Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
"Above all, do not stay under the coconut trees", I am told when I arrive at Triton Bay. Yes, the biggest danger here is to get a coconut on your head!
A long trip (again)
Here is the island of Aiduma and the resort Triton Bay Divers, where I landed on March 8, 2016, at mid-day, after forty hours of travel from Rennes, Brittany ... Yes, some people think that I'm a little crazy to accomplish such a journey, just to photograph fish and possibly get me some coconut on my head ... 😂
Triton Bay (Teluk Triton) is in the far east of the Indonesian archipelago, in the province of West Papua. From Europe, it's the end of the world. This is where (zoom / unzip the Google Map to see better):
The investigation of aircraft went off without a hitch or delays: Paris - Istanbul - Jakarta for the first international stretch to Indonesia (on Turkish Airlines).
Then Jakarta - Ambon - Fak-Fak - Kaimana, on Lion Air and its subsidiaries (Batik Air and Wings Air) for domestic flights. Since Jakarta, there is no simpler nor more direct for the moment ...
Updated: April 2017. The national company Garuda Airlines now serves Kaimana Airport, with flights from Ambon, six days a week.
After landing at Kaimana, the "capital" of the region, I have "more" than an hour and a half boat trip to reach the island of Aiduma and coconut trees in Triton Bay ... Phew!
Welcome to Triton Bay
Obviously, I am very happy to finally arrive. And discover my new "home" for a dozen days ... I walk the sand, soft underfoot, dazzled by the beauty of this small cove nestled under the coconut trees.
But already I am warned, with a benevolent insistence: do not drag in the shade of palm trees! It's dangerous. "We regularly remove the coconuts from the trees near the beach, explain me Jimmy, from the resort Triton Bay Divers. But there are still some left. So avoid staying just below ... "
This is not a joke. Throughout my stay, the shock of a coconut landing without warning on the ground will make me jump often. It's big and heavy, a coconut. And when it falls, it can hurt a lot ...
But after such a long trip, this Papuan island has the effect of a well deserved paradise. An adorable beach of fine white sand. Some wooden bungalows turned to the sea. A hill covered with dense jungle in the back. The sea and coral in front ... It's beautiful!
I wanted an immersion in nature, far from everything, I have it! There is no more mobile network here. As for the internet, uh ... just do not think about it anymore.
Lobo, the nearest village, is on the coast of Papua, three quarters of an hour's boat from Aiduma Island. The coast is wild, formed by spectacular karst cliffs. Here and there, some "encampments" of fishermen. Here I am "obliged" to disconnect.
At dawn and dusk, I learn to tame the thousand strange noises - screams, whistles and crackles - from the surrounding vegetation. It is the paradise of insects and birds (toucans and white cockatoo for the most visible). One morning, very early, I will even see the tail of a couscous at the top of a potentially killer coconut tree.
But it is for nature under water that I have come here. As Raja Ampatfurther north, Triton Bay is considered a "hot spot", a hotspot for biodiversity in the world.
Far from tourist routes, still little known, this bay was explored by marine biologists of the organization Conservation International in 2006. They observed here the amazing walking shark, endemic of the region, and counted many rare or new species of fish, crustaceans and corals. A truly "Cash factory"they say about these waters that give rise to so many new life forms.
In 2014, scientists from the Lengguru Expedition are returning to explore the region. Arte broadcasts a documentary about their adventure in these months of June and July 2016:
As early as 2008, the Kaimana area established a 6,000 square kilometer protected marine area in Triton Bay waters. To dive, you must pay an entrance fee of 500 000 Rp (about 40 €). As Raja Ampat, you are given in exchange a badge to hang on the stab (the BC).
Diving in Triton Bay
Triton Bay has lived up to my expectations: diving, exceptional underwater, incredibly rich and preserved; side atmosphere, very peaceful holidays, very relaxing, far from the tourist crowd and the fury of the world ...
