Cenderawasih Bay, on the east coast of Indonesia’s West Papua area, is an off-the-beaten-path resort. It is Indonesia’s largest marine park and home to a varied range of marine species. One of the best spots in the world to swim with whale sharks is in West Papua’s Nabire and Cenderawasih Bay. Cenderawasih Bay is gradually becoming the go-to place for remote diving, despite its lack of biodiversity compared to neighboring Raja Ampat. This is due to the fact that the location is one of the few sites in the world where whale sharks can be swum with. You can swim and see Cenderawasih bay whale shark up close. Cenderawasih Bay is frequently said to as the best site on the planet to swim with Whale Sharks.
Cenderawasih Bay National Park: What to See
Cenderawasih Bay, also known as Bird Of Paradise Bay, is Indonesia’s largest marine national park. The Teluk Cenderawasih National Park was established in 1993 and today has 150 different coral species.
It’s also home to over 200 different fish species, dugongs, and dolphins (I saw a few during the boat trip from Nabire to Sowa). Around Cenderawasih Bay, blue whales have also been spotted. The marine park is home to four different varieties of turtles: hawksbill turtles, green turtles, olive ridley turtles, and leatherback turtles (the largest of all living turtle species).
Cenderawasih Bay Whale Shark: How To See
Whale sharks are more easily spotted in Papua, Indonesia, than in other parts of the world.
They frequently congregate around local fishing boats known as Bagans, which are moored for months at a time just offshore – barely a 10-minute boat trip from Sowa.
Bagans are large fishing boats/platforms with fishing nets suspended beneath them, used at night to catch small fish and squids.
Cendrawasih Bay whale sharks are thought to bring good luck to local fishermen, thus they are often given a little percentage of their daily harvest to keep them around.
When is the best time to go to Cenderawasih Bay?
The whale sharks in the Cenderawasih Bay area are the world’s only non-migratory whale sharks. In Indonesia, there is no specific whale shark season.
Whale sharks may be spotted all year near Cenderawasih Bay, thanks to the fisherman onboard the Bagans who feed them.
The monsoon season, which occurs twice a year in this section of Papua: between July/August and November/December, reduces visibility.
However, the visibility was still fantastic with 30m+ during my visit in July during the monsoon season.
Whale sharks are best seen early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The excursion to the Bagans in the late afternoon is only possible if you stay in Sowa.