Cenderawasih Bay is a large bay in north east Province of Papua, the western part of the bay was declared a marine national park since 2002. Cenderawasih, along with Raja Ampat and Triton Bay, makes up the Bird’s Head Seascape. Diving in this region allows you to experience some of the finest coral gardens and dramatic vertical walls, and it is the only place in the world where it's possible to spend hours diving or snorkelling with multiple Whale Sharks. Finally, there are numerous Japanese wrecks scattered around the bay from the WWII.
Cenderawasih Bay also has a few unique features in Indonesia’s pantheon of rich reefs. The bay was geologically isolated until recently, and if you look at a map you’ll see that it is still somewhat confined. Because of its isolated location this bay is protected from the Pacific currents which promote the gathering of certain endemic species. In Cenderawasih Bay you can encounter in the shallows species that normally live in deeper waters. The good muck diving will keep the lovers of the tiny and strange critters busy, they will enjoy searching for pigmy seahorses, tiger prawns and frog fish among other species.
The weather in Cenderawasih Bay is commonly rainy and stormy from February through May, the best time to dive is mid June through November every year, whale sharks are resident year round. Water temperature is between 26º - 28º C, cooler in the north area, 3 to 5mm wetsuit is reccommneded. Visibility is variable and averages 15m, this region is ideal for shooting wide angle, but there are very interesting macro subjects too. Tidal currents can be encountered on atoll and reef sites, but conditions are reliably mild where the whale sharks are found.
Typical dive areas in Cendrawasih Bay
The Bagans, Kwatisore : Now that is the reason why most people come this far… Whale Sharks are all around, the population of whale sharks here is mainly sub-adult males and the prescence of a food source means that they keep circling around the fishing platorms, divers can get a up-close experience.
Mangguar, Busurua and outer Atolls : Tanjung Mangguar is a beautiful and interesting site, plenty of fish and with the reef covered in soft and whip corals, providing a great habitat for the resident fish and cleaning stations to attract a large number of fish including Barracudas, rainbow runners, jacks and even sharks, manta rays and mobula rays can be spotted regularly!
Yapen Island : Dry Yapen is an underwater seamount where the currents can become strong. With beautiful huge soft corals and the reefs teaming with life. Right next to Yapen is a big plateau extending the beach as a ridge, with sandy slopes falling to the deep, or single standing bommies, with nice corals.
Padaido Islands : The Padaido Islands offer diverse diving ranging from walls to slopes, pinnacles, plateaus and even wrecks. Fish life such as small critters, reef fish, schools of jacks and barracudas as well as juvenile sharks. There is a great muck or night dive under the concrete pier from Mios Wundi village with many critters to be found.
Biak Area : The "Flying Catalina" site is a plane wreck in good condition just outside of Biak and easy to dive. Shallowest depth is 19 meters and the deepest at 30. The plane is in one piece, in a good shape with big black corals, gorgonians, big lion fish, glassfish, shrimps and many more. The "Pasar Ikan" (Fish Market) site Is a good muck dive with critters such as Cockatoo waspfish, ghost pipefish etc.
Pulau Auri & Tanjung Ayami, Roon Island : Pulau Auri features a shallow ridge, visible at low tide. Large rocks and boulders covered in both soft and hard coral. Some of the most prolific green Tubastrea hard corals of Cenderawasih grow here. This site is great for spotting giant moray eels and lobsters and up in the shallows we often find boxer crabs. Tanjung Ayami is nice boulder dive with good coral growth and lots of Fusiliers and Barracudas.
Manim Island : On Manim Island are more than 7 Landing crafts from the war that sit on a white sand slope decorated with beautiful corals from 40+ meters to a shallow 5 meters.
Numfoor : A wall and steep slope with good coral growth surrounded by clear, blue water and big fish. Baby Grey reef sharks, white tips, barracudas, tunas, big groupers, jacks, snappers can easily be spotted. The fish life is particularly good with some current running.
Manokwari's & Mansinam’s shipwrecks : Many Japanese shipwrecks from the 2nd World War lie on the bottom in the Manokwari and Mansinam area. Bombed by the Americans in May 1944, these old warships are now the main attraction for divers in this part of Cenderawasih bay.