Located in the southwestern part of the Mansuar Islands in Raja Ampat, you find a small village known as Sauwandarek. The slightly dilapidated look of the village from a distance and the old structures surrounding the working jetty might not look like much. Still, this small village is home to a truly unique and incredible diving experience.
The jetty is located in a natural bay that protects it from the stronger currents that are known to flow around Mansuar, creating a perfect diving location and a natural haven for the marine species of the area. Moreover, the proximity of the dive site to the strong currents of the Dampier Straits brings with it the masses of schooling fish and a safe and natural environment for the turtle species that call Raja Ampat home.
The dive site is a gently sloping reef that extends to the East and West of the jetty structure. The reef slopes are littered with impressive rock formations covered in colorful hard coral and abundant soft coral growth, from massive sea fans to anemones of all colours and sizes. The topography of the dive site is one of the most awe-inspiring in all of Raja Ampat. The dive site is home to an abundance of macro life. When trying to fine comb the coral formations, it is possible to spot nudibranchs, pipefish, blue-ringed octopus, and even pigmy seahorses if you are lucky.
For those more interested in larger marine species, Sauwandarek is also the perfect dive spot. Often while on the way to the dive site, you can spot dolphins playfully swimming in the wake of the boat, and at certain times of the year, pilot whales can be spotted in the distance.
The dive site itself is well known for the turtles that call the reef their home. One such turtle is a massive green turtle female that has made the crevasses of the rock formations her home. Divers are often treated to her majestically coming out of her hiding spots for the perfect photographic opportunities. The dive site is also home to a large Bat Fish school that is usually found around the jetty. This group is known to buddy up with divers and playfully dart around them for the entire dive.
Just off the reef slopes, divers will often spot barracuda or bump head parrotfish making their way along the coast, especially at the turn of the tide—the perfect time to dive the site. Depending on the tide’s rising and falling, the dive starts from the west or the east. However, regardless of the starting point, you will most likely end your dive in the shallows around the jetty, an area where large numbers of smaller schooling fish are eagerly waiting for the attention of divers. With such an abundance of fish in such a small area, divers often have no idea where to look.
Sauwandarek Jetty is one of the best-hidden gems of the region, offering divers of all levels an easy but incredible diving experience year-round.