Located to the northwest of the New Guinea island of Indonesia, the Raja Ampat archipelago is comprised of over 1,500 small, beautiful and isolated islands. It’s also considered part of the Coral Triangle which contains the richest marine biodiversity on Earth. Its beauty, diversity and abundant marine life is what makes a Raja Ampat liveaboard trip the ultimate dream of any diver.
When it comes to what you can see underwater, Raja Ampat surprises even the most well-traveled diver. Diverse is the best adjective to describe this place. It has soft corals, hard corals, caves, WWII wrecks, drop offs, shallow reefs, black and white sand bottoms, currents, calm waters, macro diving and big fish. In other words, if you don’t like diving here, you might not like diving at all!
Diving in Raja is not for budget travelers. However, most of the expenses are related to logistics and transportation, not the diving itself. However, if you are going to pay to come all this way, you better get to dive and explore what the islands have to offer and that’s when a liveaboard is your best option.
Being a prime destination for scuba diving, there are many diving liveaboards operating in Raja Ampat. To help you choose the right boat for preferences and budget, we’ve put together this quick guide that shows you the best boats and some things to consider when it comes time to book.
THE BEST RAJA AMPAT LIVEABOARD BOATS OF 2017 – A COMPARISON
4 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DIVING WITH A LIVEABOARD IN RAJA AMPAT
Every diver is different just as every boat is not the same. Depending on your preferences, budget and schedule, some liveaboard trips might suit you better than others. The following are some important aspects to consider when choosing a boat for you and your dive buddies.
1. WHAT MONTH OF THE YEAR YOU PLAN TO GO?
Liveaboards operate in Raja Ampat between October and April, which is the dry season in Indonesia. However, it’s possible to dive between May and September, as liveaboards tend to go further east to Cenderawasih Bay, where you can dive with whale sharks in sheltered dive sites.
The visibility gets reduced between October and April when the plankton blooms, but that also brings greater numbers of manta rays to the area.
2. WHAT MARINE LIFE DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
If you’re coming to Raja Ampat to see some specific marine life, you don’t need to worry about what specific month you come.
Most of marine creatures can be spotted throughout the year. However, remember this is pure nature and you’re not diving in an aquarium. When it comes to wild animals, you always need a bit of luck to spot them!
3. LOOKING FOR SOME EXCLUSIVITY OR REDUCED GROUP SIZES?
Raja Ampat is a remote place so you can expect dive sites to be uncrowded. However, there are some liveaboards that cater to smaller groups. Tiger Blue is one of them.
4. WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Liveaboards in Raja Ampat range from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the type of boat, duration of the trip and itinerary. Particularly, there are many possible itineraries and trip lengths, so make sure you check them out when comparing several operators.
Also, don’t forget to check what fees are not included in the price of the trip before you book. There is normally a “Port & Park fee” that is not included (around $200 – $250) and some liveaboards also charge for nitrox, hotel tranfers and fuel surcharges.
Did you see any boat that interests you? In the following section you’ll find the main features of each boat has with a link to check the latest prices and availability.
VIDEO: SCUBA DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT
RAJA AMPAT LIVEABOARD REVIEWS
THE BEST 10 RAJA AMPAT LIVEABOARD BOATS OF 2017
Photo Credit: Indo Siren Liveaboard
The 40 meter long Indo Siren is a luxury liveaboard with a maximum capacity of 16 divers and it’s run by a crew of 12. It has 8 large cabins equipped with individual climate control, entertainment systems and en suite bathrooms. With an air conditioned lounge and cocktail bar, outdoor covered deck and sun deck, this boat offers plenty of space to rest and relax between dives. One of the best things is that they provide a full set of scuba gear (except for dive computers) and nitrox for free.
KM RAJA MANTA
Photo Credit: White Manta Liveaboard
The KM Raja Manta liveaboard is 36 meters long, has capacity for up to 24 divers and it’s run by a crew of 14. The cruise rate includes 3 buffet-style meals and 2 snacks per day. There are several roomy common spaces as an air conditioned lounge with a plasma TV and DVD and a large sun deck where you can relax and chat with other cruisers between dives. A great liveaboard run by a professional company.
Photo Credit: Arenui Liveaboard
The Arenui is a boutique liveaboard for those looking for a 5-star service and comfort. Its 8 cabins all have individual climate control and en suite bathrooms, and have been beautifully decorated with local handicrafts to reflect the culture of Indonesia. Fresh international and local cuisine is prepared by renowned chefs, an outdoor sky restaurant, a large sundeck, massage and spa treatments are available. Arenui is absolutely the best option to dive in Raja Ampat in luxury.
Photo Credit: La Galigo Liveaboard
At 33 meters long, La Galigo is a beautiful liveaboard built by local craftsmen from South Sulawesi in 2012. It contains plenty of space for guests as a roomy diving lounge, sun deck, and other outdoor areas. It has 7 private cabins, all with a private climate control, to accommodate up to 14 divers. This makes La Galigo one of the best options for small group liveaboard diving in Raja Ampat.
© Copyright by Tomas Reich, used through Pindito Liveaboard
The Pindito is a liveaboard that caters to a maximum of 16 divers with a crew of 17. All the cabins have climate control, private bathroom and daily housekeeping service. They provide up to 4 dives a day, from a spacious dive deck equipped with gear storage and rinse tanks and every trip has 3 diving guides.
Photo Credit: Amira Liveaboard
The big boat (52 meters long) of Amira is a fantastic and affordable option to dive in Raja Ampat from the comfort of a liveaboard. It has a maximum capacity of 18 divers, with 8 double and 2 single cabins, all equipped with climate control, en suite bathrooms, a fan and a mini-safe. They offer 4 day-dives and 1 night-dive per day. A great option to dive in comfort without blowing your budget.
RAJA AMPAT AGGRESSOR
© Copyright by Wayneworks Marine, used through Aggressor Liveaboard
At 30 meters long, the Raja Ampat Aggressor has a maximum capacity of 16 divers all the cabins are particularly roomy for a diving boat and they all have their own bathroom and air conditioning. There’s an indoor saloon, an upper shade and a sundeck to relax and chat with the other divers between dives.
PEARL OF PAPUA
Photo Credit: Pearl of Papua Liveaboard
The Pearl of Papua is a 30 meters long liveaboard with a maximum capacity of 14 divers and run by a crew of 12. It’s the least expensive boat on this list and you can find trips under 3,000 USD depending on the itinerary and month of the year. But the Pearl is not just a cheap trip, it offers premium air conditioned cabins and en suite bathrooms, onboard massage and spa, delicious meals and thrilling dive adventures. A fantastic option for the budget traveler.
Photo Credit: Tiger Blue Liveaboard
Small groups and friendly crew is what best describes the Tiger Blue liveaboard. It offers 5 cabins and can accommodate up to 14 guests. All cabins include air conditioning, en suite bathrooms with showers, daily housekeeping and laundry services. There are also large deck beds, dining deck, top sun deck and an indoor salon. If you are looking for an affordable boutique liveaboard with small groups, this is the boat you’re looking for.
SEA SAFARI 6
Photo Credit: Sea Safari 6 Liveaboard
At 29 meters long, the Sea Safari 6 is a stylish boat that provides liveaboard trips to a maximum of 20 divers through 10 air-conditioned cabins, each with en-suite bathrooms, and built over 4 decks to offer space and comfort. The KLM Sea Safari 6 also has an air-conditioned restaurant and lounge area, with 32” LCD TV and DVD player, a sun deck, and a stunning outside bar area where you can watch the beautiful sunsets or talk beneath the stars.