Raja Ampat Currents

  • April 8, 2020

Many people wonder about Raja Ampat currents: How strong are they? When do they occur? How to dive them? Are they manageable or not? Here is all you need to know about Raja Ampat currents.

First of all, yes, currents are present in Raja Ampat. It is actually a good thing for us divers and snorkelers. The currents bring nutrient rich water to the reef, which also attracts the wonderful marine life that we love to observe. That is why we don’t want to avoid currents entirely, but we want to dive them in a manageable way.

several seafans underwater shown as example how marine life benefits from Raja Ampat currents with a scuba diver in the background

Raja Ampat currents are very much appreciated by seafans as an easy way to obtain nutrients. photo credit: ArtAndWater

The Raja Ampat current strength and direction depend on several factors. The most significant are tides, moon phases and reef topography. Raja Ampat gets mild to strong currents, although the currents here are not as strong and unpredictable as in other diving regions of Indonesia.

Tides and Moon

Currents tend to get stronger around full moon and new moon, and in between they lessen. Further, we have two cycles of high tide and low tide each day. In the hours with the transition from high tide to low tide and vice versa, currents pick up. During high tide and low tide, we usually have a very mild to no current at all.

It may happen that you start a dive in Raja Ampat with no current and suddenly the current starts picking up during a dive. Therefore, it is very important to choose a responsible dive operator with experienced dive guides, who know how to dive the various reefs in these cases. Thorough dive briefings are also essential. They prepare you to adjust the dive plan together with your guide, in case currents change while you are in the water. Responsible dive operators will also plan the dives according to the tide tables and moon phases, in order to avoid unmanageable conditions to begin with.
Additionally, our Papua Explorers dive guides will always do a current check before guests get into the water, to make sure the conditions are suitable.

Reef Topography and Styles of Diving

As mentioned, the reef topography is also an important factor to consider, and it helps us to figure out how to dive a certain dive site at a certain time. Luckily, most Raja Ampat currents are horizontal and we rarely get up and down currents. Obviously certain places that get a down current at a certain time will be avoided by responsible dive guides.

Long slopes

The reefs along larger islands in Raja Ampat have the form of a long gentle slope. Here we can use the current to drift over colorful, seemingly endless reefs without any effort. It is important to maintain good buoyancy control of course.


In other cases, at reef corners for example, we would prefer to dive at the split. That means right where the current hits the reef, enjoying the fish action on the frontlines. Here we might use a zig-zag dive pattern, sometimes swimming with, and sometimes against the currents. Later we might end the dive with a nice long drift while shallowing up. Reef hooks are very useful tools in split currents. But make sure you know how to use them properly without damaging any aquatic life. At Papua Explorers Resort we are happy to give a helpful introduction on that.

Protected Bays

We also have some lovely dive sites in Raja Ampat that are even protected from currents due to their topography and surrounding islands. These reefs are perfect for diving on the first day of your stay. As check dive sites, for beginners, or people who would like to rather avoid currents at first. If you start out from there, we can ease you into the currents gradually and take you to more challenging dive sites once you are ready.

a scuba diver swimming underwater between many small fish in Raja Ampat currents

While diving in currents we can witness beautiful marine life, for example schools of fish, and sometimes predators hunting them. photo credit: ArtAndWater


There are currents in Raja Ampat and they are great for the marine life. Currents vary depending on several factors. Good, responsible dive operators will help you manage and enjoy the Raja Ampat currents with ease.

Also Interesting

If you would like to learn more about Raja Ampat diving and the marine life, see our related page HERE.

You may also like to read another BLOGPOST to learn when is the best time to visit Raja Ampat.