After our short sortie in Misool, we left for our overnight passage, headed to Trion Bay.
A much talked about dive area, with the added bonus of being one of the last places you can see whale sharks in the ‘wild’, without paying hundreds of dollars and or having a ton of other tourist swimming in front of your camera and basically molesting the creatures!
This all sounded like a bit of adventure and excitement for us.
We had read of a stunning waterfall that was near the entrance to the Triton Bay, so after a very easy overnighter we headed for it.
It was HUGE! A giant waterfall flowing directly into the sea off the hills and mountains of remote and wild West Papua.
What a sight!
This of course needed closer inspection and so the anchor was dropped (in pretty rolly and jumpy conditions, in the middle of nowhere in the bay!) and the dinghy was lowered for the great expedition!
The bumpy dinghy ride was made all the more hilarious as we got close to the falls and realised the Go Pro had suddenly died and we had no other camera with us!
Silly amateur mistake!
So, we turned around into the waves and bumped our way back to Waterhorse, where I leapt, like an ungraceful damn gazelle, up to grab the cameras! The long legs come in handy on a boat for sure!
Take 2, back to the falls, dinghy anchor dropped in the sand and a swim to the falls. It was wavy and hilarious and wild!
We all stood under the monster falls, amazed at the rushing water and the force and power of it.
Heads and bodies were dunked under some of the smaller side shoots, competitions were had on how long people could keep their heads under the icy waters and general fun and rock climbing ensured.
It was an excellent refreshment after the constant salt we are always in.
We needed to make it to an anchorage around the corner for the night so headed back to the boat to continue our pilgrimage, whale sharks on the mind!
Next day, refreshed and up bright and early, coffees in hand, we headed off across the huge expanse of Triton Bay toward Triton Bay Divers, the only resort in the whole area.
Triton Bay is HUGE. The bay itself is bigger across than is it from Auckland to Great Barrier.
When I realised that, it was a true mind f…. this place is just massive. And so very remote and unpopulated, not to mention wild, extreme and beautiful. The huge tidal flush of water twice a day brings many nutrients into the bay, abundantly feeding the corals and marine life.
Triton Bay Divers, the only dive resort in the area, is situated on a smaller island off the mainland called Aiduma. A jungle clad island with multiple sandy beaches and clear water.
We anchored in the back of the bay, close to a secluded and private little beach where the children spent hours, playing, swimming, snorkeling, finding bugs and hermit crabs and making us our own private resort, where we were served beers and snacks and had activities planned for us!
It was pretty hilarious, until the ‘Island Resort Staff’ started to bicker and boss us around. We then decided the resort must be under new management and we would only give it 2 stars on Trip Advisor and paddled back to Waterhorse, leave the dodgy ‘staff’ on shore, to sort themselves out!
Chae spent the next few days diving, he did 5 dives while there, so got to see a lot of the underwater life, which is outstanding.
The team at Triton Bay Divers were helpful and welcoming, Chae really enjoying his dives and getting to see some exceptional marine life. Baby Barramundis, so many Nudibranchs, giant Moray Eels, several different types of Pygmy Seahorses, schooling GT’s, Mobula Rays, octopus, cuttlefish…basically the list goes on… (I can’t list anymore as I get too jealous of not being under the water with him seeing it all!!)
We also all snorkeled one of the dive sites, called Aquarium, which was truly mind-blowing.
It has the most brightly coloured soft corals we have ever seen, along with masses of pelagic fish, and a ton of small and interesting fish and creatures. Nudibranchs included, along with these cute tiny fish that liked to swim about our heads whole we snorkeled, staying with us the entire time and really making us laugh as they darted back and forward across our masks.
Unfortunately, the Go Pro decided that we were not meant to have any photos of this spot and when we went to download them back at the boat, nothing was there…. seriously disappointed. Luckily Emelia had some good ones on her camera, which she kindly let me use!
