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Damai I Liveaboard - Raja Ampat & Cenderawasih Bay - June 30-July 12, 2023

Damai I Liveaboard

Raja Ampat & Cenderawasih Bay

June 30-July 12, 2023

$500 Agent Discount 

Featuring U/W Photography Pro Brandi Mueller

 

* *  6 Cabins Available  * *

The ship has seven staterooms with a choice of single cabins, twins, doubles or two spacious master cabins. All cabins are furnished with either queen or king-sized beds, and ensuite toilets with showers. The ship has been designed with three large deck areas for relaxing in both the sun or shade and for enjoying relaxing massage and spa treatments. Specifically designed for divers, the vessel offers large dive stations with individual rinse tanks and a camera room with separate camera work stations. Damai offers three local dive guides and one Instructor on board throughout your trip. With only twelve guests, this is a good 4:1 guest to dive guide ratio. The ship has two custom-designed high-speed tenders to get all guests to dive sites comfortably. The signature service includes personalized dive station and rinse tank, camera room and storage space for equipment, ala-carte dining catering to all food requirements, laundry and massage service on board, and the ship has an 18-member crew.

 

 This trip will be featuring underwater photography pro Brandi Mueller to offer photo tips and sessions between dives. Bring your camera and be ready to shoot and learn..!


  


This trip departs Sorong and disembarks in Nabire. Start your trip in Raja Ampat, center of marine biodiversity in the world. Pass through Mapia, which sits closeby to a military base and contains underwater world that is pristine and untouched; no fisherman or tourism. Finish the trip in Cenderawasih Bay, famous for its resident population of whalesharks but there is also WWII history, beautiful reefs and endemic fish.


This 13 day, 12 night adventure embarks at Sorong and disembarks at Nabire, and includes stateroom accommodation, 3 meals a day, complimentary wine with dinner, nitrox for certified divers, unlimited diving with the dive day built around four daily dives, laundry service, airport transfers.


Cost: Stateroom Cabin - $5,550 per person double occupancy including taxes and a $500 DISCOUNT

FULL TRIP ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrive Sorong

Guests will arrive in Sorong and have time to get comfortable on the boat. Damai will travel west to Matan for a check-out dive.

No. of Dives: 1

 

Day 2: Penemu

The signature sites in Penemu are Barracuda Point; a seamount on the north point; Melissa's Garden; a beautiful example of a hard-coral plateau and Keruo Channel; drift along this colorful slope watching the seascape go by. The highlight of Penemu is a lagoon tour in the tender boats amongst these turquoise waters and limestone bays. For the energetic there is a short walk to the top of one the hills to be rewarded with an amazing view over the lagoon with Damai moored in the distance. Long Crossing to Farondi.

No. of Dives: 4

 

Day 3: Manta Sandy & Arborek

Manta Sandy is a signature site for experiencing the grace of Reef Mantas. They are frequent visitors to the cleaning stations dotted along this sandy channel. Feel free to explore the sand for small critters while you are waiting for an appearance. Arborek Jetty is part of a sloping reef in front of the island. There are schools of fish, excellent wide-angle photo opportunities under the jetty itself and good critter hunting to be done along the slopes. In the late afternoon take a stroll around the village on the island and maybe join in one of their soccer matches or buy a locally made sunhat.

No. of Dives: 4

 

Day 4: Kri & Dampier Straits

At the eastern end of the famous Dampier Strait there are many signature dive sites. Cape Kri is a sloping reef on the eastern end of the island of Kri; Blue Magic and Sardine reef are seamounts covered in schooling fish and cruising sharks and rays; Mioskon is a great spot for the endemic Wobbegong shark and Pontohi pygmy seahorses.

No. of Dives: 4

 

Day 5: Pulau Dua

Half-way between Raja Ampat and Cenderawasih bay we will make a stop in these small islands where remains of the Second World War were thrown into the sea making a small, but superb reefs where life concentrates in large numbers. Big school of yellow grunt, large napoleon fish or barramundis find shelter. In the evening, if the conditions so consider, we will go to the beach to see the leatherback turtle nesting.

No. of Dives: 2 or 3


Day 6 and 7: Mapia

The last atoll in Indonesian waters, very close to the border with Palau, too remote for fisherman to go, and protected by a small navy post. The combination of all these factors mean only one thing: superb diving: pristine waters, hard corals and drop-offs and a tremendous amount of fish. Rare opportunity to see reefs in the way they were many years ago, and a delight to all our senses.

No. of Dives: 3 or 4

 

Day 8: Pulau Manim

Manim is home to calm waters and 7 sunken landing craft left behind after WWII. These are in a variety of depths from 5 to 25m and are covered in a variety of hard and soft corals.

No. of Dives: 4

 

Day 9: Outer Atolls

The outer atolls of Cenderawasih Bay are some of fishiest sites of the area, located inside the National Park. Wild Fish Ridge and Spag point are two paricular favourites. It is here that we can view so many of the endemic species that led this to be called the Galapagos of the East.

No. of Dives: 4

 

Day 10: Tanjung Manguar / Pulau Nusir

Tanjung Mangguar is an extensive dive site with a wall on one side and a plateau of hard corals on the other. There are some magnificant sponges and lots of plump soft corals to add some colour to the reef. This is a good chance to see some of the endemic fish species and there is a school of resident blackfin barracuda.

