Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
"Above all, don't stay under the coconut trees", I was told when I arrived at Triton Bay. Yes, the biggest danger here is to take a coconut on your head!
A long trip (again)
Here is the island of Aiduma and the resort Triton Bay DiversI landed on March 8, 2016, in the middle of the day, after a forty-hour trip from Rennes, in Brittany... Yes, some people think I'm a bit crazy to accomplish such a trip, just to photograph fish and eventually get coconuts on my head... 😂
Triton Bay (Teluk Triton) is located in the extreme east of the Indonesian archipelago, in the province of West Papua. From Europe, it is the end of the world. It is here (zoom in / out the Google Map to see better) :
The aircraft enquiry took place without any hitch or notable delays: Paris - Istanbul - Jakarta for the first international section 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. From Jakarta, there is no simpler or 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 in Kaimana, the "capital" of the region, I only have an hour and a half of boat ride to reach Aiduma Island and its coconut trees, in the Triton Bay... Phew!
Welcome to Triton Bay
Obviously, I am very happy to finally arrive. And to discover my new "home" for a dozen days... I walk on the sand, soft under my feet, dazzled by the beauty of this small cove nestled under the coconut trees.
But already I am warned, with a benevolent insistence: you must not hang around in the shade of the fins! It is dangerous. "We regularly remove coconuts from the trees near the beach, explains Jimmy, from the resort Triton Bay Divers. But there's always more. So don't stay just underneath..."
This is not a joke. Throughout my stay, the sound of a coconut landing without warning on the ground will startle me many times. 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 feels like a well-deserved paradise. A lovely beach of fine white sand. Some wooden bungalows facing the sea. A hill covered with dense jungle at the back. The sea and the coral in front... It's beautiful!
I wanted an immersion in nature, far from everything, I got it! There is no more mobile network here. As for the internet, uh... I might as well not think about it anymore.
Lobo, the nearest village, is on the coast of Papua, three quarters of an hour by boat from the island of Aiduma. The coast is wild, formed by spectacular karst cliffs. Here and there, some fishermen's "camps". I was "forced" to disconnect.
At dawn and dusk, I learn to tame the thousand strange noises - cries, whistles and crackles - coming from the surrounding vegetation. It is a paradise for insects and birds (toucans and white cockatoos for the most visible). One morning, very early, I will even see the tail of a couscous on top of a potentially killer coconut tree.
But it's for the nature underwater that I came all the way here. Like Raja AmpatFurther north, Triton Bay is considered a "hot spot" of biodiversity in the world.
Far from the tourist itineraries, still little known, this bay has been explored by marine biologists of the organization Conservation International in 2006. They observed here the amazing walking shark, endemic to the region, and counted many rare or new species of fish, crustaceans and corals. A real "cash factory".they say about these waters that give rise to so many new life forms.
In 2014, the scientists of the Lengguru expedition returned to explore the region. Arte is broadcasting a documentary about their adventure in these months of June and July 2016:
In 2008, the Kaimana region established a 6,000 square kilometer marine protected area in the waters of Triton Bay. To dive there, you have to pay an entry fee of 500 000 Rp (about 40€). As in Raja Ampat, you will be given a badge to hang on the stab (the stabilizing vest).
Diving in Triton Bay
Triton Bay has lived up to my expectations: on the diving side, exceptional, incredibly rich and unspoilt seabed; on the atmosphere side, a very peaceful, restful holiday, far from the tourist crowds and the fury of the world...
But honestly, I don't think it's a destination that suits all divers. In Triton Bay, the waters are loaded with nutrients, which results in a spectacular profusion of underwater biodiversity. The downside is the extremely variable visibility, in water that is often more green than blue: from mediocre (5m) to good (15m) for the inland sites, from good (20m) to excellent (25m and more) for the more distant sites out to the open sea. And it changes all the time depending on the weather, which is also very variable, even on the same day...
As a result, every day we have to adapt the choice of the sites and the type of dives, according to the conditions of the sea, the sky, the tide... And my daily dilemma as a photographer, at breakfast time, is to decide which lens to fix on my device Fisheye or macro?
(Yes, it's hard to have such serious decisions to make on vacation).
You should also be aware that, apart from diving, swimming and a trip to the neighboring villages, there is not much to do in the area. It is therefore better to be in a contemplative mood, preferably a fan of underwater photography and capable of a childlike wonder at the treasures of nature, to appreciate Triton Bay as it deserves.
For me, I enjoyed: fluffy forests of black coral, explosion of bright colours of soft corals, huge tables of hard coral, jacks on the hunt, giant whirlpools of fusiliers and surgeons, gaterins, 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 ...
It is also important to note that you should not consider diving at Triton Bay during what corresponds to our summer. At that time, it is the eastern monsoon season (which runs roughly from mid-June to mid-September). The area is then very exposed to winds and the sea conditions do not allow diving. The Triton Bay Divers Resort closed during the summer months.
My only regret is that there was no bagans in the vicinity during my stay. These mobile fishing platforms, which bring up nets overflowing with anchovies or other small fishes to be used as bait, attract whale sharks, which come to feed around the catch (as in Cenderawasih Bay, another well-known destination for divers in West Papua).
We can then immerse ourselves alongside these gentle giants of the sea (as I had done in Mexico) and admire them very closely. I won't have 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 quite recent, it opened in February 2015. It is the first and (for now) the only diving structure in the Kaimana area, where tourism is still almost non-existent.
Since I discovered Raja Ampatin 2012, I am particularly interested in diving in West Papua, located in the heart of the mythical Coral Triangle. The remote Triton Bay was a dream of mine and for a long time seemed inaccessible. Until 2014, there was only the option of dive cruises (few in number and very high-end category for the most part). So when I heard about this resort project, I jumped on it. their Facebook pagelaunched even before the opening. Over the months, I followed their construction and land development work, the purchase of boats, the arrival of the first customers... keeping in the back of my mind the project of visiting them one day soon!
Behind this crazy project of opening a diving resort in such a remote place, there is Lisa, an Englishwoman who grew up in Hong Kong, and Jimmy, a Canadian of Chinese origin who lived in Taiwan. Both diving professionals, they dreamed of one day opening their own center and joined forces.
Addition.I put you below a video shot in 2017 by the videographer and underwater photographer Karsten Heinrichwhere Lisa explains what makes Triton Bay different from Raja Ampat, for example:
The motto of the resort Triton Bay Diversis "remote but worth it". In short: it's super far from everything, but it's worth it! I confirm. I came back delighted.
Especially since I enjoyed (again) conditions worthy of a princess, under those dreaded coconut trees at the end of the world... Yes, during my stay, I was the only diving guest. Who blissfully enjoyed the boat and TWO dive guides (eagle-eyed Indonesians from North Sulawesi, who worked in Lembeh among other places) all to herself, eh, who??? 😊
I'm really lucky, as I often am when I travel solo. Not only did I escape the killer coconut trees (phew!), but I was able to indulge in an orgy of underwater photography without having to worry about a cumbersome boat... Happiness.