There’s a place in Indonesia that is not known to many. An area of many small islands and shoals teeming with precious natural beauty that might just be called the most beautiful group of islands and most exotic destinations in the world.
Raja Ampat is the name of an archipelago of about 1,500 islands located off the northern tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula found in New Guinea, which is Indonesia’s West Papua Province. The eastern side of the island belongs to the nation of Papua New Guinea. The name Raja Ampat means “Four Kings” in Indonesian and refers to the four major islands, named as Waigeo, Misool, Batanta, and Salawati.
Why Visit Raja Ampat?
If you want to find the most secluded, isolated, and most pristine group of islands in the world, then Raja Ampat is the place for you. It is quite hard to reach, and far from most of the bustling tourist sites of Indonesia. In fact, it takes several hours up to an entire day to reach the islands starting foot on Indonesian soil. So, how much more if you’re coming from another country?
Despite its isolated location, many tourists, from solo travelers to honeymooners, to families; find their way in some of the island’s beautiful lodges and resorts. Either enjoying a relaxing and serene vacation or exploring the wonderfully rich marine life, Raja Ampat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Best Time to Visit
If you’re planning on visiting the islands, the best time to visit Raja Ampat is September till May.
Diving and Snorkeling
Raja Ampat belongs to the Coral Triangle, which stretches to the Philippines, Timor, and Papua New Guinea. The Triangle is known to be the world’s most biodiverse marine habitat. Raja Ampat itself is home to at least 75% of all coral species in the world found in the area, and over 1,300 species of fish live in its waters.
As such, Raja Ampat is dubbed to be a diver’s mecca – attracting hoards of scuba divers and underwater photographers alike, who marvel at the rich biodiversity of marine life unlike any other site on earth.
As a safety precaution, it is highly recommended that individuals who wish to go diving in the waters are PADI diving certified. The strong currents make it very impractical and dangerous for beginner divers to explore.
Other Activities You Can Do
Raja Ampat isn’t just for divers but absolutely for anyone who wishes to enjoy seclusion with the most private beaches anywhere on earth. The number of tourists around the islands is quite a few, and the distance between the islands are vast, which means it takes time to actually jump from one spot to another.
Sunbathing and swimming in the crystal blue waters of the beach all to yourself are the stuff of honeymoon dreams, and it can be enjoyed at any of Raja Ampat’s beaches.
The island of Tomolol is an interesting place to visit, as within its caves are ancient paintings of massive human palms and animals. On the northern part of the Waigeo Island, World War II bunkers made by the Japanese army, as well as the Dutch army, can be explored.
Visiting local villages is just another exotic activities you can do in this remote destination.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of lodges, resorts, and homestays that can be found on the islands. Advanced booking is highly recommended due to the isolation of the archipelago.
Among the best places to stay at the Raja Ampat are:
Misool Eco Resort – It features 15 overwater villas and cottages, and home to a marine protected area. A truly tropical hideaway, bungalows are built on stilts situated right on the waters, and powder-white beaches are at your disposal only a few meters away from your accommodation.
Papua Paradise – It features 16 overwater villas and 2 house reefs. It is located on the uninhabited island of Birie and known for the exotic bird life, the lush jungle, and world-class diving that’s on offer at the resort.
Raja Ampat Dive Lodge – Located on Mansuar Island, this family-friendly lodge features rooms and bungalows with air conditioning and ensuite facilities.
If you would like a different experience from those typical accommodations, cruise Raja Ampat privately for few days aboard a luxury sailing yacht charter such as the luxurious Lamima Superyacht.
How to Get Here
From Jakarta, you can catch a flight to the city of Sorong, which is located in Indonesia’s West Papua province. From there, you can catch any of the twice-daily ferry rides to Waisai on the island of Waigeo, or you can also opt to rent a private speedboat.
If you’ve already made your hotel or resort reservations, you may avail of their services and have their boats pick you up from Sorong.
The Raja Ampat islands are a beautiful set of islands that have retained their natural beauty and abundant marine life, due to the efforts of Indonesia, the communities, and of course, partly due to its isolation.
The beaches are beautiful and pure, tourists are rare, and the diving is absolutely out of this world. Now’s the time to visit Raja Ampat and enjoy what mother nature has to offer.