Some Indonesian might say it is better to see Whale Sharks in the Philippines than in Indonesia. It is way much cheaper and easier. Well, that’s kind of a sad truth about Nabire. This part of Papua is not well organized for a tourist attraction, even for a diver like me. There’s only one small airport with no Garuda Indonesia flights in here, one good accommodation which looks like a house with a restaurant for me, and probably there’s no dive operator in the city. It’s almost like a small city near the beach. The good thing is that there’s almost NO TOURIST at all. Don’t imagine this is like Bali where you can go to the bars and clubs and also don’t imagine this area is like Raja Ampat with luxurious resorts in front of the beach. This is just a perfect place to see the giants (whale sharks).
Best time to go to Nabire is on June-August. This is because, during this time, the wind comes from Australia while Nabire is located on the north side of Papua. During this time, you will find an almost flattish sea.
How to get to Nabire:
There’s only 1 cheap flight every day from Ambon to Nabire. It is operated by WINGS AIR. You can fly from Jakarta to Ambon with Garuda Indonesia or any good airlines you want, but to go to Nabire, you have to use WINGS AIR. WINGS AIR allows you to take a baggage up to 10kg per person. You need to pay ~25,000 for every kg excess of your baggage.
Well it is very difficult to find a public transportation in Nabire, you need to arrange private car to stroll around the city
Where to Stay in Nabire:
Well, I’m not saying that there’s no hotel in Nabire, it’s just so difficult to find a good one especially if you have a high standard of a hotel room. The best hotel you can find in Nabire is Mahavira. It’s 5 mins from the Airport. The cheapest room is IDR 500.000 or around $20-25 per night. The room has a bathroom inside, a TV cable, and hot shower. They also serve breakfast and evening snacks for free, which are the best part of the hotel.
Mahavira Hotel Contact : +62 852-4418-2805
Diving in Nabire:
My ultimate goal to visit Nabire is to dive and swim along with the giant whale sharks. The whale sharks are always there, People in Cendrawasih Bay feed them with small fishes so they always come if they call them. So don’t worry, you will at least one of them.
To dive in Nabire you should have make an arrangement with a trusted Dive Operator. As I shared, there’s no Dive Operator in Nabire. Thus, I arranged a customized trip to Nabire and Biak with Biak Dive Resort. You can also try other Dive Operators from Biak, it is much safer and reliable than try to find a Dive Operator in Nabire.
Biak Dive Resort (click to see the website)
Cp: Yudith (081330599930)
This is suitable for a warm-up dive before you meet the Giants. The water is warm and calm. There’s no current. You could dive up to 25 m depth with a crystal clear visibility.
Here you will find lots of “BAGANG”. It is a place for local people to catch small fishes. Usually, whale sharks come to eat the fishes. It is very often that whale sharks got trapped into the in the BAGANG because they forget to go out after they eat a lot of small fishes. If this happen, the owner of the Bagang will let them out in the next night.
To find the giants, your guide will bring you to the BAGANG until you find the Giant whale sharks. To swim with the whale sharks, you can just put your snorkel on, you don’t even need a tank, especially if you can do a duck dive and a free diver specialist.
I do not recommend you to go to Nabire by yourself since it is difficult to find the accommodation by yourself. Moreover, to go to Kwatisore (the whaleshark point) it is so far, it’s about 1 ,5 hour by boat and you need to ask permission from “old people” or kind of a “land lord” of the Bagang. If you’re an International Tourist, you have to make a registration in the city which is known to be a bit difficult to do without a help from locals.
- Get your trip fully arranged by a trusted dive operator. My trip was arranged by Biak Dive Resort – all in – excluding the flight from Jakarta to Nabire
- Bring Cash. you will still see ATM for BRI and MANDIRI BANK.
- Expect nothing but HAVE FUN! Bear in mind that this is not like Raja Ampat or Bali or Lombok or what so ever tourist islands.
- Flight JKT – AMBON -NABIRE
- Go to Mahavira Hotel
- Dive 1 Coral Garden
- Dive 2 / Snorkelling Kwatisore to see Whale Sharks
- Early flight to Biak with SUSI Air (see my Biak Diving Trip)