Even though diving activities has long time exist in Biak, but only recently it became an industry – flourishing after the local government held an event for underwater photography competition and invited underwater photographer professional from all over the world. I led a group of six divers from Jakarta to visit and explore the underwater world of this lovely little island to find out more – as well as basking the experience.
Biak is one of the three largest islands located at Cendrawasih Bay, just north of Papua mainland. The isles of Biak consist around 30 islands and few atolls. Due to its location, during the monsoon the waves are relatively mellow because the strong wind from Australia won’t be able to reach the area. Their underwater world is located in the heart of a coral triangle. It offers dramatic wall dives with plain contour, decorated with stunning soft coral gardens swarmed with various reef fishes. My group and I determined to make use of our four days worthwhile.
Day 1: World War 2 Plane Wreck
A warzone between the Allies and Japanese army during the World War 2, some dive spots in Biak are dedicated to let divers visit the wrecks of war boats or fighter planes underwater. Right after we’ve arrived at the hotel, our guide Pak Eric, which was an old friend of mine, took us straight for our first day dive at the Catalina wreck – about 30 minutes from the port. Catalina was an Americanmade amphibious aircraft that drowned during the Pacific War, and it’s a very popular dive site here in Biak. The wreck reside about 30 meters deep in a slope leaning toward flat contour.
We started the dive at the shallow flat area and moved to the wall with a little effort against the current. We descended into 30 meters through the wall while the current slightly reduced. The wreck started to be vaguely visible from above, and the deeper we went we were able to see it clearly. There was totally no current around the plane, and it was still incredibly intact – only its body was covered with soft corals such anemone and seafan, and not much reef found around it. We spent our surface interval by having lunch, before moving on to our second dive spot at Owi Island. The contour here is mostly drop wall with visibility that can reach up to 20 meters. Some large-sized seafan corals and other colorful reef corals can be found almost everywhere. There were one or two sharks passing outside of the wall and some schooling snappers roaming around the upper part of it.
Day 2: Stunning Wall & Schooling Pelagic Fish
Due to bad weather on the eastern part of the island, where we planned to be our dive spot today, Pak Eric advised us to go to the west instead. This just shows the best thing about diving in Biak, where a small storm hitting one area would not affect the weather on the opposing side. True story – the sun still shined and the waves were flat like nothing happened. We anchored the boat near to Waroi village and start our dive of the day at Tanjung Samber.
We back-rolled from the boat and descended into 20 meters deep, where we found a wonderful wall with colorful reefs and an abundant of reef fishes around the corner. We saw schooling jackfish swished away from the wall and a couple of black tip sharks crossed our path – which seemed curious and tried to approach us. Not only pelagic fish, the wall at Tanjung Samber also has lots of interesting critters which makes every macro photographer enthusiast would instantly fall in love. At the end of the second dive we saw schooling giant trevallies fade away to the far deep blue. On our last dive of the day, our next dive location was at Waroi, named after the same coast side village we departed earlier. Not so different with our first and second dive, the wall in Waroi was also amazing. On 20 meters deep, we followed the mild current which led us to the west. Beautiful fishes from anthias, wrasse, bat fish and many more roamed around the wall – accompanied us to indulge our second day’s closure dive.
Day 3: Bottomless Underwater Cave
Finally, the weather in the east was friendly, so we set sail there for our third day. This area is called the Padaido archipelago, which consist of more than 30 small islands connected by an alluring atoll – Pak Eric is a native of this isles. On the summer the tide can be very low, making the islands connected each other by sands of the atoll and allowing people to travel from one island to another just by walking! Baracuda point site became our first dive site today. It was a combination of slope and wall contours with mild flowing current, creating an exceptionally divine backdrop to watch schooling barracudas and pelagic fishes swam through the wall. After spending our surface interval, we moved our boat to Wundi Island at the west side of Biak Island, considered to be one of the best dive sites in the area with its bottomless cave and plunging wall slope.
We started our dive above the Wundi cave which located at the shallow part of a plateau, and descended into the cave carefully since there were sludge everywhere. With the space between the walls inside the cave is only a mere 2-3 meters and small branching paths that would lead to dead ends, I recommend to follow your local guide closely. Inside the cave we found a swarm of red soldier fish roaming around the cave’s wall and juvenile lobsters hiding and snooping through the holes that are spread all over the wall. Later on the surface Pak Eric told us that a few years back, you can still find lots of lobsters hanging on the cave’s wall – as opposed to nowadays where most of the lobsters are hunted by the fishermen. When the sun ray radiated into the cave, it became a natural luminance, helping us to explore the cave – all the while giving us a remarkable snapshot moment. Pak Eric then led us to the exit gate which culminated on the outer wall of Wundi Island. We spent the rest of our dive time here where we met some nudie branches, ornamental crabs and other small cute creatures all over the place.
Day 4: Padaido Archipelago
Still amazed with the Padaido experience the day before, we decided to spend our last day in the area once again. This time we explored a small island called Rurbas Kecil, located on the south of Owi Island. Rurbas Kecil is an uninhabited island that occasionally used as a resting place for local fisherman after a day on the sea. It took almost an hour by our boat to reach this tiny peninsula, but we were lucky that morning was so friendly to us, with little waves and the sea breeze seemed to greet our arrival. We started to dive not so far from Rurbas Kecil’s shore, descended straight into 20 meters deep, and dove alongside the Rurbas wall heading north. Soft and hard coral such as anemone, dendronephthya and acropora were hanging all over the wall. A flock of anthias and damsel fish were seen fulfilling the pristine corals, and once in a while, a schooling jack fish swam pass through our group. Maybe we realised that this was our last dive, so we enjoyed our time – until we lost track of time. Suddenly it’s already time to go back to the surface, Pak Eric berth our boat at the white sand beach of Rurbas Kecil, and let us spend the rest of our day snorkelling and sun-bathing.