medas2005

medas2005

My Dive Map

Reviews (22)

Seven Seas

5
3
5
4

My teenage daughter and I spent 10 days on the Seven Seas in July of 2008. Getting there is relatively easy with a short flight out of Bali and landing in Labuan Banjo where the boat is ready to go. Of course, don't miss a chance to spend a few days in Bali. We dove Crystal Bay and got to see three mola mola fish which was a pleasant bonus for the trip.

While not specifically a family trip, the week was definitely more oriented in that way than any other liveaboard that I have been on. Jos Pet, the owner of the boat, had his entire family. Several other families from Bali were on the boat as well. Thus, it had a different feel to it than every other liveaboard that I have been on.

Despite this, the boat did a good job of accomodating divers such as myself who were a bit more experienced.

The land walks to see the Komodo dragons were spectacular. I have since seen these beasts in zoos and it is always disappointing to see them through the glass. One hike was fairly lengthy and we got to see some spectacular vistss. We also saw nesting sites were the dragons had their young. Impressive sites.

The rooms were pretty small, but comfortable. I do understand that since we were on the boat, the rooms have been redone (2 eliminated) to make for a bigger space. If you are going to Komodo, you have lots of options. If room size is important, I would compare square footage and get the space you want.

The food was very good and we had special meals on the top side of the boat that were especially good. On two nights we had "picnics" with a bonfire on small spits of sand. That was special and I don't remember doing that anywhere else.

Summer in Komodo means north and south maybe. North was great with some very classic sites such as Chimney Rock. These pinnacles are exposed to current which is good for fish but bad for humans. The crew was extremely careful to make sure the current was quiet when we got in. I am sure their caution was extra high because of the children on board. For that, this crew was actually perfect.

The setup for dive photography was good, but not fantastic as it is on the Damai and Arenui. Because of the folks on board (only one other very serious photographer), it worked fine. However, with a boat load of photo guys, it would have been very crowded.

The highlight of the trip was mantas. We had mantas on a half dozen dives. Even the couple of swimmers had mantas with them. A handful of gray tips were seen on several dives. The Cauldran dive was specacular and filled with purple corals. But the currents were strong so this is not a dive for the beginner. But my favorite dive was Batu Bolong which is out in the open current. Our boat was very careful with the currents. (Just two weeks earlier, two British divers had been swept away from here). It is also easy to go deep. We blew up a picture of my daughter's dive computer display to see that she was at 140 ft in depth.

Our only disappointment is that we were totally unable to go to the south at all. We had strong winds which kept us totally in the north. That wasn't awful, but we did miss half of the park. That was unusual, but it did happen occasionally.

The coral was very good, but not quite as good as Raja Ampat. This is probably the best shark diving in all of Indonesia and certainly a great place to see mantas.

Visited on 07/2008 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
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Lembeh Resort

5
5
5
4

The first good thing about the Manado/Lembeh area is the ease of getting there. While many of the best Indonesian diving requires multiple flights and layovers, the flight from Singapore to Manado is just a couple of hours on a nice Western standard plane. The previous time we were in the area, we took a non-stop from Jakarta to Manado on LionAir and that worked great as well although the accommodations on board were spartan to say the least. Whatever way you go, you will be greeted on the other side of customs by a representative of the Lembeh Resort hotel. Nothing like a friendly face when you land in a remote spot.

After a 2 hour drive and a half hour boat ride, you arrive at a lovely resort pasted up against a vertical wall. I happened to be here during the Japanese tsunami, and we had alerts, but no waves which was a relief. The resort rivals Anse Chastenet in St. Lucia for vertical drop, so be ready for a walk. I stayed in cabin #1 which is on the far right hand side of the resort. It was very private but a long walk and a lot of stairs to get to. There are several cabins that are lower down, but not many. If you don’t like stairs, I would go to KBR which is much flatter (I have not been there). The room was spacious and had a great view. A non-diving spouse would do just fine here. The bathroom and shower was outside which was fun and private.

