Cenderawasih Bay in the province of West Papua is the largest marine national park in Indonesia, and can be combined with a trip in Raja Ampat for a varied and exquisite journey through some of Indonesia’s most remote and beautiful islands.
Until recently, the bay was geologically isolated from the flow of Pacific tides and remains sheltered, so less current moves through its waters resulting in some really interesting underwater life. A number of very colourful endemic species and some normally deep-dwelling marine species are found here in shallow water, and in terms of diving there are also interesting wrecks and sunken fighter jets from WWII.
Whalesharks are the main draw of Cenderawasih Bay as they exhibit unique behaviour here, gathering in groups among the locals’ fishing platforms to feed on the small fry that escapes the nets. The fishermen believe they are under the protection of the spirits and hand feed them scraps - an amazing sight. In this region, there are roughly 14,000 people living in the 72 villages within the park.
WHEN TO CHARTER A YACHT: Cenderawasih Bay is best visited between November and April.