Raja Ampat, the Ultimate Underwater Heaven

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.

Wayang of Raja Ampat . (c) Shutterstock
Wayang of Raja Ampat . (c) Shutterstock

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

A healthy and diverse assortment of invertebrates grow on a wall in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This region is known for its spectacular scuba diving and high marine biodiversity. (c) Shutterstock
A healthy and diverse assortment of invertebrates grow on a wall in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This region is known for its spectacular scuba diving and high marine biodiversity. (c) Shutterstock

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

A gorgonian grows in extremely shallow water near the island of Misool in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This area is known for its spectacular marine biodiversity and great scuba diving. (c) Shutterstock
A gorgonian grows in extremely shallow water near the island of Misool in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. This area is known for its spectacular marine biodiversity and great scuba diving. (c) Shutterstock

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

Small coral island near Raja Ampat . West Papua, Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock

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

Wayag Island in Raja Ampat Regency. (c) Shutterstock
Wayag Island in Raja Ampat Regency. (c) Shutterstock

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

Cendrawasih Papua. (c) Shutterstock
Cendrawasih Papua. (c) Shutterstock

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

Colorful Fusilier fish schooling and congregating around the Wing of a american fighter plane from worldwar 2 that is overgrown with abundant soft corals in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock
Colorful Fusilier fish schooling and congregating around the Wing of a american fighter plane from worldwar 2 that is overgrown with abundant soft corals in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock

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.

Tags
Cendrawasih Diving Spot Indonesia papua barat pasir timbul Pulau Wayag raja ampat
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