During July 2016 I took a fabulous dive trip to Komodo National Park in Indonesia with Ray of Hope Expeditions, to document manta rays in the area. Dr Andrea Marshall, the foremost Manta Ray scientist and co founder of Marine Megafauna Foundation, does several of these expeditions every year, and I absolutely love these trips, and I travel solo! I wrote about my Komodo trip extensively, and the diving was so intensely beautiful, I decided I just could not wait to get back and do more diving in Indonesia. So, in February 2017, I went to Raja Ampat with Andrea, and once again stayed on The Arenui, a Boutique Liveaboard, the most luxurious dive boat I have ever been on!
Video by Andrea Esty.
Where is Raja Ampat? It is in West Papua, on the Bird’s Head Peninsula of Indonesia which consists of over 1,500 islands! Raja Ampat means “four kings”, and the four kings are islands, Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo. We went to all four of the kings. The kings are named for local mythology that tells about a woman who finds seven eggs. Four of the seven eggs hatch and become kings that occupy four of Raja Ampat biggest islands while the other three become a ghost, a woman, and a stone. What is so great about Raja Ampat? It is part of the Coral Triangle, which contains the richest marine biodiversity on earth. The diving I have done in Indonesia confirms that there is life…on every inch of the bottom of the sea. Thankfully, the warming ocean temps and acidification seems to be better tolerated by the reefs of Indonesia, for unknown reasons. I don’t know if it will always be so, but for now, the area is doing well.
I flew Japan Airlines (incredible service!) from Dallas Ft Worth to San Diego, to Narita, Japan, to Jakarta, Indonesia, then I rested! I spent one night in Jakarta, just to catch my breath. The next day I boarded Garuda Indonesia (the national airline of Indonesia which is quite nice) in Jakarta, connected in Makassar, then arrived in Sorong, Indonesia. Ronald, one of the dive masters on The Arenui, was waiting to greet us at the airport. It was lovely to arrive onboard, go to the cabin I would be sharing with Andrea, and wait for the trip to begin! I love science expeditions.
The start of a trip is always exciting, and it was fun to see the cruise directors, Debbie and Jerry, and all of the crew and staff I remembered from July 2016. Another passenger, Elias, who was also on the Komodo trip was onboard as well. There was a group of six fun loving, dive crazy women, and we were all anxious to see manta rays! So, off we went!
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