I first took up scuba diving in the waters of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. To be honest, I didn’t experience the Bay at its best. In fact, I recall one of my first boat dives brought up comparisons to being in the spin cycle of a washing machine. And the water was only 15 degrees celcius that day. Not long after that, I experienced tropical water diving in Papua New Guinea and that was when diving really became fun! Somehow, the idea of feeling cold despite wearing a head-to-toe ensemble of 7mm neoprene just does not appeal these days. Besides, at their best, tropical coral reefs are stunningly beautiful and yet threatened with decimation by climate change. So every now and then I try to travel to the tropics to practice my scuba diving skills.
Early this year, I went on a week-long trip to West Papua to experience what is reputedly one of the best diving destinations in the world- Raja Ampat, or Four Kings. This is one for die-hard divers because it takes quite a bit of work to get there, especially from Europe or North America. It is relatively easy to get to for Australian divers. Nevertheless my journey there required a flight from Melbourne to Jakarta, then another flight from Jakarta to a town called Sorong and then a two hour ride in a small motorboat to Kri island. Was it worth it? Most definitely! Raja Ampat is a true tropical Paradise. Great care has been taken to preserve the natural environment both above and below the water by regulating construction and fishing. Accommodation was in thatched huts sitting on stilts right over the water, and at high tide the fish of the surrounding reefs would be literally swimming under one’s bed.
The diving was spectacular. Alas, both my still and video cameras got swept away during a dive in the strong oceanic currents that are a feature of Raja Ampat. I keep hoping that they still floating around somewhere in the vast seas and that someone might find the cameras washed up on a beach one day and be kind enough return them to me! I am fortunate that I have a handful of good photos and video from my trip, that I happened to have downloaded or obtained from friends.