green, full of birds singing in the morning.
Below the surface, is where things gets even better. Cenderawasih Bay is house of many endemic species of corals and fish. Also some species of fish evolved in a different way inside the bay, developing different colors and behaviours. At the bay we can easily see some deep water species like the Ornate Angelfish or Burgges Butterfly at depths of 15m. Usually those fish live below 50m.
The hard coral gardens are really impressive and old. There are some healthy coral heads about 3m high. Gigantic Barrel Sponges complete the underwater scenery together with colorful soft corals.
On the top of all this, comes the highlight of Cenderawasih Bay: the Whale Sharks.
The Whale Sharks encounters happens at the Bagans – the traditional indonesian fishing platforms.
For many generations, fishermen used to give part of their catch to the Whale Sharks, as they believed the sharks were bringing them good luck. Now the liveaboard boats buy part of their catch and give to Whale Sharks, so they hang around with divers and snorkelers.
Whale Sharks at the bagans are very friendly, curious and used to people. It’s definitely an amazing and unique experience to be so close to those giants for so long.
Click here for more Cenderawasih videos.