Raja Ampat/Lembeh Resort
Part II….the adventure continues…......Part one is in the trips & travel forum
Raja Ampat/Sorido Resort:
Had to get up at 2 am on December 30, leaving Lembeh to Manado to find the flight delayed two plus hours to Sorong, I finally arrived at the Sorido resort at about noontime. Quite an adventure to get there going through Sorong to the boat dock and the boat that transports you there for the 3 hours. Max (owner) is putting a new boat in operation within the next month. Max’s manager was on vacation so he showed me around the resort and to my room. Nice resort the rooms are Modern, large, nice bathroom facilities, plenty of storage space, a drying rack for your cloths, rinse basin and table for your Camera, rooms are on the beach and TV’s in Papua?! All in the middle of a remote area on this earth. The only thing you have to get used to is the sulfur smell of the running water. The meals were plentiful and varied. Most of the dishes had an Indonesian twist to it which meant a bit of spices, sometimes a bit too much for me (I am sure they will accommodate your requests if needed). The area reminds me of Palau, some rock islands and from what I understand the Papuans have Palauan ancestry. Just wish it was as easy to get to as Palau!
It was time for lunch and then our first dive on the 30th. Max is very thorough about looking at your dive logs and certification levels. The first dive was on Kri reef. My experience for current diving includes Galapagos, Palau, Rangiroa and Fakarava all of those locations can have some wicked currents. My dive guide was Otto the head of the dive operation. My first dive was a disaster, dropped into the blue and immediately went down in about 90 seconds to 100’ and swam over to the reef. There was about a 2 to 3 knot current bearing down upon us. I immediately started Finning up. Finally having to fill my BC to get back to 70’. Then we turn into the current for about 5 minutes. Having blown through half of my air in less than 9 minutes, I signaled to turn around and do a drift dive. This was first time in 6 years I had a 30-minute dive and I was diving a 15 liter or 100 tank! I was not a happy Diver and I told them so! When telling them about my dive experience I forgot to mention I am an Air Hog and not an Olympic swimmer!
The diving in Papua is incredible, i.e. on Kri and Sardines reef we saw Bumphead Parrot fish, Black tip Sharks, Black & white tip reef sharks Wobbegone Sharks, Sting Rays, Napoleon Wrasses, Sweet Lips, Groupers, Napoleon wrasse, Giant Clams (biggest I have ever seen), large schools of Great Barracuda, Batfish, massive schools of Yellowback fusilier’s, Bait fish, Jacks, Trevally, Emperor’s to Pigmy seahorses…and so much more. On some dives you had to push the remains of gelatin egg casings from you face. The only thing more I could have asked for is an additional 40’ visibility. I have never seen so much on a single dive(s) anywhere. Did I mention Corals? Every type of hard and soft coral I have seen anywhere.
The visibility was around 30’ to 60’, which was a major disappointment. I was definitely hoping for better but there was so much in the water, I do not know how much more you could take in. Water temperatures were 83 to 85 degrees and on some dives currents up to 2 or 3 knots. The weather was hi overcast a few days with some sun and an occasional rain shower. Temperatures were never to hot, very comfortable. Although it may seem like moderate temperatures, you are within 49 miles of the equator. I was taking Doxycline for malaria prevention and became very ill one day due to the combination of Sun and Doxy, lost three dives. My plan was to do about 19 dives and got in only 15! Saturday is a day of rest so no diving allowed.
There were never more than two other people at Sorido when I was there. Max is a great host. I was lucky he joined us for many of our meals and to talk with him about his life, guests who have visited Sorido (he has had some famous ones) and his diving experience is overwhelming. In addition, I was able to see the future plans for his new liveaboard that is to be launched in late 2008, this boat will be one of the finest on the water. I hope to be back next year and doing a combination of his resort and liveaboard!
Returning to Sorong had a few glitches. The hotel that Sorido put me in was the J.E. Meridien in Sorong was great. I was put in this executive suite overlooking the Airport! Upon arrival back in Sorong I saw the Sorido agent about 30 seconds at the dock (if you want to call it that…LOL) and whisked off in a taxi! One of the problems was lack of communication by the Sorido staff upon the return. I did not have my plane ticket from Sorong to Manado. I was told it would be at the resort. The resort said it would be at the hotel. The Hotel had no idea and could not speak English. Fun! Finally got a hold of the Sorido agent and my ticket. That could have gone a lot smother. Then my biggest aggravation was with the Indonesian airlines….All my connections were 2+ hours late and every airline I had to pay an over weight charge for my scuba gear even one was not going to take my gear. I am going to put this as nicely as I can…Indonesian Airlines Suck!
Any of the problems I encountered whether it was at Lembeh or Sorido (end of the trip), in all fairness I must say many of the regular staff were on Holiday and any problems were resolved immediately. The positive is you usually do not dive with more that a couple of other people on the boats as no one is there.
Overall the Papua and the Lembeh Straits is the finest diving I have ever done!