Which is Better Snorkeling Only Palau or Raja Ampats and Banda
Replies: 32 - Last Post: Nov 8, 2012 2:43 PM Last Post By: coralqueen
Jul 9, 2012 5:59 AM
Which is Better Snorkeling Only Palau or Raja Ampats and BandaIf you were not a diver and have been to both the Raja Ampat and Banda Islands and Palau in the past 4-5 years which would you select, IN RA it would be on a livavourd (SevenSeas) andin Palau it would be daily motor trips to the Rock Islands and elsewhere.??
Jul 10, 2012 3:53 PM
1It's a difficult choice - I've been to both Palau and RA in the past 5 years. Both have amazing marine life and both are expensive and remote. Much depends on the time of year and what you are interested in seeing. Nov-Apr is the best time for both places. I also have to add that I'm a diver, and my advice is based on diving although I have tried to consider it from a snorkeler's perspective.
For me, I would probably choose RA because the marine life is slightly more prolific than Palau, sites are slightly better suited to snorkelling and it's slightly more pristine. In Palau you get quite a lot of snorkelers and divers, whereas in RA the place is pretty much empty. RA is possibly a little prettier underwater - more colour, better coral and more variety and volume of fish, although fewer sharks. I emphasise the word 'slight' as Palau would come a very close second to RA.
There is a site in RA which is only about 5 metres deep where at the right time of year vast numbers of manta rays gather, easily seen by snorkelers although the current is strong. Whilst there are mantas in Palau at German Channel, they tend to be deeper and fewer in number so it's not so easy to snorkel with them. The signature dive site at Palau, Blue Corner, has a lot of shark life but is pretty much impossible to snorkel as the action is happening around 20 metres. The Rock Islands are nice and great for snorkelling, but overall I think the quality of RA is just a little bit better.
Edited by: dxb1969
Jul 10, 2012 6:03 PM
Jul 11, 2012 7:03 AM
3dxb1969: We are going to the RA and Banda Dec.9-22. We are on a schooner called the SevenSeas. It takes 16 guests and this trip has 12 divers and 4 snorkelers and a crew of 7. We are pretty good swimmers and wear blow-up vests, based on an incident 32 years ago with an under tow that was not pretty, and we have a guide for the 4 snorkelers. I understand the currents are not bad except I am not sure what zebra is referring to. When I dove years back I came into some tricky underwater currents that took a lot of endurance to manage but never in all my years snkeling.
We are only considering Palau but it would have to be May 2-6 not April. Do you think that makes a difference? If we can afford it we would be taking an expedition boat from Papau New Guinea to Palau over 14 days with 9 of those days snorkeling (somme folks would dive) and the other days stopping at islands that have very interesting cultures. It is pricey and the plan would be to extend our stay in Palau for 4 days as opposed to just flying home. But if it were more of the same (RA) we might have had our fill for now in RA and the Banda Islands.
Jul 11, 2012 7:39 AM
4I think Zebra is possibly suggesting that you learn to dive in Raja Ampat, I'm not sure.
RA in Dec is prime time especially for manta rays and probably better than Palau in May. Again, it's only a slight difference. I think you will find that if you snorkel RA in Dec, you won't see anything in Palau that you didn't see in RA, except for jelly fish lake and perhaps a few more sharks - but I'm not sure how easy it would be for snorkelers to see them. Given you only intend to spend 4 days in Palau, it's probably still worth it just for the experience.
Jul 12, 2012 5:28 AM
5What I mean to say above in post #4 is that since you are anyway going to end up in Palau at the end of a trip, you may as well stay there for a few days and have a snorkel, rather than fly straight home.
Jul 14, 2012 7:35 PM
6I don't think the dive center in Raja Ampat will let you to take the open water course there. The current can be real strong sometimes and it's not suitable for beginner. If you want to just snorkel, I would suggest don't even bother going to Raja Ampat. Yes, It's beautiful, remote and expensive but the point of people going there number one is for diving. Yes again you can see manta in Arborek by just snorkel around.