Food was very very good. A European/American breakfast with lots of egg dishes and standard hotel fare. Lunches and dinner were more Indonesian with lots of chicken, fish, and vegetarian options. One never went hungry and even the deserts were very nice. We only had to pay extra for soft drinks and beer.

The hotel has a very lovely pool, but it does get crowded at times, especially if there are non-diving groups there. It wasn’t a place that I frequented, but it was nice for an afternoon dip and sunning.

The dive operation was absolutely first rate. They had an entire building for underwater photographers with a resident camera expert. I had some troubles with my camera and they rigged a fix that was clever, free, and kept me snapping the whole time. Any other place on the planet and I would have come home without photos. You really are left to dive according to your plan and dive computer. We always waited for those lucky enough to have air to stay down for up to 75 minutes. Several of the dives got fairly deep and a prize pygmy seahorse was at about 120 feet.

Of course, people go here for critter diving and it delivers. No guarantees but we saw mandarin fish, blue ring ottos, rhinopias, seahorses, ornate ghost pipefishes, wonder pus and coconut octopus which are really cool. It has to be the best mandarin site on the planet. They have little guys trained to ignore big camera lights.

Several of the coral sites are pretty good too. California Dreamin is a very good coral reef dive with lots of pretty soft coral. You have to ask to go there because it is a bit further away and most people want to see critters. OF course, don’t miss a night dive. We didn’t get to see a bobbit worm, but I did see some the most amazing octopus behavior ever.

Lembeh has a special program with the Manado airport that includes expedited service. I think it was $25 extra and it was worth every penny. Hopefully they continue that service

Visited on 03/2011 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
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Raja Ampat

5
4
5
5

For any serious diver, Raja Ampat should be the destination on the top of their list. No other spot in the world offers the variety of pristine coral reefs and reef fish that Raja offers. While liveaboards are the preferred way to see the region, several very nice and elegant dive resorts have popped up.

While not a part of the region per se, Triton Bay to the Southeast ranks as one of the most exotic dive areas of the world. Unfortunately, my attempt to make it there was foiled by sea pirates who try to extract money and gasoline from divers. While I understand the situation is better, it is still a risky spot to go (not for your life, but for your diving). Several people on my boat had been there and confirmed that it was very good, but visibility is limited and currents can be tricky. I still want to go there someday. One other note, Triton Bays boats leave from Kaimana instead of Sorong. A year before we were there a plane crashed on landing, so it is not without some risks.

The first area of south Raja Ampat of diving note is Daram Islands. Like the entire area, the seas are warm and the area is filled with schools of fish and clouds of antheas. It is very remote and rarely dived except by liveaboard, so it is outstanding.

Onward to the dive sites around Misool. This is the pinnacle of this area and therefore the pinnacle of the world's coral diving. The currents can be very strong here however. My teenage daughter got caught in a washing machine whirlpool current and had to be rescued by a divemaster. She is a good diver and was not in danger, but it scared me. One could easily spend a week here which is why the MIsool Eco Resort has been so successful. We stopped by there and had lunch and the place is heaven on earth. Even my non-diving wife would be blown away by the place I am sure. My favorite island was Boo and the Windows site is pictured on most picture books of the area. You get the idea.

We dove the Blue Mangroves which was great. A diver was bitten there once by a crocodile a few years earlier so our Indonesian guides refused to go into the water. We had one diver hang out as a lookout and we had a great time. My aforementioned daughter did stay in the boat here however.

The diving in the north part of Raja Ampat is not quite as good (by a small amount) as the diving in the Misool area. The center of this area is Cape Kri which is a point out into the Dampier Straight with very very good diving. You can easily spend a day here. About a 30 minute boat ride away is Manta Sandy which is supposed to be the most reliable place in the world to see mantas. I have been there 4 times and the only mantas showed up on the dive I skipped. Oh well. I did see the largest octopus that I have ever seen though and it kept us entertained for 30 minutes.

The Aboratek peer is also a very good site and I took an award winning photo there of a large school of fish that frequents the peer. The peer poles are covered with multi-colored soft corals which go all the way to the surface.

