In the spring, Murray and I started talking about a fall trip. Where should we go? What should we do?
One of our methods of deciding where to go is to ask ourselves “What destination is on the list that we need to travel to while we are still young (ish) and mobile enough to do the traveling?” And also” What is on the list that has been on the list for too long?”
One destination came to mind right away. Raja Ampat. It is a scuba diving destination in Indonesia, off West Papua. We wanted to go there years ago when it first popped up as a superb place to dive. It is hard to get to, so we never made the effort to get there, and now EVERYONE goes there. We talk often about going to spots before they get popular, and we missed that chance with Raja Ampat, so we decided we had better go now.
We started looking for scuba dive liveaboards, as that is the best way to experience Raja Ampat. During our preliminary search, we realize right away that it is already late for booking for the fall. Some of these boats get booked up to two years in advance!
We do have a standard of quality for liveaboards and Murray compiles a long list of possibilities. (Sort of like the Giller Prize method of determining the best fiction for the year.) It is then my turn to look deeper into them and find openings and get a very short list.
From this short list I email the companies directly and start asking questions. I ask the same questions to everyone so I can compare responses. Sometimes I even ask for info that is on the website. I want to see what the response is. Most responses are chatty, we’ll answered. Some just say….See our website. These guys get dumped off my list rather quickly. Building rapport and having a conversation is the goal.
Combining availability, dates and email responses, Murray and I decide to book the Coralia Liveaboard for September 11 to 22, which we do right away. It is a 10 day liveaboard doing 4 or 5 dives a day. Basically, we will eat, sleep and dive. We are now excited!
The next step is to get to Sorong, West Papua, where the liveaboard departs.