Raja Ampat, or the the “Four Kings”, Archipelago is located off the northwest tip of Indonesia’s West Papua province on the island of New Guinea..

I believe that Raja Ampat hosts the world’s richest and healthiest coral reefs.

The eastern half of the island is occupied by Papua New Guinea. Comprised of the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo, and of over 1,500 small islands, Raja Ampat Archipelago is among the world’s top places for diving.

Scientific studies show that Raja Ampat has the richest underwater biodiversity in the world. Thanks to abundant and strong currents around the region, coral larvae and plankton provide food stocks not only for this region but also for the Indian and Pacific Oceans. One thousand, five hundred and eight species of fish, 537 types of coral, and 699 crustacean species were observed in the region, which corresponds to almost 75% of all the world’s species.

To reach these beauties, you need to take a long flight to Jakarta, and then another 6-hour flight to Sorong. When you get to your diving boat, you will have all these wonders to yourself. Though diving may be difficult at times due to currents, it is definitely worth the difficulty. The region is protected under national park status by the Indonesian government.

I believe that Raja Ampat hosts the world’s richest and healthiest coral reefs. Soft and hard corals of all colors cover the sea floor thanks to the abundant nutrition provided by the plankton pushed through by the currents. The reefs also owe their healthiness to the lack of residential development nearby, which implies no waste is being thrown into the water.

MATAN    (24/02/2013)
Departure from Sarong, and our first dive; a shallow night dive, ideal for checking our equipment. Between the sandy ground and hard coral sections are box crabs, baby squid, an abundance of nudibranchs, and sea snails.

SARDINE REEF    (25/02/2013)
One of the most beautiful diving spots in Dampier Strait. Schools of fish like canned sardines everywhere. It is a healthy coral reef with schools of sweetlips fish, barracuda, and -of course- manta…
Evident in its name…a wonderful diving point. The schools of fish include leer fish, batfish, and glassfish, which cover almost an entire coral heel. This school was followed by the parade of six mantas. A memorable moment for a photographer…

MIOSKON    (26/02/2013)
A very healthy reef and a dive with currents. Bluestripe snappers are everywhere. You may easily find carpet sharks resting underneath the coral heels.
An amazing diving point where you can see simultaneously see plenty of schools of fish all at once.
It is filled with bluestripe snappers, leer fish, multi-colored soft corals and sponges.
A diving point that I will always remember. There are two big rocks on the ground, and cleaner fish waiting to clean the mantas. Giant manta rays park next to these rocks, and you can have photos taken with these gorgeous giants that you can almost stroke.

NORTH TIP    (27/02/2013)
Want to see a pygmy seahorse? This is the right place. A calm diving point, ideal for macro shots.
Another place to see pygmy seahorses is Batanta Island. Besides the sleeping wobbegongs, I have also seen the largest giant oyster ever.
Batanta Island offers poor visibility, but plenty of macro creatures. For those who enjoy the little things…

MAGIC MOUNTAIN    (28/02/2013)
During the morning dive in the clean blue water of Misool Island, we watch the turtles along with barrel sponges and sea fans.
Towards the end of the dive, we watch a small islet ascending the reef and the fish in the blue through two big windows underwater. This is another memorable point decorated by colorful coral like a flower garden.
An ideal place for night diving. Decorator crabs living on sea fans are hunting, parrotfish are sleeping, and the shrimps are many-colored. The perfect macro paradise.

BABY ROCK    (01/03/2013)
This dive was accompanied by currents as well as sea fans and hundreds of thousands of small fish around them. An ideal point both for wide-angle and macro shooting. A Raja Ampat classic…
The dive began with a school of barracuda and continued with batfish, leer fish and small schools of fish. Dozens of anemones can be seen together at the end of the dive.

HAPPY ENDING   (02/03/2013)
We returned after deep blue diving in Misool, and we are back in Batanta. We pursue macro creatures on the sandy ground. A beautiful spot where each moment is full of surprises.
The last dive took place in a macro heaven with mantis shrimps, ghost pipefish, anemone fish, dozens of nudibranch species, filefish… An ultimate finale, and the end.

The world we live in places many responsibilities upon us. We need to work very hard to have a happy family life, to succeed at our work, to leave a positive trace in this world, to feel the importance of loving and being loved, and to experience the feeling called happiness- which is defined differently by everyone. We get tired both physically and mentally…sometimes we want to run away, seeking a calm world to make us happy: away from everything.

We are very lucky, we friends who seek this calm but exciting world underwater. As Sometimes team, we have performed dives in the top diving places of the Red Sea, the Maldives, and finally Raja Ampat for the past three years. We have documented what we have seen in order to compile them into a book. The last book of the trilogy presents Indonesia’s Raja Ampat region as the world’s healthiest reefs and the richest underwater diversity.

What we want to share with you in the series of “Once upon a time – Sometimes” is quite clear: our underwater world is very colorful and contains impressive life stories. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, we met these creatures and shared what we have seen with you. We wanted to leave a document, some trace to the future. We are afraid for the people in centuries to come: maybe they will be surprised to find canned tuna and wonder what this creature is. Our hope is that people who have a chance to review these books a century later will say, “Fortunately, we still have these beauties in the oceans and the seas. People fulfilled their duty, and managed to preserve these creatures, which have lived in our world for millions of years.”