Jul 16, 2012 6:08 AM
7WE are snorkeking only and will be with a guide in the water for 4 of us plus 8 divers with 2 dive masters. We have always wore blow up vests so is anyone saying that at the varios reef they tack us to with a zodiac while the divers are 50-200 tards away the currents are an issue, The firm Seven Seas has been around for 11 years and from thatI could Google has a good reputation. But I do not want finding mysel where we are swimming againg a current as opposed to a drift snorkel.
I have been assured it is a non-issie but is any of you have snorked and we are o.k. swimmers, but we are 65-68, but if any disagree I wouldlike to hear now before I make thefinal payment in August though we do in Dec.
We have NO plans on diving.
Jul 17, 2012 1:54 PM
8As you know currents are often unrpedictable. As written above RA can be some currents. And could spoil your experience or snorkelling. As you already know good diving sites aren't always the same as good snokeling spots. I doubt the 4 of you doing snorkelling will have their own or personal zodiac always available to trip from the mother boat whenever you may want ? I guess the mother boat is doing most of the money with the divers, not with the snorkelers....Understand what I mean. Divers will have priorty...
Why don't you plan to go Banda and rent their your personal local boat for days or week. Boat will be yours all day long. Than you can organise yourself your own program with the captain. Or charter your own and live abroad boat from Ambon, cruise around Ambon Islands then go to Banda back and forth. Or do the same from Sorong : look to charter a boat and cruise to RA (yes it's possible). Still you'll be free and responsible of your choices hours after hours. Why relying on very expansive commercial organisation when you can do the same and be free of you own management for less money ?
Jul 17, 2012 6:35 PM
9We are already committed to SevenSeas and paid $500/couple for a dedicted zodiac. They will be taking 3 vs. 2 zodiacs on this trip plus an extra divemaster to be our snorkel guide, A couple we know went with this firm and they came through as promised keeping in mind we are paying $525.day/person for 12 days which is about 25% more than many of the other liveaboards in the region.
Thanks though for the thought.
Jul 17, 2012 6:53 PM
10The thing is, Ashley, the Lonely Planet forums tend to attract budget tourists who are happy to rough it in order to save money rather than more discriminating travelers who are willing to pay higher prices for better service and more comfort. So the underlying assumption for just about every question here is how do I do what I want to do cheaply. This isn't a correct assumption for you question, but the replies still start out with that as a basis. I didn't answer you because I don't snorkel much ;-) You'll love Seven Seas, and I'm sure you'll have a great time on your trip.
Jul 18, 2012 4:17 AM
11quero; We did not want to spend this much nut the RA were the "top of the world: as as Iread masny shallow places that divers love (30-40ft) that are right next to walls/reefs in 10-12 feet of water and we decided to splurge to see the best. I gather that this may top Palau and we will not go on that expedition boat because it is even more exoensive, though bigger ,440ft sailing boat with 90 guests.
But if Palau is not as fascinating and Banda and the islands along the way from Papau New Guibea wht waste the money.
Jul 18, 2012 5:18 AM
12Still, Ashley, most LPers are looking at guesthouse-type options and taking public ferries and buses to avoid flight fares. What you are doing is rather at the opposite end of the spectrum! The kind of trip you're looking at is simply not the way that most LPers like to travel (which is more in line with quai13's reply at #8). For that reason, I'm not very sure you'll get the sort of answers here that will help you. Maybe you should be asking at a freediving forum like DeeperBlue or something.
Jul 18, 2012 11:45 AM
13Ashley, the response from Quero is spot on. There can't be many people around who have snorkelled both RA and Palau, and often the responses you get on TT do not address your specific concerns. My view remains that RA is marginally better than Palau. With regard to your safety concerns, simply put, as you are in a group, are going with a reputable company, have a dedicated zodiac, a guide & safety vests, then you are going to be pretty safe and I would not be overly worried about currents. Go for it and enjoy the experience.
Jul 18, 2012 6:25 PM
14I would say, additionally, if you are seriously concerned about currents, buy a Nautilus Lifeline and take it with you each time you enter the water. It's not an expensive device all things considered, and it requires no base station. Any boat within an 18 km range will receive a distress signal on the emergency frequency, and any boat with a GPS will be able to pinpoint your location with the signal the device transmits. Further, there's a radio function, so you can actually speak on the emergency channel to any receiver within 11 km. You just clip it on your vest and go! It's about the size of a cigarette pack.
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