The Indonesian islands of Raja Ampat have been called diving's last frontier. It is a region of tremendous bio-diversity and stunning underwater beauty, far removed, but now reachable by jet service to nearby Papua. For several years, liveaboards were the best way to discover this area. With the opening of the Meridian Adventure Dive Hotel, divers now have a land-based option that combines modern amenities and an eco-conscious footprint with first-class access to the region’s best dive sites.
The founders and staff of Meridian describe it as a fresh take on the dive resort concept that offers “high tech diving with low-tech luxury.” It is a boutique property that forgoes over-the-top amenities and high prices and instead places the emphasis on value while fulfilling the primary elements of a great dive vacation: a modern, reliable infrastructure; easy access to the best sites at the ideal times, and comfortable accommodations complemented by an exceptional food and beverage program.
Rooms feature a clean, modern design that delivers expected creature comforts such as air conditioning, flat-screen televisions, WiFi connectivity and USB power ports, along with some subtle luxuries such as Lintea Mare Italian linens. There is an on-site pool, bar and the Ketapang Restaurant, which offers a Western-influence menu with an Asian infusion, based on ingredients grown on-site or locally sourced. Breakfasts are included with all packages, and meal plans are available, though guests are also encouraged to venture into town to sample local restaurants and support the region's small business economy.
Diving is a primary focus at Meridian, but guests can also enjoy a variety of additional activities and adventures. The marina adjacent to the hotel is a starting point for fishing trips and boat tours, while paddle board safaris give access to hidden bays and pristine beaches. Ashore, there are hiking trails that lead to local villages, jungle rivers and elevated viewpoints. Meridian also participates in a homestay program that allows guests to spend one or more days in area village, where they can immerse in the region's culture while helping create a sustainable source of income for local peoples.
Meridian is a PADI 5 Star Certified Resort with a fleet of five high-performance dive boats with long-range capabilities. Some dive sites are located as close as 10 minutes from the resort, while the range and speed of the fleet gives access to more than 280 sites within the Raja Ampat archipelago. Though certified for up to 22 passengers, each boat typically carries14 or fewer divers to allow for ample personal space. Each boat is fitted with four easy-access boarding ladders and includes safety features such as VHF radio communication, radar and an AIS vessel tracking system.
To lighten the load and hassles of baggage transfer, Meridian's dive center stocks a full complement of premium Aqualung dive equipment, which is included in all dive packages. Guests are welcome to bring their own gear but may want to leave bulkier and heavier items such as BCs and regulators at home and take advantage of the resort's gear policy. The resort employs local guides who have a broad base of knowledge on sites and marine life. Guides carry GoPro underwater cameras, and guests are provided with a free video record of their diving at the end of their trip.
The waters of Raja Ampat hold the highest known concentration and diversity of marine life on earth, including 80 percent of all the world’s coral species, more than 1300 species of fish, six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and 27 varieties of marine mammal. There is no seasonality to the diving, save for the appearance of manta rays between the months of November to March.
The team behind Meridian are deeply committed to both environmental and socially responsible behaviors. These beliefs are manifest in everything from resort operations to proactive conservation initiates. This extends to aspects of daily operation such as the use of fuel-efficient, low-emissions outboard engines and a no-anchoring/no discharge policy for dive boats. Unlike most dive boats, which have hulls coated in anti-fouling paints that can leach into the water, Meridian's boats are hoisted from the water each day, which eliminates the need for toxic hull paints.
The dive center works with PADI's project aware on reef cleaning and environmental awareness programs and coordinates with other area dive shops to eliminate coral-damaging crown of thorns from area reefs. The Meridian team also leads the way in removing plastics and other debris from local mangroves. Since this program was initiated, there has been a marked improvement in coastal water quality in the affected areas.
To limit the introduction of new plastics into the natural environment, the resort does not make use of plastic straws or disposable plastic water bottles. All water at the resort is purified using Vulcan and reverse osmosis treatment systems and made available to guests through onsite water dispensers and reusable glass water bottles. In addition, Meridian offers a range of items such as hand-crafted wallets and bags made entirely from plastic debris, hand-fabricated by local villagers. The resort staff also sponsors environmental awareness programs within the local community.
Plan A Trip
Meridian Adventure Dive Hotel is reached by flying from Jakarta into the regional airport in Sorong, followed by a ferry boat trip across the channel to the island of Waigeo. Caradonna Dive Adventures works with Meridian to create a range of stay-and-dive packages, including six-night/20 dive packages, and 11night/38 dive packages, including a full complement of Aqualung equipment. Our expert agents can also arrange every detail of travel and arrival. To learn more, give us a call at 800-330-6611 or send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.