No. of Dives: 4

 

Day 11 and 12: Teluk Wororomi

This is the Whale Shark bay and the local fishing platforms attract many of the ocean's largest fish. After local reporting is complete divers will be offered an open dive deck so that they may spend as much time as possible in the water with these amazing creatures. The Whale Sharks here are a resident population of pre-adolescents, mainly males, who are come to the platforms to feed on the small bait fish that sit in the nets that hang beneath. They are apparently unconcerned by divers and tirelessly circle back again and again to feed upon morsels of fish hand-fed to them by the fishermen who regard them as good luck.

No. of Dives: Unlimited dives / snorkelling

 

Day 13: Departure

Guests will be escorted to the airport in Nabire and assisted with check-in procedures, no doubt full of talk about the wonders of the most popular dive destination in the world.


    

Photographing Giant Mantas - Socorro Islands, Mexico

Photographing the World’s Friendliest Mantas


Article by Brandi Mueller ( www.brandiunderwater.com )

 

As far as amazing underwater encounters go, diving with manta rays is one of the best. These spaceship-looking animals can look almost scary at first glance with their wingspans averaging eight to twelve feet (some documented to be over thirty feet), but as they glide smoothly over the top of a diver exhaling bubbles, it’s easy to see they are really beautiful, gentle creatures. 


                                 

In spite of their massive size, mantas eat plankton, the itty bitty animals we hardly even notice in the water. They use cephalic fins, paddle-like appendages on both sides of their mouth, to funnel in water (and food). Often when they do this they swim in giant loops through the water column, like beautiful acrobatic dancers dressed in black and white. 

 

With mostly black back, the undersides of mantas are a pattern of black and white unique and individual to each animal like a fingerprint. There are two types of mantas, black mantas which are mostly black with only a little white on their bellies and chevron mantas which have two white marks on their top side and much more white on their bellies. Images of the manta’s ventral sides have been used to identify and track mantas.

 

While mantas live in many of our favorite diving locations, including tropical to subtropical waters, we usually only see them if we get really lucky. But around the Revillagigedo Archipelago (known as the Socorro Islands) offshore of Baja, Mexico, divers are almost guaranteed manta sightings, and not just fleeting fly-bys. Known as the world’s friendliest mantas, those residing around Socorro seem to willingly interact with divers, spending entire dives just swimming from diver to diver, making eye contact, and checking the humans out.

 

The area also has cleaning stations where the mantas get a bit of a spa treatment. Clarion angelfish, cleaner wrasse, and other fish come in to clean the parasites and dead skin off the mantas. This symbiotic relationship helps both parties: the manta gets a good bath and the fish get dinner. For some reason these mantas also seem to enjoy the bubbles divers give off, perhaps it feels like a massage or tickles a bit? The mantas seem to swim right into the bubbles overtop a diver.


                                   

Tips for Photographing Mantas

·       Just Breath – The mantas seem to like the massage-like feeling of diver’s exhaled bubbles and they will come around and swim right over top of divers. I almost felt like some manta even seem to take turns with us, visiting each of us, so we all got to see them (maybe they were seeing whose bubbles were best.) So just by exhaling, you can get up-close and personal to take images of these beautiful animals.

·       Don’t Chase – Like any animals, if something seems to be chasing them, they run (or swim) away. Just stay in one spot and wait for the mantas to come to you. Sometimes strong swimming divers can even chase a manta off and it won’t come back for the rest of the dive.

·       Go Fisheye – The mantas are big and they get close. Use your widest, wide-angle lens. Nothing is worse than cutting off a wingtip in an image because the manta was too big and too close to you! For compact camera users, invest in a wet-mount wide-angle lens.

·       Get Settings Ready – The mantas will usually make a similar pattern over divers again and again. Do a few test shots if you can and have your settings and strobes ready to catch the moment you want. And if you missed it, set it up again and usually you just have to wait a little bit before the manta comes back and swims over again.

·       Shoot in Different Directions – I like to stay at the edge of the dive group so that I can shoot into the crowd and get images with divers and then also turn a bit and get shots with the mantas but without divers in the shot. It’s nice to have a variety.

·       Look behind you – Often the mantas are coming into the cleaning station area from the blue and you won’t see them until they’ve passed over you. Always keep an eye out all around.

·       Get Creative – Diving with the Socorro mantas is a rare opportunity where you can expect to have a lot of time and chances to take photos of your subject. Once you have a ton of shots making images in the style you usually do, try something different. Play with your camera settings, adjust your strobe positioning (even turn them off and take some ambient light photos) and strength, take some video. You may not like all the images that come out, but you may get some amazing shots!

 

Diving Socorro is not just about mantas either! Divers are likely to see sharks of many species including piles of white tips, hammerheads, silvertips, Galapagos, and while it’s not actually a shark, some lucky visitors may see a whale shark or two. Almost as friendly as the mantas are the dolphins and the islands themselves make for great images too! Socorro should be on every manta-lover and diver’s bucket list. It will not disappoint!


                                 

These photos are from a trip Brandi took on the Nautilus Belle Amie to the Socorro Islands December 5-12, 2020. You can book thrips with Liquid Diving Adventures to the Socorro Islands as well as many other amazing destinations worldwide.


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