Cheng

Cheng

My Dive Map

Reviews (5)

Raja Ampat

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Raja Ampat is truly a divers' paradise. It is picturesque both below and above the sea. It is not easy to get to and those that brave the journey will truly be rewarded. Most trips to Raja Ampat will start from Sorong in West Papua. The easiest way to get to Sorong is via Makassar in South Sulawesi or Jakarta. When I last traveled to Sorong in April 2013, I took a direct flight on Express Air from Jakarta at 1:10am.

To truly maximize your dive experience, I would suggest a liveaboard for at least 8 days. Raja Ampat covers nearly 50,000 kmsq and traveling from one island to the next is by sea. Misool in the South has some amazing coral life. You will find some very colorful dive sites here. Pygmy seahorses, whitetip reef sharks, trevallies, fusiliers, barracudas, jacks, glass sweepers, groupers, sweetlips, bumphead wrasses and snappers are common here. Some of my favorite dive sites are Boo Windows, Magic Mountain and Farondi Caves. Some of my most memorable dives are at Magic Mountain. When the time is right and the current picks up, you will find hunting whitetip sharks, bluefin and giant trevallies patrols the reef.

Balbulol is a great place for non-diving activities such as kayaking and speedboat tours. The limestone islands seem to be “floating” above water and there are secluded lagoons you can swim in.

To the North, some of the popular dive sites are the salt water mangroves of Yangeffo, Manta Sandy, Mioskon, Blue Magic, Cape Kri and Sardines. Blacktip reef sharks, large schools of sweetlips, fusiliers, trevallies, barracudas, jacks and turtles are common here. Some of the diving here is like diving in fish soup! So packed with fish you would not even know where to look. Wobbegongs and epaulette sharks are common in Yangeffo and Manta Sandy is a manta cleaning station. While waiting for the mantas to show up, explore the sands and you might find sea moths, upside down jellyfish and pipefish among others.

Papua has some beautiful birds of paradise. Some Raja Ampat liveaboards might offer guests an option to see them.

Water temp: 28 – 30C
Recommended for: Advanced divers
Dive conditions: Mild to strong currents
Note: Raja Ampat waters are rich with plankton that attracts fish so, visibility at some sites is not great. A reef hook is useful for many of the dives here.

Visited on 04/2013 - Submitted on 02/23/2014
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Lembeh

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5
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If you are into underwater photography, chances are you would have heard of Lembeh Straits. Located 2 hours away from Manado, Lembeh Straits is full of weird and wonderful critters. It is a true macro photographers' dream. There are many species of nudibranchs here and they range from the tiniest to the largest nudibranchs that you would have ever seen. Some of the critters you could see here are skeleton shrimps, pygmy seahorses, wonderpus, flamboyant cuttlefish, scorpionfish, frogfish, bengai cardinal fish, electric file clams, emperor shrimps, Lembeh sea dragons, lizard fish, bobtail squids and the list goes on.

Most dive sites are sandy bottom so maintaining good buoyancy is important. You can do a day trip from Manado or there are accommodation choices in Lembeh Straits as well. The eagle eyed dive guides here are amazing at spotting super tiny and camouflaged critters and are great with photographers. Be sure to pack your macro lenses and extra memory cards.

Some of my favorite dive sites are Nudi Retreat and Nudi Falls. At these sites, you can almost spend all your bottom time in less than 12m of water and not get bored. The water temperature here is cooler than nearby Manado or Bunaken. Dives are usually shallow and long so a full suit would be my recommendation. I would recommend at least 4 days of diving and be sure to include some night dives as well. You will not be disappointed.
Bitung is the closest town to Lembeh. There are small supermarkets, ATMs, small eateries or warungs. My favorite place to eat in Bitung is Mutiara Minang for BBQ seafood.

Water temp: 26 - 28C
Recommended for: Divers of all levels with good buoyancy, macro photography enthusiasts.
Dive conditions: None to mild currents.

Visited on 11/2013 - Submitted on 02/22/2014
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Manado and Bunaken

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2

With more than 30 dive sites, Manado and Bunaken attracts thousands of divers year round. A 4-hour direct flight from Singapore, lots of accommodation choices with many reliable dive operators, makes Manado and Bunaken a real divers' haven.

Dive sites around Manado are mainly reef and muck diving. Most reefs are covered with various species of corals, sponges and crinoids. At these reefs, you will find your usual tropical reef fishes, octopus, shrimps and crabs.
In the shallow muck sites, frogfish, mimic octopus, seahorses, gobies, dragonets, flounders are some of the usual suspects you will find. My favorite dive sites are Underwater parking area and Buluh.