Still, whale sharks were calling us, so we left the bay by the Dive Resort and headed to the bottom of a long skinny island where the fishing bagans anchor, in the strait between the island and mainland.
A bagan is a fishing boat/platform that drop huge nets underneath at night, with bright lights on, to catch tiny anchovy like fish and squid, which are then either dried or sold by the bucket load at the local markets.
Dried fish is big business here and these guys catch tons of them.
It is quite a sight at night when the 5 of them out in the strait would light up at dusk, like brightly glowing stars shimmering across the water.
Whale Sharks are usually seen feeding around the bagans in the early morning. The fishermen will often feed them as having an ‘Ikan Besar’ (translated literally as Big Fish) near your bagan is meant to be good luck.
Supposedly you roll up to these bagans and ask for the Ikan Besar and the fishermen will tell you if they are there. They then will give the giants some of the bait fish they have caught to keep them around so you can swim with them. In turn, you pay them the equivalent of what a bucket costs, which is around 50,000 rupiah, so $5NZD!
So, come 6am the next day, we rolled up to the closest bagan, asking the fisherman for the Ikan Besar, they kind of pointed to one of the corners, which we thought they were meaning to the next bagan, but then Noah happened to look in the water in front of the dinghy and there it was, the big fish!!!
Right there, first bagan, first day!
We could not believe our luck, especially when we saw that there were 2 there! Unreal!
Snorkels and fins were hastily donned and into the water we went!
The size of these creatures cannot be underestimated! They were monstrous! One was only a smaller one, maybe 6 or 7 m and the other was larger, around 10 or so m!
Poor Noah had one swim right for him almost right after he got in the water and he struggled to swim backward quick enough, so he was out of the water quicker than you can say anchovy!
Libby, (who stuck with me in case the giant mouth swallowed her,) and I also had a moment when the bigger one came to investigate us and we had to swim like mad backwards to get to the dinghy to avoid the giant water sucking in mouth! It made for a pretty funny video! I don’t think I have ever swum backward so fast!
Although they are harmless, they suck in a huge amount of water and you don’t want to get too close to that!
It was a truly mind blowing, incredible, astonishing hour we spent in the water with these 2 gentle giants.
The smaller one was almost like a puppy, swimming up to the surface to feed on the tiny fish scattered by the fishermen and seemed to enjoy being patted and rubbed around his head and mouth. Noah immensely enjoyed being able to do this while he was hiding from the big one in the dinghy!
We dived down and swam next to them, we watched them suck ginormous mouthfuls of water and fish in their mouths, while the excess water rippled out the gills down their bodies.
They were unconcerned with our presence and barely interested in these strange humans that were swimming around them.
These are truly magical creatures. It is something I will never forget, a genuinely once in a lifetime experience.
This is the kind of thing we hoped for when choosing this sailing lifestyle. This is the kind of stuff we wanted to be able to show our children.
We left the bagan buzzing. None of us could believe how lucky we had been with the experience we just had.
It was so exceptional that we repeated it the next day. This time there was only 1 and it was HUGE! Maybe 12m. The scale of these animals is mindboggling.
This one seemed to have worse eyesight. Their eyes are situated down the side of the head, behind their mouth area, so I imagine it would be very hard to see as your head grew bigger and bigger. This one seemed to miss the fish a lot of the time when going to feed and we felt a little more like it might swallow us up, both from its size and also uncoordinated feeding habits!
Still it was another magical morning.
Triton Bay had delivered on all levels and the trek to get down there had been made all worthwhile with the plethora of experiences we had while there.
It is an unspoilt, and exception part of the world.
The marine life is phenomenal, the scenery, with the lush jungle towering above us holding flocks of giant hornbills and noisy cockatoos, along with the powder soft beaches, and striking rocky outcrops blew our minds.
We loved the remoteness and enjoyed being the only boat in the area.
I have a feeling that the 10 days spent here and the sights and experiences had by all are going to be treasured memories.