Raja Ampat is no longer a secret heaven, it’s a world famous paradise now. It is so perfect that any diver in the world would surely put this place in their bucket list to visit. Raja Ampat is the name of archipelago regency in the northwest of Papua Island. There are more than 1500 islands in this regency, and the four main islands are Waigeo, Misool, Salawati, and Batanta.
Raja Ampat means four kings, derived from a local legend. There was a woman who found seven eggs, four hatched kings who then ruled the main islands. The other three became a woman, a ghost, and a stone.
To summarize it simply, Raja Ampat is the ultimate destination. Within its 9.8 million acres territory, Raja Ampat is the home of 1000 species of coral fish, 700 types of mollusk, and 540 types of coral. It is estimated that 75% of world species live here. The extremely pristine and diverse marine life have put this region on the map of world’s best tourist destinations.
Unreal diving spots
Most Raja Ampat visitor come for the ultimate diving experience. This place delivers, and give them even more. There are so many diving spots at the region, all with their own unique features. Diving spots in Misool Island is generally an explosion of colors, with mesmerizing corals and smaller critters.
In Waigeo, the diving spots offer more fish species, including angelfish, lionfish, and clownfish between anemones. If you dive in Mansuar, you’ll most likely will be greeted by mantas and turtles. For even bigger fish, you can dive at Cendrawasih Bay, where you can meet the gentle giants; whale sharks.
Snorkeling among the small islands
One of the most distinctive traits of Raja Ampat is its small cone shaped karst islands. Scattered among shallow waters, these islands creates a spectacularly picturesque panorama. With crystal clear waters, this is an ideal place for tourist to snorkel and admire the beauty underwater.
With high visibility, you can see how shallow waters are bustling with unrivaled marine life. Anywhere with shallow water is ideal for snorkeling in Raja Ampat, but Wayag Island and Pianemo really take the cake for their vistas.
An Emerging and Vanishing Beach
Pasir Timbul, literally means emerging sands, is the name of the shoal in the north of Mansuar Island. There is a spectacular daily miracle happening here, as some white sand bars emerges from the ocean at the low tide and submerges during high tide.
These sand bars are as wonderful as it can be, just like beaches in the middle of the ocean. The only drawback is that you can’t easily reach this spot. On the other hand, that also make this shoal empty most days so that you can enjoy it at its fullest.
Vantage points of the archipelago
Presented with beautiful scenes, sometimes you just feel the need to have a better view to enjoy things more completely. That is where this vantage points in Raja Ampat comes in handy. When you come to Pianemo by boat, you might wonder what these small islands look like from above.
Spoiler alert; it’s majestic! You can see just that by hiking a bit to see the overall panorama of the islands. Wayag Island also have similar vantage points, as well as Harfat Jaya Peak at Misool Island.
Wonderful people, wonderful landscape
Raja Ampat is not just about marine life. The landscape and people who live on these islands are awesome too. There are lots of villages with friendly people such as Arborek and Sawinggrai village. Nature’s gift to these islands does not stop at sea, as the forest here are home to many wonderful animals like Waigeo Cuscus and Bird of Paradise (Cendrawasih). You can even get a bird watching experience.
How to Get There and What to do in Raja Ampat
Marinda Airport in Waisai is the only airstrip in the regency, it only served by small plane flights from Sorong’s Domine Aduard Osok Airport. Sorong is connected to Jakarta, Makassar, and Singapore. Alternatively, you can also hop on a ferry from Sorong to Waisai.
Getting around Raja Ampat is rather problematic because of the nature of the regency. You’ll need to charter a boat or taking a package tour to go from one island to another. The most convenient way to enjoy Raja Ampat is by hopping on a liveaboard ship.