In Indonesia’s Papua and West Papua regions lies Cenderawasih Bay, a diving location that is becoming increasingly famous throughout the world. Declared a marine national park in 2002, Cenderawasih Bay offers unrivalled whale shark encounters, beautiful reefs, diverse marine life and fascinating wrecks.
Cenderawasih Bay is famous for its whale shark encounters. The fishermen use nets, filled with small fish, to attract the bigger fish for catching. However, the whale sharks have learnt how to suck the fish out of the nets, resulting in six or seven of these gentle giants congregating around each platform at a time. Whale shark encounters are always special; however, they are brief and often only involve one of these magnificent creatures. Cenderawasih, on the other hand, sets itself apart as a location where you can see many whale sharks at a time, at a very close range for extended periods of times.
Whale shark sightings are what attract most divers to this remote, idyllic location; however, an array of other diving opportunities makes Cenderawasih Bay truly special. When exploring other areas of the bay you will find beautiful coral reefs, home to a variety of endemic marine life, dolphins, sharks, dugongs and four different species of turtle. The abundance of fascinating aquatic life, along with it’s high percentage of endemic species, is why Cenderawasih Bay is known by some as the ‘Galapagos of the East’. Cenderawasih Bay is also home to many WWII shipwrecks and sunken planes, the most fascinating being Shinwa Maru. Lying at depths from 16 to 34 metres, the Shinwa Maru is a 120m Japanese cargo ship that was sunk in 1944 by US forces. Scattered with many fascinating artefacts and displaying its two large blast holes from its deadly demise, this sunken history is incredible for those who love wreck diving.
A visit to Cenderawasih Bay is almost guaranteed to give you the best whale shark experience of your life and what makes this location extremely unique is that the gentle giants are present all year round.
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