Newsletter February 2020 (2)
In this newsletter, travel writer and photographer Tommy Schultz takes us with him on his explorations of the magnificent shallow water habitats in Raja Ampat, where he joined the Seven Seas earlier this month. We're planning similar explorations on a dedicated cruise next year, around the same time, with a group of shallow water adventurers, both snorkeling and on SCUBA. Joins us to find more of these Secret Shallows in Raja Ampat in 2021, from January 30 to February 11. Several cabins still available, please contact us at [email protected].
The Simple Joys of Staying Shallow: Raja Ampat on the Seven Seas
Trip Report & photos by Tommy Schultz.
It's just before first light as Captain Abdul Rifai guides the Seven Seas towards Sawandarek village in central Raja Ampat. The clank of the anchor chain is our nautical alarm clock this morning - time to dive!
After a quick briefing from Cruise Director Alex, we're speeding across the glassy sea as the glow of the sun rises in the east. Plunging into the warm waters with my dive buddy Richard, we're face to face with a huge batfish - curious to check out these strange creatures who've just broken the beautiful silence of the Raja Ampat daybreak.
Alex guides us around the Sawandarek jetty, inquisitive pods of sweetlips staring at us with their taciturn faces. The current within the bay is almost non-existent, so I decide to explore the shallow reef while everyone else ventures deeper to check out an interesting bommie that Alex knows from previous visits.
The morning sun has just cleared the horizon and the entire panorama of the Sawandarek reef is bathed in a magical shimmering light - like a cathedral through stained glass windows. I check my camera settings to balance the exposure with the radiant beams of golden sun sparkling above.
I spot a small hawksbill sea turtle gliding just above the reef, its avian eyes searching for a choice piece of coral to munch on. Swimming along beside the gentle creature, I start taking photos. The scene is straight out of an underwater photographer's dream - perfect light, a willing photo subject, and an ever-changing background of schooling fish.
» CLICK HERE FOR TOMMY'S FULL ARTICLE AND MORE PHOTOS
"It is quite hard to find the words to express all my gratitude for the commitment you all showed into allowing us to have this unforgettable experience. The diving, the snorkeling, the hiking, the rodeo at the front of the speedboat, every thing was magical!"
Sissi Laude (Raja Ampat, February 2020)
"The Seven Seas is my favorite dive boat. The crew is what makes the experience so special. Everyone is friendly, helpful, and experienced. This makes for a relaxing and comfortable and thoroughly enjoyable cruise. Special thanks to Alex who provided excellent care during a scary but minor health episode. We had a marvelous trip with a great group, great dive conditions and great weather. I'll be back!quot;
Jan Elliot (Raja Ampat, February 2020)
» See all testimonials here
Of Eagles and Aerial Photos
By Tommy Schultz
For anyone visiting Raja Ampat for the first time with a drone - you'll find the views just as stunning high above the reef as they are below the surface of the sea.
However, in some areas you might find an unexpected avian predator - the White-bellied sea eagle.
Normally these graceful raptors are beautiful to observe while they glide in front of the karst limestone islands of Raja Ampat, but if you happen to encounter one when you're flying a $1,500 hunk of plastic and propellers with a camera attached, I can say from personal experience that it's a lot less than fun.
I had just finished shooting an aerial panorama of the beautiful islands around Wayil, my battery warning blinking since I had stayed aloft as long as possible to take in the beautiful scenery.
Bringing my Mavic 2 in for a landing, I look up to see the shadow of an eagle's outstretched wings.
The eagle was between me and the drone, like a great white shark waiting near the surface for you to run out of air and return to the surface.
» CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY
Raja Ampat Slideshow
By Luc Rooman
The Seven Seas - Pertokoan Simpang Siur (Kuta Poleng) C1 - Jl. Setiabudi
Kuta, Badung 80361 - Bali - Indonesia