All in all you will see just about everything imaginable here. We saw 4 kinds of pygmy seahorses. We saw mandarin fish in several locations. We saw an enormous clam that was big enough to hold a small human. You see everything here except for sharks which hopefully will return some day. We did see a couple of black tips and there is hope, but not a lot to be seen right now.

We were there once in March and the weather was beautiful. We were there a second time in early July and the weather was perfect then as well although that is classified as off-season. I do know that the Misool area is not so good in our summer months.

Visited on 07/2012 - Submitted on 02/10/2014
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Damai I (Dive Damai Liveaboard)

5
5
5
4

In March of 2009 my daughter and I flew to Kaimana to board the Damai I for a trip to Triton Bay and then onto Misool. The trip got off to a rocky start because pirates were not allowing boats to go into Triton Bay so that part of our itinerary was deleted. Unfortunately the first two days of the trip were then spent cruising to the Misool area where the real good diving got underway. We did do some diving in route, but it was not all that great.

Much has been written about the actual diving in this area and you can see my region review elsewhere here. I also highly recommend the Burt Jones book on Raja Ampat diving. They had this available for sale on the boat and it is fantastic. It gives very detailed description of diving at each site and we used it throughout our trip to know what to expect.

The Damai boat is beautiful and at the best in the world class. The two cabins in the back (we had one of them) have balconies out the back. If you want to combine a honeymoon and a dive trip together, this would be the best. The bathroom was also enormous. All of the toiletries were great, kind of unusual for a dive boat.

The food was very good with a lot of variety. We had at least two choices for every meal with lots of fruit and salad items to go with the main courses. They had great post-dive snacks which were warm, chocolate, and tasty.

The Damai had two skifs for taking divers to dive sites. They were each designed to make it especially easy for divers to get in and out of the boat. If I am still diving at 80, I would want to dive on these boats. Safety was a big concern at all times and the divemasters always went out to each site before we dove to make sure that currents were acceptable. Even with that caution, currents in this area change quickly and we did have some strong challenges in the Misool area.

One of the real treats on board was that the boat offered pretty much open access to the on board massage service. It was great and my daughter got about two per day.

Because the boat only has 10 passengers, the groups were always small. We had one divemaster for each group of 4 or 5 people. They spent most of their time looking for pygmy seahorses or some other small things.

Tanks and gear stayed on he boat (designed by divers I am sure), so you never had to carry anything back and forth to the boat. As a result, the dive deck was calm and civilized.

Laundry was done every day and the boat would always wash anything that you wanted. It really cuts down how much you have to bring with.

Pretty much everyone on board was an underwater photographer and the boat had a large room with personal space for everyone. It was the best that I had ever seen on a boat. Of course, the subject matter under the water is simply the best in the world.

The ending was also nice. we had one bill which covered everything including airport taxes. So we didn't need to do anything but get our butts on the plane once we left the boat.

Visited on 03/2010 - Submitted on 02/08/2014
Read all Damai I (Dive Damai Liveaboard) Dive Liveaboard reviews

Maluku Divers Resort

5
4
5
3

My teenage son and I spent a week here in April of 2009. This typically is not a place where people stay for that long, but we had limited budget and air travel was pretty cheap at the height of the recession. We had been to Lembeh two years earlier and my son loved critter divers, so this seemed like a good alternative and it was.

Getting there is grueling, but the resort is quite close to the airport on Ambon (a beautiful airport at that), so once you make it here, it is quick to get to the resort. The cabins are quite large, but lacking a lot of ambience. A nice bed, a lot of place for your gear, and a very nice bathroom. The food was large Indonesian although the breakfasts were pretty much American/European. My son who is a picky eater got by just fine.

They have two dives every morning and one in the afternoon. The best muck diving is within a five minute boat ride of the resort. The dive operation facility and staff were world class. It was well organized and extremely professional. Several of our dive guides had learned their trade at Lembeh and they were great.

A couple of times a week, the resort took a trip to Tiga Palau which was about a 90 minute boat ride away. For those who like coral reefs, soft coral colors and small schools of fish, go there with your wide angle lens ready for some nice photo ops. We talked the resort in doing an extra trip there and we enjoyed it both times.

