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Return to Raja Ampat

November 13, 2013

As some of you know this is not my first trip to Kri Island. I was here with some friends for a 10 day holiday a few years ago. Little did I guess that I would get the chance to come back on a 10 week trip and be staying less than a mile from the resort I was in last time.
In many ways little has changed. But, there are more liveaboards, more resorts and many more homestays popping up along the coast. Two new homestays have been completed in just the 2 weeks I have been here. For those who haven’t experienced them, homestays are local style huts rented out on a bed and breakfast basis. Made of wood and bamboo screens with roof made of leaves, they can be erected in a few days given a motivated team of builders.
Whether I just didn’t notice it last time or, more likely, because there was less of it, the amount of plastic detritus that washes up on the shore seems greater than I remember. There is no way to dispose of rubbish on the island other than to burn it or bury it. We take our rubbish to Waisai, the district capital, where there are 4 containers for refuse disposal. It is not clear – despite enquiries being made of local officials – what happens to it after that. Burn or bury seems likely to be the only option there too.
Luckily the diving is just as fantastic as ever, and there is little evidence of litter or damage on the reefs despite the amount of floating plastic. Most of the dives I have done so far we have been the only boat on the reef. Even at Manta Sandy, the popular manta observation dive site, divers are generally well behaved. The sheer number of divers means that there is some damage from hanging on to rocks, hard and soft corals and general kicking up of sand while trying to maintain a position in the sometimes strong current. The relatively small viewing area and the fact that the majority of the divers are only interested in the mantas means that the surrounding area still supports loads of life. The mantas still seem to like it as a cleaning station; there are have been at least one, usually two there at any point in time on my four dives there. They hang around for a bit and then leave to be replaced by another. It almost seems as though there is a queuing system organised just out of sight of the divers.
PS, by the time I posted this we have had 7 mantas on our most recent dive.

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