Wednesday, April 18, 2007

West-Papua: Kri island

While by now there are a couple of seasonal live-aboards covering the region, Papua Diving, owned by Max Ammer, is so far still the only permanent dive operation in Raja Ampat, an archipelago of jungle covered islands just off western West-Papua.

Papua Diving actually consists of two different set-ups: Kri Eco Resort and Sorido Bay Resort, both located on Kri island, a 2-3 hour boat ride from Sorong, West-Papua's main entry point for visiting divers.

Kri Eco Resort caters to the more adventurous and budget conscious divers, who prefer basic close-to-nature non-AC accommodation and don't mind a cold mandi shower. Whereas Sorido Bay Resort is for rich people who can't stand the tropical climate and need to be cooled down and pampered to feel well. Guess in which resort we stayed for two weeks :o)

The diving of course is the same for everybody. Except that the rich people get shaded boats and the poor people get free extra time in the sun while sailing to the various dive spots in the vicinity.

Kri Eco Resort is well managed by Maya, Mayse & Nikson. Maya and her assistant Mayse take care of the general administration and organization. Nikson, in charge of the diving, plans and organizes the daily trips and also briefs the divers about each dive site, as unfortunately the junior guides barely speak any English and are rather shy about assuming control.

We stayed in a naturally aired hut on stilts above the water and were pretty happy about it - despite being rudely outboard-noise awakened and exhaust-gassed out of bed each morning as the dive boats moored nearby to refuel and load the scuba tanks :o(

The food was kind of alright, but not as tasty nor as varied as I've come to expect in spicy Indonesia. And considering the number of people who got sick, in both resorts, I'm afraid the hygienic conditions in the rather primitive kitchens are not as strict as they ought to be, especially in a hot climate.

Contrary to the Sorido Bay Resort, Kri Eco Resort enjoys an unencumbered view to the west, meaning we got fabulous fire-in-the-sky sunset shows almost every evening right from our little pier.

As for the diving... is it really worth all the trouble to get here? Well, read on and make up your own mind.

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