Of course, the main attraction here is the muck diving right in front of the resort. The Laha area where the resort is located is full of amazing creatures. I thought the density of "crazies" was a lot more than at Lembeh. Most dives, even good ones, have some down time and that just wasn't the case here. You dropped to the bottom and kept seeing stuff until your air ran out.

We were left on our own for the most part, unless we wanted help spotting critters. We did get help on occasion when special creatures like rhinopias were to be found.

If you have been to Lembeh or simply want a small town alternative to Lembeh, this is probably the best two miles of ocean to find all of those exotic creatures that you would like to photo. Because Maluku is really the only dive traffic here, we rarely saw other divers on any of the sites. Because this is a common departure point for Raja Ampat liveaboard, occasionally a liveaboard will pull in here, but that was only one day while we were there. I would say we saw 90% overlap with Lembeh, but several creatures were unique. We saw several clusters of harlequin shrimps which we did not see at Lembeh. We also saw a blue ring octopus, but I know that they are commonly sited in Lembeh. We also saw a lot of very pretty seahorses which we did not see in Lembeh. We also seemed to run into peacock mantis shrimps on elmost every dive and we also saw the very large ones with the piercing arms. I'm guessing if you stayed a month at both places that you would see the same critters, although the density here was much higher.

Visited on 04/2009 - Submitted on 02/08/2014
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Galapagos Islands

4
4
5
5

I think that it is best to start a review of the Galapagos Islands in Quito. The new airport is almost an hour away from the city, but it is worthwhile to spend at least one day there and maybe two or three. The old quarter of the city is a UN World Heritage Site and it beautiful to see.

One arrives into the Galapagos Islands on the small island of Baltra and are taken by ferry to the core island of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is by far the most populated of the islands and also contains quite a bit of agriculture. Some of the local farms represent the best spot to see the giant tortoises of Santa Cruz. Each island has its own tortoise species (Isabella has 4 I believe--one for each volcano). Puerto Aroyo is a town of about 25K inhabitants and is he commercial hub of the islands. Many local dive tours and island tours leave from here including ferries to other islands. The Darwin Research Center is also here and is a great chance to see many tortoises and species such as the land iguanas. Don't miss it--it is within a long walk of the city center.

We took a ferry to Isabella which was kind of a rough 2 hour ride to the very much smaller city of Puerto Villami on the SE corner of the island. Isabella is large and has incredible variety. We walked to the top of southernmost volcano. We went snorkeling near the town and saw white tips with sea lions harassing them. We saw thousands of marine iguanas and of course, blue boobies. The highlight of our stay was a long boat ride to the site of Los Tunneles which looks like some scene from another planet. Along the way, we saw dozen of mantas on the surface. We had a great chance to snorkel with them, eagle rays, and turtles everyway. This side tour is a bit expensive, but worth the price in every way. We got to see several of the Isabella tortoise species along one of our hikes. Diving is very good here as well, but not up to the standards of the outer islands.

Espanola is another island that is worth a visit if you have a chance. It is one of the oldest of the islands and is quite small. In July, we saw albatrosses mating which was quite interesting. Blue boobies were everywhere and several other species of birds that are not seen on the other islands. This is an island that is not frequented by divers because of its location, but if you have a chance to get here with a couple day extension, make the investment.

We did most of our diving from a liveaboard and most of them now take a very standard 7 day trip through the islands. We started in the Bartholomew area which is famous for its views featured in the Master and Commander movie. The diving in the area ifs very good, but not spectacular. Lots of snappers and lots of turtles.

After a long 1 day cruise, the boat arrives at Wolf and the fun starts. We did 5 dives there including a night dive which was very good with turtles sleeping and eels in abundance. The conditions were quite harsh here with lots of surge and rough surface conditions. We saw a half dozen eagle rays and too many hammerheads to count. It was a tough place to have a big camera though and it was easy to get bruised up on the rocks.

