Dive unexplored reefs and partake in marine conservation amongst the islands of the intrepid Raja Ampat archipelago.
About this Program
This truly breathtaking marine paradise of white, sandy beaches and sparkling, turquoise waters is located in the East Indonesia/West Papua region of the coral triangle. Loosely translated as ‘the four kings’, Raja Ampat is made up of over 1500 small islands and cays, although only 35 of them are inhabited. Many of the islands remain unexplored and reefs are yet to be dived, making it one of the few remaining scuba diving frontiers in the world. Raja Ampat has the highest known concentration and diversity of marine life on earth within its waters. This marine ecosystem is a major, global priority for ocean conservation and the full extent of its importance as an ecosystem is only now being uncovered. The oceans which surround Raja Ampat contain a staggering 80% of the world’s coral species, which is ten times the number of species found in the entire Caribbea. These include 1350 species of fish, six endangered marine turtle species and 27 varieties of marine mammal. This level of biodiversity is truly unequalled anywhere in the world.
Despite the threats facing this marine environment, the reefs are showing remarkable resistance to global marine issues such as climate change, coral bleaching and disease. Larvae naturally produced here, is swept across the oceans to replenish the reefs. This naturally supports healthy ecosystems and sustainable subsistence fishing for poor villages. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that Raja Ampat remains as biodiverse as possible, and that its species continue to thrive.
Understanding that the long-term protection of this special environment cannot work unless accompanied by education and the sustained alleviation of poverty, the program works with the local communities - educating, improving equality of life and aiming to alleviate poverty once and for all. There are a number of community programs and initiatives for you to get involved with around the twice daily dives, which makes for a truly rewarding marine conservation volunteer experience.
Prior to Arrival
You must hold a valid passport to enter Indonesia. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry to Indonesia. For a visit of up to 30 days, citizens of the UK, the USA and nations in the European Economic Area can obtain a single-entry visa on arrival for free when first entering Indonesia(this is for 30 days maximum). There is an option which costs US$35 for a visit of up to 30 days. This tourist visa can then be extended once by 30 days and the program staff will help you with this using their visa agent based in Bali at a cost of £35. Alternatively, you can apply for a 60 day tourist visa before travel from your local Indonesian Embassy. For stays of over 60 days, you will need to apply for a visa beforehand.
You will be met at the Meridien Hotel at 8am by a program facilitator who will transfer you to the ferry port (opposite the Meridien Hotel) to catch a boat to the program site on Arborek Island. Upon arrival you will spend the rest of the day settling in, exploring the program site and meeting your fellow volunteers. This is the perfect time in which to take in the beauty of Raja Ampat - one of the most pristine marine environments anywhere on earth!
Please note: On arrival in Waisai you will need to pay 1,000,000 IDR (around £50) for the Raja Ampat Marine Reserve Fee. This will need to be paid in cash in the local currency.
A typical weekday on the program consists of two survey dives and time spent on one or more of the numerous community programs within the local area. Depending on the weather conditions, you will either start the first survey dive at 9am or visit the local community to assist on a community program. After lunch you will go back out to complete another survey-dive.
If you are unqualified, you will complete your PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water qualifications the first week.
Scuba diving is not only done during the daily survey dives but also during your free time. The marine life here is second to none and therefore it is essential for you to get under-water as much as possible! Saturdays are therefore set aside for leisure dives.
Sunday is a complete no dive day to allow recovery time. This time can be spent sunbathing, playing beach volleyball or football, swimming, snorkelling, exploring the island or visiting the local village.
Accommodation is provided in a stunning, beach-front location, just metres from the calm, crystal clear ocean. The accommodation comprises of dormitory-style beach bungalows. Each bungalow has been hand-built by the local community using traditional methods and materials. You will be provided with a bunk bed, mattress, pillow, basic linen (you may wish to bring a light sleeping bag) and mosquito net, along with a fan for each room. The bungalows are usually same-sex sharing, however this cannot be guaranteed. They also have a power supply so you can recharge cameras and phones. Accommodation is basic but comfortable.
Please note the island now has a new bungalow with 2 rooms. A private room in this, right on the beach, will be available for those that want to upgrade. This private room in a shared beach bungalow will cost an extra £120 per week and is good for couples travelling together – please enquire for more details.
Three meals a day are provided (specific diets are catered for). Meals are based upon local cuisine and seasonal availability of locally produced food, prepared and cooked by local staff, except on Sundays when expedition staff & volunteers will prepare and cook all meals.