But honestly, I do not think this is a destination that suits all divers. In Triton Bay, the waters are loaded with nutrients, resulting in a spectacular profusion of underwater biodiversity. The reverse is extremely variable visibility, in water often greener than blue: from mediocre (5m) to correct (15m) for indoor sites, good (20m) to excellent (25m and more) for more remote sites outside to the open sea. And it changes all the time depending on the weather, very variable too, including on the same day ...
Result, we must every day adapt the choice of sites and the type of dives, depending on the conditions of the sea, the sky, the tide ... And my daily dilemma of photographer, at breakfast time, is to decide which objective to fix on my device: fisheye or macro?
(Yes, it's hard to have such serious decisions on vacation.)
You also need to be aware that apart from diving, swimming and a trip to nearby villages, there is not much to do in the area. So it's better to be in a contemplative mood, preferably a bit of underwater photography and capable of a child's wonder in front of the treasures of nature, to enjoy Triton Bay as it deserves.
Me, I feasted: fluffy forests of black coral, explosive bright colors of soft corals, huge hard coral tables, hunting jacks, giant swirls of riflemen and surgeons, sweets, carpet sharks (wobbegongs), swarms of glass fish, seahorses-pygmies galore, mini cuttlefish and mini octopus photogenic (wonderpus), harlequin shrimps, nudibranchs ... Not to mention the often seen dolphins of the boat and even (once) whales ...
Also note that do not consider diving to Triton Bay during what corresponds to our summer. At that time, it's the eastern monsoon season (which runs roughly from mid-June to mid-September). The region is then very exposed to the winds and the conditions at sea do not make it possible to dive. The Triton Bay Divers Resort closes elsewhere during the summer months.
My only regret: that there was no bagans Nearby, during my stay. These mobile fishing platforms, which haul nets overflowing with anchovies or other small fish for bait, attract whale sharks, who come to feed around the catches (as in Cenderawasih Bay, another known destination of divers in West Papua).
We can then immerse ourselves alongside these nice giants of the seas (as I did in Mexico) and admire them very closely. I will not have had the opportunity to do it this time ... Too bad.
Away from it all
The small resort Triton Bay Divers where I spent a dozen days is very recent, it opened in February 2015. This is the first and (for now) the only diving structure in the region of Kaimana, where tourism is still almost nonexistent .
Since I discovered Raja Ampat, in 2012, I am particularly interested in diving in West Papua, located in the heart of the mythical Coral Triangle. The distant Triton Bay made me dream and seemed for a long time inaccessible to me. Until 2014, there was only the option of cruises-dives (few and most high-end category for the most part). So when I learned about this resort project, I threw myself on their Facebook page, launched even before opening. Over the months, I then followed their construction and landscaping, the purchase of boats, the arrival of the first customers ... keeping in a corner of my head the project to make a tour , see you next day!
Behind this crazy project of opening a diving resort in such an isolated place, there is Lisa, an English girl who grew up in Hong Kong, and Jimmy, a Chinese-Canadian who has lived in Taiwan. Both diving professionals, they dreamed of one day opening their own center and associated themselves.
Addition.I put you below a video shot in 2017 by the videographer and underwater photographer Karsten Heinrich, where Lisa explains what makes Triton Bay special about Raja Ampat, including:
The motto of the resort Triton Bay Divers, it is "Remote but worth it". Basically: it's super far from everything, but it's worth it! I confirm. I come back delighted.
Especially since I (still) benefited from conditions worthy of a princess, under these fearsome coconut trees from the end of the world ... Yes, during my stay, I was the only customer diving. So who has happily taken advantage of the boat and the TWO dive guides (Indonesians from North Sulawesi, in the eyes of lynx, who have worked at Lembeh, among others) for herself, huh, who? ? ? 😊
I'm really lucky, as often when I travel solo. I not only survived coconut killers (phew!), But I was able to indulge in an orgy of underwater photos without having to worry about a cumbersome palanquée ... Happiness.