Destination Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat Misool, Indonesia
There is a substantial amount of hype on the internet about Raja Ampat in General and a bit about Misool in particular. I cant speak for the Northern region of Raja Ampat, but I can offer some helpful firsthand info with regard to Misool. Before my trip, I made every effort to research the destination, but most available info is either from dive operators or others with vested interests. I sincerely hope this objective overview will help others considering a similar trip. Its tough to admit, but i was quite disappointed with the diving itself (the resort wasn't bad though.) I intentionally went during the "high visibility" time of year (NOVEMBER-DEC) and stayed for a whole month and made 3 dives per day. The visibility the WHOLE time was terrible....often as low as 30 feet. Yes, if you looked closely at the reef there were indeed unusual creatures....but the colors were all muted and grey due to low light low vis conditions. Also, most of the reef flats (the richest part of the reefs) have bomb damage from past abuse. The walls were in decent shape...but as mentioned, the reef flats/ crests where the action usually is was often in shambles/rubble. There were a few exceptions...including the fiabacet pinnacle....but this resort is just too far to travel to for just one decent site. I think this area is best visited via livaboard as this way you will have a variety and not just be stuck on the same low vis sites.
Operator Misool Eco Resort.
The dive operators, while very professional do NOT seem to understand how to maximize the sites they dive on with regards to timing of currents. In all fairness I am not altogether sure that these currents can be timed as the area is complex. However, we never seemed to catch the corals opening, and we always (100%) of the time seemed to be going AGAINST the currents. This is a major problem for me as it wastes all of my air and makes the diving more of a chore than relaxing. I think the German Divemasters are such strong swimmers that they dont realize the hardship this caused a couple of Norweigian divers (so much so they skipped out on half the dives.) The dive boats themselves had tons of engine problems and were of the "uncomfortable, simple but functional" basic type. The transport boat to the resort was horrific and took 12 hours....long, awful trip from Sorong...everybody was very upset by this part.
Accomodation Misool Eco Resort
Okay....the resort is indeed as beautiful as the pictures. And the food was at times fairly good. Some problems though: Composting toilets located Right in the resteraunt....fecal smell was strong at times...very unsettling while dining. BAD Mosquitos (this made me wish I opted for a liveaboard as Malaria is a theoretical possibility in this region despite reassurances to the contrary. They ran out of drinking water and had to use a broken desalinator.....very nasty water for several days. The generator room seems to constantly spill fuel right onto the house reef. I came up from snorkeling smelling like Deisel and I'm sure this is not good for the health. Also, I noted this resort uses around 1200 gallons of fuel a month just for the generator....not very ECO if you asked me.
This is the worst part. It litterally takess four days to get to Misool resort from the united states or Europe (could be done in 3 days if you don't stop to rest....brutal!) If this place was a one day flight like Fiji....then it would be worth seeing. But at 4 or 5 times the travelling days for inferior (low vis) diving, I'd definitely pass.
Honestly, this is more or less special interest sort of diving. A dedicated Macro photographer who dosn't need high vis or a research scientist looking for new small inverts might find this perfect. But for a regular recreational diver....don't buy into the hype for the "newest hot spot" as you might be disappointed. I had previously read a report from scientists surveying the area and they did in fact question how broad of an appeal this area would have for dive tourism due to the low visibility (despite high biodiversity that appeals to researchers.)Really this was my general observation...the guests who were regular divers who value visibility, fish numbers, color, coral coverage/density were on the whole disappointed. On the other hand I noticed some guests with 5k cameras seemed pleased at spotting pygmy seahorses and walking sharks. For me, If I had it to do over again, I'd see Misool as part of an overall itinerary on a liveaboard as its worth seeing, but maybe not diving many times day in and day out. Most people in the know seemed to think the fish action and hard corals were more impressive up by Kri, so I would have liked to have at least spent equal time up there (in the North.)
Tips Bring tons of bug repellant...tons (it washes off everytime you swim.) Insist they dive the fiabacet site often as this is really one of only a few good spots here. Many guests who only stayed 10 days only got to dive fiabacet ONCE. This was a bit tragic as most of the other dives were not near the caliber. The resort bleives its better to provide a variety of mediocre dives rather than concentrate on proven sites. Sometimes we actually dove in fields of rubble left from the bygone days of dynamite fishing. Don't waste your time on the house reef....it is patchy due to lots of dynamite damage and is a waste of valuable dive time (most people make only 20 dives on a trip here......) Bring ALL your own gear as the resort had very limited supplies and looked to have rather less than premium gear. Bring spare parts....I was surprised that a resort so isolated didn't even have a spare hose when mine blew out. Plan to dive either in Nov-early Dec or April-May....at least you will stand a small chance of decent visibility (I am quite sure the resort is being "overly optimistic" when they claim 25meter average.) Also, even though they have a whaleshark in their videos, you should know that this are is NOT known for sitings of these creatures. Mantas yes, but no one who works at the resort has ever seen a whaleshark there, and I have no idea why they put it in their videos on the website. Seems misleading as several guests were upset when they learned that no whale sharks had ever been sited.
Misool Eco Resort trip report and review
Destination Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat Misool, Indonesia