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Raja Ampat trip report, Gaia liveaboard, January 2020

Discussion in 'Indonesia' started by Erwin Poliakoff, Feb 14, 2020.

  1. Erwin Poliakoff

    Erwin Poliakoff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    83
    139
    33
    My wife and I recently returned from a wonderful trip on the Gaia Love liveaboard. It was our second trip on this boat; we had been on it in March 2019 for a previous Raja Ampat sailing, and liked it so much that we decided to do it again. It was just as good the second time around. Unlike most of the liveaboards in Indonesia, this is a steel boat, and it is wider and more stable in the water than the more traditional phinisi style boats. It was comfortable, well-run, well-staffed, and great to be a guest on this boat again. We left home on January 18, and arrived in Sorong on a Garuda redeye flight early on the morning of January 21. We spent that day and night at the Swiss BelHotel, which was comfortable and reasonably priced (about $65US/night, breakfast included). We got on the boat January 22, and were surprised to learn that there were only a total of 12 guests on this sailing. I do not have pictures of the boat from this trip, but the website (DIVE GAIA - A new breed of liveaboard) gives an accurate picture of what the boat is like. Getting on the boat, you notice that the dive deck is unusually spacious. Each diver has a wide station to store his or her gear, and even has a personal camera rinse tank. Very nice touch. We were in Room 10 on the upper deck, and rooms on this deck have individual balconies and floor to ceiling windows. We did not dive the first day. The usual dive schedule started on our second day, which consists of the following: cold pre-breakfast from 6-7am, first dive at approximately 7:30am, hot breakfast, second dive at 10:30am, lunch, third dive at 3pm, dinner at 7pm for divers not doing night dive, 6:30 night dive (followed by dinner for guests doing night dive). There are three skiffs carrying 4 divers and the dive guide. Each day you rotate to a different dive guide (there were only three on this sailing as there were only 12 divers). The ratio of 4 guests per guide is their standard, though. The food was excellent, and the service was first-rate in every respect. Raja Ampat has our favorite diving in the world, and this trip was no exception. The reefscapes were great. The manta sightings were pretty slim on this trip, but that is just luck of the draw. There is also plenty of macro opportunities, but the main attraction for us was the healthy and vibrant reef vistas. We did nine days of diving, and loved the trip. We plan to visit some other Indonesian diving areas on this boat in the future.

    Here are some examples of the scenery and reef life.

    49471800353_7c73402ed9_c.jpg 003_P1250087 by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49471800203_45e29c2b6a_c.jpg 004_P1220113 by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49476540426_7cc619fe23_c.jpg 014_P1270247 by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49476054963_8af7aeaae3_c.jpg 016_P1290062 longnose hawkfish by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49480948788_33afcfc012_c.jpg 019_P1300160 by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49482422386_4f431a3a3a_c.jpg 027_P1270240 bubble coral shrimp by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49501124922_990e4c8eee_c.jpg 074_P1290003 by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    49485757177_043857647a_c.jpg 031_P1230070 Sauwandarek Jetty in Raja Ampat by Erwin Poliakoff, on Flickr

    The whole set can be found here: 2020 Flickr Raja Ampat album
     
  2. peeweediver

    peeweediver Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Chicago area
    450
    312
    63
    Great pictures. We were on this boat in 2018 and loved it and the diving. Thanks for reminding me what a great trip that was.

    Rob
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  3. Guitarcrazy

    Guitarcrazy Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Montana
    150
    75
    28
    Thanks for the great photos and report. I am just about sold on doing a liveaboard in Indonesia for our next trip. We have done Cozumel 9 times in the past 3 years, which we love, but this looks to be at another level. Now to convince the wife she can live on a boat for a week and not be miserable....
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  4. Ministryofgiraffes

    Ministryofgiraffes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Toronto
    887
    697
    93
    great wide angle shots. So much action!
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.
  5. Erwin Poliakoff

    Erwin Poliakoff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    83
    139
    33
    So, Cozumel is our favorite Caribbean dive destination, but Raja Ampat is in a whole different category. I am sure that you will love it. Incidentally, we were on the Gaia last March and one of the ladies had sworn that she would never do a liveaboard because she did not feel comfortable being on a boat. The Gaia Love is extremely stable, and now, she cannot wait to go on it again. It is a great boat, and has a great crew.
     
  6. Erwin Poliakoff

    Erwin Poliakoff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    83
    139
    33
    Exactly, it is a "wide angle world" at these dive sites, which is my favorite kind of diving.
     
  7. Ministryofgiraffes

    Ministryofgiraffes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Toronto
    887
    697
    93
    I’ll be taking my MWL-1 when I’m there in June/July.. with the cmc I’m hoping for some good macro/wide angle trade off..but your shots look like only full wide angle would do it justice!
     
  8. Erwin Poliakoff

    Erwin Poliakoff Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    83
    139
    33
    It is certainly true that the main attraction is the wide angle beauty (at least in my view). With that said, there are lots of opportunities to take macro shots (longnose hawkfish, shrimp, pygmy seahorses, etc.). Take your CMC so you have the option; that's my opinion. You may not use it a lot, but it will be nice to have the capability for some macro shots, too.
     
  9. Guitarcrazy

    Guitarcrazy Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Montana
    150
    75
    28
    Erwin, have you been to the Red Sea? We are considering Raja Ampat or possibly going to Egypt for Red Sea Liveaboard and then tour the archaeological sites. The liveaboards in the Red Sea are sooo cheap, it seems hard to believe. Any experience diving there? The videos and photos from the Red Sea look great also. Thanks.
     
  10. paolobl65

    paolobl65 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: italy
    78
    137
    33
    great photos and nice report !!
    thanks for sharing .
     
    Erwin Poliakoff likes this.

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