Of our six weeks in Raja Ampat, Dayan had the best snorkeling. It was the only time we snorkeled with manta rays, I had my best cuttlefish encounter at Dayan, and we saw more bumphead parrotfish here than anywhere else. The sun came out a couple times making the coral glow and sparkle like a psychedelic kaleidoscope.
Our departure from Rufas was delayed about six hours because of a storm and big (2m?) waves. I definitely didn’t want to be out at sea in a little boat in that weather. People with more money and less time opt to take larger boats (cost can be double or more) that handle stormy seas better… something to keep in mind when planning.
Here’s our bungalow at Dayan.
I keep saying don’t come to Raja Ampat for the views, but I keep finding nice photos.
At Yenros I spent hours in the water searching for the cuttlefish that a number of people had seen at the reef there. No luck. On our second day at Dayan I ran into this fella.
He (?) took me over to his friend and showed off with this blue and white striped color pattern, the courtship colors.
Those colors only lasted about 15 seconds. The smaller one (the female?) wasn’t interested. I ended up spending the next half hour with these cuttlefish, mostly with the larger one. I loved the way they changed colors and patterns as they moved around to blend in with the surroundings.
While the cuttlefish was eating, its underside was a constant flux of colors — a light show, shades of blue, brown, and white.
The next day was manta rays. However, I had killed my camera battery earlier with photos like these:
so the only photos I have from our morning manta session are from Jens.
We visited a manta cleaning station where the animals come to have smaller fish eat stuff off their bodies. The mantas would hover and wait while the smaller fish did their thing. They’d even line up and wait their turn for this service! We saw as many as five mantas at once.
I also love this photo that Jens took of a filefish (Aluterus scriptus?) eating a jellyfish while we were with the mantas.
The five of us who took that short excursion to the mantas came back to the homestay excited, happy, and hungry. We had barely finished lunch when we noticed that the mantas were gathering offshore from where we were sitting.
Jens and I grabbed our equipment and swam out. We had to swim a ways so we were out in the deep blue with even murkier water than we had had in the morning. The currents had stalled out, and the plankton were thick — which was exactly why the mantas were gathering there feeding.
The mantas are calm and graceful, but they appeared quickly out of the murky blue water scaring me a number of times. We saw four at once. There must have been six or seven out there with us.
Wow, seriously? Amazing! Now let’s get to the snorkeling at Dayan. We saw the first of many pipefish,
the first of many worm cucumber,
and the first of many spaghetti worms.
We had great fun with anemonefish.
Sorry for so many photos, but I’m having trouble culling. This place was brilliant.
Warning if you go: on the narrowest part of the island there’s a homestay with signs prohibiting you from crossing the island. It’s the only private property nonsense we came across in Raja Ampat and reminded me of Egypt. I hope it’s not indicative of Raja Ampat’s future.