A short boat ride away, you have the islands of Bunaken, Siladen, Manado Tua, Montehage and Nain. The wall dives here are breathtaking. Walls are covered with various species of corals, large sponges, gorgonian fans and teeming with fishes. Many of the walls are more than 100m deep and visibility here are generally 15 – 30 m. Some of the marine life you could see here are turtles, giant Napoleon wrasse, large humphead parrotfish, occasional sharks, triggerfishes, butterfly fishes, coral groupers, nudibranchs, longfin banner fishes, coral groupers, crinoid shrimps, sweetlips, orang utan crabs, wire coral gobies and shrimps, boxer crabs if you know where to look, giant clams, pygmy seahorses and I have been lucky enough to see eagle rays as well. Some of the more popular sites are Muka Kampung, Sachiko, Lekuan and Fukui.

The possibilities in Manado and Bunaken are endless. I have had dolphin encounters traveling between Manado and Bunaken, dive with dugongs in Manado and have during sunset and night dives seen many weird planktons, mating mandarin fishes, cuttlefish, squids, all sorts of shells, stargazers and a variety of marine life that I can't even begin to ID.

This is where you want to dive if you trying out underwater photography. There are many subjects to choose from and many of the dive guides here are great with photographers. Bunaken is great for snokeling too.

Manadonese food are generally very spicy. Some of my favorites here are seafood, satay, mee bakso, roast pork, BBQ fish with sambal and nasi kuning.

Water temp: 28 - 30C
Recommended for: All divers including young divers
Dive conditions: None to mild currents

Visited on 11/2013 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
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Galapagos Aggressor III Liveaboard

4
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5
4

The Aggressor II sails from Baltra, which is a small island located north of Santa Cruz. We were greeted at Baltra airport by Walter and Ruben who would be our dive guides for the week. The yacht was anchored a short drive from the airport.

The dive deck was clean and spacious. It has 2 fresh water showers for after dives, separate rinse tanks for cameras, storage area under each divers' station for your dive equipments and sufficient space for all divers to kit up at the same time. Adjacent to the dive deck, there are camera tables, battery charging stations, warm towels and tea/ coffee making facility. Very handy for some of the shorter surface intervals.

There is a library of books, DVDs and Blu-rays in the air-conditioned lounge. There are Galapagos wildlife and marine ID reference books which were very helpful.

The guest rooms are sufficient but not luxurious in terms of space. The rooms and toilets are clean, hot water shower works and beds were comfortable. Our large suitcases were stored elsewhere on the boat and there is a small wardrobe in the room for clothes etc. Basic toiletries, robes, bath and hand towels, drinking water bottle were provided. The crew leave chocolates and biscuits in our room everyday!

There are fresh fruit juice, cereals, muesli and fruits that you can help yourself to for breakfast. Pancakes, french toast, bacon and eggs are available as well. Lunch comprise of a starter, a selection of local and international dishes served buffet style and dessert. Dinner is a sit-down 3 course affair, starter, main and dessert. Some of the highlights were a BBQ, roast turkey, grilled slipper lobster and some popular Ecuadorian dishes. There are light snacks and warm drinks after each dive. The food were delicious and the portions generous. There are fresh fruits, chocolates, candies and various snacks available in the lounge at all times. Did I mention that sodas, beer and wine are available at no extra cost?

Each diver was issued a dive flag, air horn and ENOS GPS diver locator. There are 2 dive guides for all 15 of us on this trip. One guide would lead and the other follow at the end. I must admit that I was a little apprehensive at first but there was not one dive where I felt unsafe. When we surfaced after each dive, the panga was never far. Most of the 9 men crew would always be on deck to help us get in and out of the pangas and help with our cameras and equipments. Both our guides, Walter and Ruben were attentive and were always ready to answer any questions we may have. All crew were very knowledgeable of the area and are the friendliest and warmest lot i've met on a liveaboard so far.

Some of the best dives we had on this trip were at Wolf Island, Cabo Marshall and Punta Vicenta Roca. There were a lot of hammerheads and galapagos sharks at Wolf and Cabo Marshall. We saw lots of mantas, eagle rays, large schools of salemas, barracudas, sea lions, seahorses and white tip sharks at Cabo Marshall as well. There were a few mola molas, red lipped batfish, galapagos bumphead sharks, marble rays, sea lions and cormorants at Punta Vicente Roca. I really liked Aggressor II's itinerary and felt each day's diving was better than the last. 2 land trips were included in the trip as well.

One of the big plus diving with Aggressor in Galapagos is you get 35kg allowance for check in luggage for your domestic flight to Galapagos. Aerogal only allow 23kg per passenger. Overall, my friends and I were very satisfied and would not hesitate to dive with Aggressor again.

Total dives: 21
Water temp: 17 – 26C
Recommended for: Experienced divers with 100+ dives or more
Dive conditions: Mainly drift dives, blue water safety stop
Nitrox highly recommended

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
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