Why we were so excited to dive Blue Magic
After completing our Advanced Open Water Padi in the Philippines, we decided to head back to Papua to try out our newfound skills. Diving Blue Magic in Raja Ampat would be our first taste of what this region had to offer.
We didn’t know what to expect from diving Blue Magic but heard that it was meant to be one of the best dive sites in Raja Ampat. There would also be a possibility of seeing oceanic mantas. We’d only ever had a brief encounter with a manta whilst snorkelling in Komodo so we were really hoping to get lucky and see one whilst diving.
Where is Blue Magic?
Blue Magic is a pinnacle reef out in open ocean situated between the island of Kri and the main island of Waisai in the Dampier Strait. It took us around 20 minutes to reach by boat from Corepen Homestay on Pulau Gam.
Reaching a large expanse of water, with no land for miles the boat cut off its engine. The site had no real landmarks and I couldn’t see any inviting turquoise water or even make out a reef. We were intrigued!
Making a quick entry
The timing of and position of entry to this site can be quite tricky. Our Dive Master Sandy explained that a quick descent was required since the current was strong. We didn’t want to get blown off the reef. Today was a particularly windy day so the swells were pretty rough and I was feeling a little sick from the rocking of our small boat.
As we kitted up, I could feel myself shaking with nerves. While trying to roll backwards off the boat, I had a mini freak out but after a few tries, made it in. The only problem was, it is really easy to drift off the site and due to my panic we accidentally missed Blue Magic entirely and had to get back on the boat and realign. Practise makes perfect I guess!
Heading down to 25 metres in low visibility, it took a while before we could make out this almost completely vertical pinnacle. But as we got closer, a vastly scenic reef was revealed. Spectacular schools of fish swirled above our heads while we stayed close to the coral, admiring its colourful overhangs and a variety of sea life both big and small.
So much action in one small area
All around us were huge tornadoes of jacks, swirling schools of hunting barracuda, an eel working its way through the crack and crevices, even a wobbegong shark drifting gently back to his hiding place under the coral.
I had never seen so much underwater action in one single place, it was hard to know where to look first for the sake of missing something. What more could you possibly ask for? But of course, there was more…
Diving with Oceanic Mantas
There are only two known dive sites in Raja Ampat that offer the chance of seeing oceanic mantas. One is Magic Mountain in Misool, and the other is Blue Magic. The mantas gather here to feed on the plankton rich waters and use these spots as cleaning stations.
Hearing that familiar clinking tank sound, we turned to our Dive Master Sandy who was pointing upwards. He had spotted what we had all been waiting for… it was a Manta.
As we made our way up to the top of the pinnacle which is in about 8 metres of water, the current was more intense. My guide Maria found a safe place for her hook and I hung on, clumsily trying to float steady. I’d never ‘hooked in’ before and it was a challenge to find my balance, especially as my eyes were already on other things.
What the current brought with it, was magic
Gliding over us like giant birds or bats or planes, I ducked as a group of oceanic mantas circled over the top of our heads. The majestic rays put on a magical show for us as they playfully chased one another, swooping down and skimming the reef, getting so close we could almost reach out and rub their bellies. It was breathtaking.
In moments of closeness it was possible to look directly into their human-esque eyes and I couldn’t help wondering what they must be thinking of us crazy humans, hanging out in their home.
Was this the laziest dive ever?
Each and every creature was dancing in perfect harmony to the motion of the water. As I unobtrusively observed this natural aquarium, the saying ‘I wish I was a fly on the wall’ could never have been more tangible.
The best bit was, we didn’t even need to move to appreciate it. This was the laziest dive ever. All we needed to do was find a comfortable place to hook in, then just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!
Why Blue Magic is our favourite dive spot in Raja Ampat
Although there are many wonderful sites in this region, for us, Blue Magic is hard to beat. The natural draw to this site is the oceanic mantas and the likelihood is you will see them during your dive – we were fortunate enough on 8 out of our 10 dives.
Aside from the mantas, what we love about Blue Magic is its sheer diversity. On an average dive you can expect to see sharks, barracuda, dogfish tuna, giant trevally, spanish mackerel, bumphead parrotfish, jacks, sweet lips, eels, octopus and even an array of macro life from pygmy seahorses to colourful nudis hiding in the reef. Even in our wildest dreams we never imagined that diving Blue Magic in Raja Ampat would be this good!
The best time to dive Blue Magic
It is possible to dive Blue Magic year round as conditions stay mostly the same. In general, Blue Magic is best dived before lunchtime. It is a popular site which gets quite busy during the peak months of November, December and January. We often asked our Dive Master to take us somewhere else first and come back later when the site was less busy.
Currents and experience levels
Blue Magic is susceptible to a strong current at all times, therefore it is only recommended for more experienced divers, and an advanced level is advised. It is important to make a quick descent due to the current at this site, but once you are hooked in somewhere safe on the top of the pinnacle, it is a very relaxing dive!
Have we been spoilt for life?
As two relatively new divers in the early throes of our underwater careers, we may have just spoilt ourselves for good. A highly experienced diver once told us that it doesn’t get much better than diving Blue Magic in Raja Ampat… We believe him.
Have any of you experienced this magical blue place in Raja Ampat? Where is your favourite dive site and why? We would love to be inspired by your stories and look forward to hearing from you in the comments!