Many people ask when the best time to dive Raja Ampat is. The answer is very much dependent on what you are looking for. Here’s why it’s incredible year-round.
The first thing to think about when deciding on when to visit someplace is often the weather. Raja Ampat is part of Indonesia. However, it has different weather patterns than the rest of the country being so far east. Also, the islands of the Four Kings, as Raja Ampat is also known, have their own microclimates, so there is a lot of variety.
This is a tropical area, so regardless of season, rain can not only vary from island to island but hour by hour. It’s not uncommon to get a shower for 30min, followed by the rest of the day having clear blue skies. That’s how it stays lush and green all year, yet sunny, warm, and perfect for diving all year as well.
It does lie close to the equator, so some things are fairly consistent. Daylight is pretty split at 12h from 6:30am – 6:30pm. Year-round air temperatures range between 25-31°C (78-89°F), with water temperatures having an even smaller range of 28-30°C (82-86°F).
The two main seasons are “wet” and “dry”. Wet season being May-October, and dry season being November-April. However, that’s far too simple.
The wet season is May-October. However, even then you don’t typically get more than a few hours of rain at a time. This season is more known as “windy” season. Because of the winds, you do potentially need to be a little more flexible with your plans. With rougher seas, you might be limited to how far you can travel, and travel between islands. Rougher seas are also a factor for people that tend to get seasick.
However, many factors make this season still shine for diving. The main reason the other season is peak diving season is peak diving season coincides with manta season. Everyone loves mantas (us included), but there is so much more to see when you dive Raja Ampat. First off, with mantas comes manta food – which drops visibility. No plankton equals crystal clear water with visibility often being 30+ meters.
With this incredible visibility, you can see a bunch of different sharks. So many, we call it shark season to counter manta season. Whitetip, blacktip, grey reef and wobbegongs are all common. Not to mention all the other critters and creatures that are around all year. (See below.)
The other huge perk? No other divers. You get these incredible dive sites all to yourself. We get spoiled by it so much so, that when it transitions to peak diving season, it’s actually weird to see other people!
It might be called wet season, but you get wet diving anyway. So you might as well jump in and enjoy all these other amazing aspects of this time of year.
Dry season is November to April. This is also peak season, and when most people come to dive Raja Ampat. Less wind. Calmer seas. And as we have already said – MANTAS.
We get both types of manta ray here in Raja Ampat. Reef mantas, span up to 5 meters (16 feet), although are more commonly around the 3-3.5 meter mark (11 feet). But the main draw are oceanic mantas. They can span up to 7 meters (23 feet)!! That’s like 3-4x the size of the average human. Yes, 3-4x the size of YOU. How epic would that be to see?
Side note – this is a tropical climate and we still get rain here too. However like stated above, if it rains, it’s typically for a couple of hours and then clears back to sunny blue skies.
Seriously, it’s only mantas that come and go. You can still see more fish than you ever have before by the hundreds in schools and shoals. Fusiliers, trevallies, sweetlips, bumphead parrotfish… there are actually way too many to name.
Macro your thing? Yes, we have nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, shrimps, crabs, and more. Again, too many to name.
Not to mention the sharks listed above (white tip, blacktip, grey reef, and wobbegongs). Numerous turtle species. Devil rays, mobulas, octopus, cuttlefish, blue rings… ok, you get the point.
But wait there’s more! We’ve seen dugongs, dolphins, even whales. These are more rarely sighted, but still around and possible.
Here, we are at the heart of the coral triangle. Raja Ampat is known to have some of, if not the highest marine diversity in the world. Marine biodiversity by definition is the number of living species you can find in an ecosystem,. including animals, algae, and plants. From the smallest thing like macro shrimps to the biggest like whale sharks. Everyone is important for the balance of the ecosystem, and everyone gets their own role.
The coral here is also some of the healthiest in the world. Hard coral. Soft coral. Table coral, sea fans, staghorn coral, black coral. The list goes on and on. All in a vibrant rainbow of colour, All year round.
Raja Ampat truly is a world-class diving destination regardless of the season. Another thing to keep in mind would be the currents. Raja Ampat is definitely known for having some crazy currents. Not all the sights, and not all the time. Currents are generally more associated with moon cycles than the time of year. But do expect to encounter current during your time diving in Raja. Current is also why you will sometimes see liveaboards here requiring 50+ dives and/or an Advanced Open Water Certification.
There are a few beginner-friendly sites, however, you didn’t travel all this way to miss out on the best sights in Raja. For this reason, we would recommend if you are a beginner, doing your AOW certification with us. That way you will learn the skills to get the most out of your diving here, all while diving in this incredible place.
You get a taste of 5 different specialities, of which current is probably your most important one while here. You’ll get more work on your buoyancy and finning techniques to make you more comfortable diving and less likely to destroy the reef. And the ability to dive up to 30 meters vs. the Open Water certification depth of 18 meters. Most of the dive sites in Raja max out at 30 meters, sloping to a sandy bottom. The joke is: you can’t go much deeper unless you bring your shovel.
Come in low season, as the pro list way outweighs the cons. Come in
high season for mantas. One thing is for sure – regardless of when you
come, you will have one of the best, most amazing diving experiences in
Here at Scuba Republic, we have day trips, safaris, and liveaboards for you to choose from. Check out our other blog that pros and cons each, to have the most awesome dive adventure for you. We look forward to diving with you soon! Contact us to discuss your options and plan your epic adventure today!