The Indonesian archipelago consistently draws visitors looking for inspiration in its thriving, captivating world down below.
Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy Republic of Indonesia
Geographically-blessed Indonesia is a prominent beach holiday destination, with silvery waves that kiss the endless sandy beaches of its shores. Bali might be famous for being the “island of the Gods”, but Raja Ampat offers a whole other kind of heaven down under.
The “Four Kings”, a direct translation of Raja Ampat, is an underwater paradise located in the West Papua Province. It is found in the Bird’s Head region of Papua Island in the far eastern reaches of the Indonesian archipelago. Raja Ampat is known as one of the ten best diving sites around the world, recognized as number one for its underwater flora and fauna.
Like a vast, living library, Raja Ampat is home to at least 540 species of coral, 1,511 species of fish and 700 types of mollusks. According to The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, 75 percent of the world’s marine species are found in the Raja Ampat Islands.
Among the archipelago’s four main islands, Waigeo is the largest. Hosting a range of attractions, it is also the easiest island to reach by public transport, though exploring its full diversity remains challenging. Waigeo offers diving, rock islands, scenic bays walled in by towering cliffs, bird watching in its lush jungles, and affordable accommodation options throughout Raja Ampat. All in all, it’s the perfect place to start your exploration of the Raja Ampat cluster.
Dipping beneath the surface of the inviting crystal clear water is akin to a magical experience. In a single instant, you are admitted into another world, the vast and florid universe of the reef that goes about its own flamboyant affairs oblivious to the world above. Here in Raja Ampat, the flora and fauna that populate this infinitely complex marine civilization come in an abundance of brazenly colorful and bizarre shapes and sizes.
There are several fascinating natural phenomena that happen only once a year. In the eastern part Waigeo Island, in the village of Urbinasopen and Yesner to be exact, a light emerges from the sea and around the surface for about 10-18 minutes. Locals refer to this phenomenon as “the ghost of the sea”.
Another otherworldly experience can be found in the village of Saondarek. During low tides, you can see the colorful coral reefs without diving into the sea, as they appear above sea level. They are still very much alive, despite being in the open air and under direct sunlight.
Besides diving, you can also do a variety of activities such as sailing, bird watching, watching the sunrise, exploring caves, cultural tours with the Asmat tribe, fishing and shopping.
Visiting Raja Ampat does take time and effort, but there are lots of resorts offering hassle-free arrangements, including dive trips and travel arrangements to and from Sorong Airport.
If you want to stay close to Waigeo Island, the Sorido Bay Resort is located just a 30-minute boat ride away at the Kri Island. This luxury resort of just seven water cottages offers personalized service and the Cape Kri boasts the best house reef and rich dive sites with amazing macro life. It’s a resort equipped with modern conveniences but a devotion to environmental responsibility to ensure that your natural escape is nothing short of idyllic. The local wildlife includes the tropical birds that break into morning song to wake you up for the day’s adventures and the first dive.
Those looking for a more remote location will favor the Misool Eco Resort, an exclusive dive resort and conservation centre located in southern Raja Ampat. With a maximum capacity of just 32 guests, it’s an exclusive diving holiday surrounded by the world’s richest reefs with their very own Marine Protected Area inside Raja Ampat Shark and Manta Sanctuary. The house reef is particularly recommended for snorkelers, with frequent sightings of schooling horse-eyed jacks, gentle green turtles, hunting octopus and huge schools of beak-head parrotfish. There is also a good chance of spotting the newly discovered ‘walking’ epaulette shark.
There are many airlines serving flights to Sorong Airport from Jakarta and Bali, including Garuda Indonesia.
Where to Stay:
Sorido Bay Resort
Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Misool Eco Resort
Batbitim, Raja Ampat, Indonesia