Raja Ampat, in Indonesia’s far-flung West Papua province, is surely among the top contenders for best location in the world for underwater imagery. The biodiversity here is simply overwhelming, and even the most seasoned diver will be astonished by what it has to offer.
The waters surrounding the more than 1,500 islands of this sprawling archipelago boast the highest density of marine species anywhere on the planet. Photographers need to be well equipped to take advantage of Raja Ampat’s staggering array of photo opportunities—everything from a pygmy seahorse tucked into a beautiful gorgonian to a manta ray flying through pristine blue water—if they are to capture this breathtaking underwater seascape in all its glory.
So don’t take my word for it. Browse my images to get a sense of the spectacular color and life beneath the waterline in Indonesia’s—and perhaps the world’s—most mind-blowing photo destination.
By diving down to the area of the reef with the fastest currents, you’ll witness an explosion of life, such as these glassfish. Enjoy the moment and take pictures quickly as this same current will rapidly drag you to the other side of the reef
There are few areas like Raja, where you can go from top-notch reef diving to superb muck photography in the span of a single dive
The visibility in Raja is typically around 100 feet, depending on what the currents bring. The clarity of the water is ideal for photographing pelagic subjects like this passing manta ray
While an invasive species in the Caribbean, the lionfish in Raja Ampat fits in perfectly, with their bright colors matching the surrounding scenery
The endless soft coral in Raja Ampat can be found in seemingly every color of the spectrum
Like the coral, the water of Raja Ampat comes in a variety of hues, but it is the perfect turquois blue that will remain in your memory—and images—for longest
Leaving the walls filled with life, diving in a saltwater mangrove between islands reveals new subjects in a new environment filled with cathedral lighting, such as this stingless jellyfish
Not all of Raja Ampat’s beauty is confined to the underwater world. The landscape observed while navigating along this region reveals thousands of small islands covered in lush vegetation
Your camera will need a rest after a hard day’s work in Raja. It's not uncommon to take upwards of 500 images on a single day’s diving here