The passage. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

The passage

#Raja Ampat

  Indonesia: Raja Ampat + Bali - March 2012

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

Here, cliffs covered with jungle strangle the sea. This is one of the mythical sites of Raja Ampat: The Passage.

In the wake of Sir Alfred Russel Wallace

West Papua, Indonesia. In the Raja Ampat archipelago, the islands of Gam and Waigeo almost touch each other. Their karst cliffs covered with jungle, one in front of the other, form a kind of canyon that winds in the sea, oriented east-west.

The Passage is a spectacular and famous place. The British naturalist Sir Alfred Russel Wallacewho was looking for birds of paradise, is the first to have described it, in the 19th century, in his book The Malay Archipelago (1869).

Below is its route, on a map of the time, compared with a modern map. The Passage is at the red circle.

Map of Raja Ampat. On the left, the road of Sir Russel Wallace in the nineteenth century.
Map of Raja Ampat. On the left, the road of Sir Russel Wallace in the nineteenth century.

Atmosphere dive

For divers, this is a very different site from the others. From the boat, you have the impression to navigate on a steep river. Once underwater, we still have this strange impression of diving in a river, because of the shallow depth, the proximity of the vegetation and the rock.

The passage. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

At the same time, the underwater fauna is there. There are sponges, corals, tropical fish that have nothing to do with a river bed...

Underwater, the atmosphere is strange, bewitching, between the bright colors of the gorgonians at the bottom of the gully and the green light coming from the surface, filtered by the foliage of the trees.

There is something unreal in this underwater walk, between the coral and the vegetation so close, a bit like in the blue mangrove which I was talking about in a previous post.

It's funny, when you look up, to see its bubbles that seem to fly straight towards the trees...

Strong currents

The Passage is a place well known for the strength of the current. When the tides rush into this narrow gully, there is no need to fight. You have to let yourself drift. The boat lets you go at one end and comes to pick you up at the other.

The passage. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

Fortunately, there are bends between the two walls of rock, which form underwater coves that are suddenly peaceful, where divers can stop for a moment, before leaving like rockets, carried away by the powerful flow of the Passage.

Although shallow, it is a dive rich in sensations, really singular, between moments of calm and sudden accelerations.

UPDATE. A little addition after the fact: I've put below a short video that was made with the GoPro, the day of our little outing. You can see me paddling vigorously with the others in the juice and putting my head upside down with the housing of my 7D to take a picture...  

During this underwater walk, you will discover caves, passages in the cliffs, through which you can go back to the surface, tree trunks with ghostly appearance fallen on the bottom, huge rocks colonized by underwater fauna...

The passage. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

The passage. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

The best time to dive is around noon, when the sun's rays are diving right under the surface, creating a play of light and shadow.

Bad luck for me: when I was there, the blue sky of the morning had turned to grey, and a huge shower welcomed us at the exit... As a result, my pictures are a bit dark, they lack those beautiful rays of light, filtered by the leaves of the trees, to illuminate the background.

But I don't intend to stop there. I promised myself to go back!

The passage. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

Equatorial flood

Once back on the boat, we headed to the nearby village for lunch.

Navigation unreal, there again, almost ghostly, like in the middle of nowhere: the islands around us had disappeared, drowned in the grey of the flood.

Town. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

My pace amuses a lot this girl who has just landed on the pontoon with other people from the village. (Raja Ampat, Indonesia, March 2012)
My appearance amuses this little girl who has just disembarked on the pontoon with other people from the village (Raja Ampat, Indonesia, March 2012)

What consoles, under these latitudes (we are almost at the level of the equator), it is that the rain is warm... That changes from the Breton drizzle!


In spite of the humidity, I decided, with a lot of precautions, to open the waterproof housing of the camera, in order to trade my wide angle lens for the macro (see → Diving and photo: my equipment) in anticipation of the next dive. Because it is a pity not to be able to do macro on a site with the promising name of Nudibranch Rock...

This little stop also gave me the opportunity to show off my beautiful rain poncho, which is so stylish, on the pontoon. I even posed for the picture.

Guaranteed success with the people and children of the village!


Rain. Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. March 2012.

→ To see all the articles about my dives at Raja Ampat : a click here !

  Indonesia: Raja Ampat + Bali - March 2012

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  1. really funny this passage, the colors are particular, I like the side a little greenish by moment.
    By the way I read well?? nudibranch rock..... I knew that the post nudibranch was coming!!! 😛

    1. @Laurence: I'm very late in my posts... And I'm already back in Indonesia. Tomorrow I'll be back... in Raja Ampat !!!!
      I promise to do a post dedicated to nudibranchs just for you... 😉

    2. back to Rajat Ampat !!!
      Youpi, that means lots of beautiful pictures to come!
      Obviously you have "fallen" for this destination!
      I'll take you up on the nudi post and you'll be able to put in plenty with this new trip 😀

    3. @Laurence: yes, I fell for Raja Ampat. Big break of piggy bank, but it's totally worth it. I took more wide angle pictures than macro ones, but I have enough for a special "nudis" page very soon, I promise!

  2. Hello Corinne,

    I just discovered your blog.
    Thank you very much for this diving in picture.

    Your photos really make you want to go to this place, even in the rain 🙂

  3. I still see some great photos of diving! No chance for the deluge but it happens so often in Asia! very sexy otherwise the picture 😀

  4. The passage will remain in our memories as a particular and unclassifiable spot: impression of doing hydrospeed or even spinning at 1000 rpm at times, then diving in a small quiet river at others. The water is greenish, which increases the power of the coral colors. And then the trip through Kabui Bay is magnificent. Really an exceptional dive, but only for experienced divers, otherwise you might have a diving accident.