The next 1.5 days we spent at Darwin which is definitely world class. Dolphins on the surface. Orcas by the boat. Silky sharks circling at the "unsafety stop" and sharks pretty much everywhere. We saw two whale sharks, one of which bumped my son in the head with its tail. He didn't even see it coming but I got it on video.

We spent the last days of the trip off the coast of Fernandina where the water was cold, but full of marine iguanas. We also had orcas cruise by when we were diving. We also saw them on the surface. Never a dull moment. We finished at the NW corner of Isabella where the water was incredibly cold. We saw mola mola, giant seahorses, and the infamous red lipped batfish.

On the way back to port, we stopped for a couple of dives at Cousins Rock which is also a very nice site. We saw a half dozen eagle rays as well as a lot of turtles.

This destination is pretty incredible. A week of liveaboard is the only way to see the diving. An extra week is also worth the time spent to see a small sample of what is not underwater.

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
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Golden Dawn

5
3
5
3

The Golden Dawn trip to the Eastern Fields of Papua New Guinea was one of my bucket list destinations. I went there with my oldest daughter and we had a great trip. Getting there is actually pretty easy with a non-stop flight from tokyo which flies directly to Port Moresby where the boat leaves for the Eastern Fields.

The boat is small and staffing is adequate but pretty spartan. We had 12 passengers on board and a staff of about six. The rooms upstairs are just a smidge larger than those downstairs, but not much. The common area was also small, but did have good facility for my large camera. I understand that the boat has been significantly upgraded since our trip, so hopefully I will have a chance to go back and see it upgraded.

The food was middle of the road and kind of like a picnic. When you are 100 miles out to see, you can't go to a store to fill up your stocks of food.

Craig, the owner, is a bit of sea cowboy. He enjoys every dive as much as you do and on many dives leaves you on your own. More senior divers liked Craig and those who were used to more personal oversight found him a bit stand offish. We had one other dive master on the boat and we split in two small groups with Craig with one and the other divemaster for the other group. The diving is challenging with several sites having pretty significant currents. You should be self confident and in good shape. We often found ourselves alone with a dive buddy. Fortunately the visibility was well over 100 feet, so it was pretty easy to see where you are.

By far the best dive site of the trip is Carl's Ultimate which may just be the best dive site in the world. A pinnacle about the size of a football field, the coral, fish and visibility all come together for a spectacular dive experience. The clouds of anthias are just spectacular. We also saw swirls of barracudas and clouds of banner fish that I have not seen anywhere else.

Most of the diving was either pinnacles or passageways in our out of the atoll system. We would drop off at the outer edge of the opening and let the current (sometimes pretty strong) would carry us in. We would pretty much choose our depth because the reef went almost to the surface and went down to the bottom of the ocean.

We primarily saw very pretty reefscapes, some of the prettiest in the world with soft corals and enormous fans. We saw turtles on most dives as well. We saw a dozen or so sharks during our time there and Craig said that he often sees more.

We did not see mantas which is unusual. We did see a few sharks, but not a lot.

When back near shore we did a dive with a school of flashlight fish that come out of a wreck. Everyone sets down with no lights and the fish just start to pour out. Nothing like it anywhere in the world that I know of.

Visited on 03/2011 - Submitted on 02/07/2014

Palau

5
4
5
4

My first trip to Palau in late June of 2002 was a weather disaster. Two, not one, hurricanes hit and I never got to see the major dive sites.

First, Jellyfish Lake is absolutely amazing. It is highlighted in a major ad campaign right now and it always makes me want to go back. It is a hard climb to get to, so you will get good exercise to get there.

Blue Holes and Blue Corner are also great. Both of them live up to their world class status. I love the Blue Holes in particular although it was kind of crowded. I was a bit afraid of the Blue Corner given the current reputation, but it really was quite nice. The boat operators new how to get us to a great spot, we got hooked up with our reef hooks and then we were all set to watch gray tips patrol in front of us for 15 minutes.

German Channel was also a wonderful dive site. We saw mantas both time we were. One time it turned and did a barrel roll right over my head.

Peliliu Express was incredible the first time. We saw an annual aggregation of snappers that seemed to go on for miles. The second dive a few hours later was raked by currents and we pretty much held on to avoid being swept out to sea. Might be the scariest conditions that I have ever been in.

