Raja Ampat is known for having one of the highest marine biodiversities in the world. The main reason divers go to Raja Ampat is for the HUGE schools of fish that are frequently seen in areas of strong currents. Reef hooks should be a mandatory piece of equipment and you should know how to use them before you arrive. Reef hooks were available for sale on the Aggressor, but they did not have enough for everyone.
The Raja Ampat Aggressor is a new boat to the fleet, but it is far from being a new boat. It was formerly the Ocean Rover and was rebranded the Raja Ampat Aggressor in 2015. It is a scuba purposed and built liveaboard constructed in 2000 in Thailand. It was long considered one of the best liveaboards in Asia, but 16 years later it is a bit weathered, but it functions well as a liveaboard. The dive deck is huge with plenty of room for the 16 divers. All dives are done from 2 tenders which are easy to board and this allows the 2 groups to be separated by about 15 minutes making the dives less crowded.
The dive guides were good. Far from being the best I have had, but good. There was a dive guide in “training” on board and he was the most enthusiastic and most eager to point out interesting critters.
The rooms are all very similar when comparing like berths. We were on the top level. The room was bit weathered from years of use and the hot water had a few issues that were corrected by the staff.
The AC worked well even though it was held together with tape!
Each shower had a hot water heater that you could control the temperature. It worked, but it was a bit touchy.
. There was a small desk with power outlets and a nice storage shelf that went from the desk and over the top of the bed that was useful to hold computers, chargers and other small bits.
The food was good and considering the meal or diet special requests people had onboard, I was surprised at how well they did. One wanted Kosher, another gluten free, another no fish….. Plenty of special meals for a small kitchen and crew to deal with. The only meal that I felt was horrible was the steak. Toughest piece of meat I have had in a long time. Overall, the kitchen crew did a good job. Personally, I would prefer more local flavors and dishes and less western style food.
The Diving at Raja Ampat.
This is the reason you go. The diving is incredible. The currents are wicked and everyone in your group needs to be good on air and able to deal with currents. I can not stress this enough. If the dive guides have any questions about you abilities or someone else in your group, you will dive lower current areas. Remember, strong currents equals lots of coral and lots of fish. Raja Ampat is known for huge schools and these will be found in shallower waters with strong currents.
Most dives are less than 100 feet and there is rarely a reason to go below 60 feet. I spent quite a few dives in 15-30 feet of water as this is where the corals are flourishing. Raja Ampat may be known for large schools, but that does not mean they have no macro. Lots of critters can be found on most dives. Nudibranch, decorator crabs, pipefish, seahorses and more.
You will also see wobbegong sharks, crocodile fish and maybe even a walking shark!
Raja Ampat is not easy to get to and it is not cheap. But it is worth the effort to go as what you will see is incredible.
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