Melissa’s Garden Dive Site

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Melissa’s Garden dive site is close to Batanta Island and is a great dive site for macro divers and macro underwater photographers. Found in the north-west part of the Raja Ampat region, the site is made up of a large coral garden reef with large areas of coral patches that come in a variety of colours and shapes. Both hard and soft corals are found in abundance and have created some magnificent formations that are home to an equally large variety of marine life.

Clown Trigger Fish

Clown Trigger Fish – Credit: Kaelyn Lynch

The dive site is relatively simple and so suitable for all level of divers. The soft corals include many sponges and anemones. Divers can search these to find many brightly coloured nudibranchs and many anemone fish nesting amongst the anemones. Divers will be able to spot many different species of these brightly coloured fish.

Divers will also be able to spot rabbitfish, sea snakes, lionfish, angelfish, and pygmy seahorses. In deeper parts of the dive, barracuda and sometimes manta rays are spotted. The site is also a place known for sightings of the tasselled Wobbegong shark. Due to over fishing of all shark species for the shark fin trade, sightings of these amazing creatures are becoming less and less common. They can normally be spotted here though and are often joined by the more common reef sharks.

Melissa’s Garden Diving Map

Melissa's Garden Dive Site Map

Melissa’s Garden Dive Map. Credit: Kaelyn Lynch

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Kaalyn Lynch November 06, 2017

When I’d tell my divers that we’d be spending a good chunk of our dive on Melissa’s Garden at 5 meters, I was typically met with confusion and a healthy bit of skepticism.

There is plenty to see as you work your way along the fingers of coral at deeper depths, including wobbegongs, octopuses, turtles, sharks, and even big congregations of fish.

But, all this pales in comparison to what awaits in the shallows. In the land of beautiful reefs, Melissa’s is queen for a reason. Cresting over the top of a plateau, you are met with an impossibly beautiful coral garden that never failed to make my breath catch in my throat.

Blue-tipped spikes of staghorn coral jut out in every direction. Massive table corals are like trees on the Serengeti, providing shelter for young white-tipped reef sharks. Bunches of soft coral splash colors across the already full canvas.

Juvenile black-tip reef sharks play amongst the petals of lettuce coral, obscured by torrents of small fish. The shallow water acts as a prism for the sun’s rays, ensuring the colors are in full mesmerizing display.

Inevitably, upon surfacing my divers would turn to me and ask, “Why didn’t we spend the whole dive at 5 meters?”

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