We had a very small cabin on our liveaboard boat because we booked late. The main living area was very nice with a great home theater where we watched violent HBO shows most evening.

The meals were great and the chef made beautiful carvings out of food that was very clever. I tell anyone who has only dived in the Caribbean, that Palau is the best place in the world to go to. You will see schools of fish, WWII wrecks, sharks, mantas and beautiful coral. I do recommend that you stay away in mid summer though. Being there during a hurricane is scary and no fun.

Visited on 03/2012 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
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Damai I (Dive Damai Liveaboard)

4
5
5
4

You really have to want to get here to make this trip. Our flight took us from Minneapolis to Tokyo to Jakarta to Ambon and then to Manokwari. The airport there is remote and far from anywhere. Our departure was delayed a full day because of riots in the town which was a bit scary. As a result of the 1.5 day delay, we missed a day of diving in the Cenderawasih Bay area which was OK, because it was pretty mediocre by Indonesia standards.

The Damai II is simply the nicest dive boat in the world. The rooms are enormous and spectacular. Many hotel rooms are not this nice. The boat had a nice home theater and we often watched movies in the evening. The food was very good and we had a lot of variety given the remoteness of the location. They had great post dive snacks. The only thing that they missed was popcorn and they promised to find it for future trips.

Of course, people come here to see whale sharks and this is the best place in the world to see them. I have also seen them at Darwin, but this blows that away. They are many, the water is warm and clear and you can literally spend the day watching them. We had two and sometimes three at a time. We parked our boat and just went in the water as we wanted without any real diving schedule. We also got to go on the fisherman platforms and feed the whale sharks from the surface. My memory of watching my daughter feed one of these beasts will always be with me.

We then headed to our next encounter which was with leatherback turtles which were laying their eggs on shore. Like the whale sharks, they did not disappoint. It was a life highlight for me. We also got to visit a native village and several of us played volleyball with the local people. I don't think that this was a standard part of the tour, but one of our crew members came from the village.

Finally, we moved on to Raja Ampat where we spent our final 3 days. Of course, the reefs and fish there are world class. If I could repeat just one dive trip in my life, I would redo this one. About the only negative was the time it took to get to Raja Ampat. It was a long cruise and took a full day without much diving.

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
Read all Damai I (Dive Damai Liveaboard) Dive Liveaboard reviews

Galapagos Aggressor III Liveaboard

5
4
5
5

Diving on a live aboard in the Galapagos should be considered to be on everyone's bucket list. I returned here after a decade away.

The boat is great and the accommodations are comfortable but not lavish. My son and I had plenty of room for sleeping and storing our clothes. Room care was great. The food was very good. In the top quartile of liveaboards that I have been on. They had great snacks after diving which is always appreciated.

Diving is now very restricted so liveaboards cannot dive in the central islands, only the north. The north includes Bartolme, northern Isabella, Fernandina, Wolf, and Darwin. We started out with a couple of days in the Bartolme area which is famous for its view. The diving in that are is full of fish and turtles. Of course, the core of the trip was in Wolf and Darwin. The Wolf conditions were quite harsh and challenging. Even at 60 foot depth, the surge was upwards of 10 feet so it was very hard to hold on. Hammers were in abundance though, so it was worth the effort.

The highlight was Darwin. We saw a pair of orcas which came right along side our boat. We saw hundreds of dolphins surrounding the boat. And we got to see whale sharks underwater. And then of course we saw hundreds of hammers above and below us as well as Galapagos sharks and silky sharks. The silkies can be a little scary as they circle you whir waiting for the boat.

In general, the water temperatures and visibility are not too bad. The exception are the dive sites on the NW corner of Isabela where it is freezer cold and visibility is very low. Fortunately you see lots of cool things like giant seahorses. The picture I have of the seahorse there is the most popular photp I have every taken.

This is just an incredible experience for anyone who likes to dive and loves nature. From the moment you arrive and get on the boat you will have fun. It really does not get any better than this.

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
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