I Left My Heart in Raja Ampat

The amazing underwater landscape and the beautiful views above the sea will make you fall in love with Raja Ampat Islands, a true paradise on earth.

Raja Ampat archipelago is close to Sorong, a coastal city in West Papua. The Raja Ampat islands are located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula. It is also located inside the so-called Coral Triangle and truly is a centre of marine biodiversity, overflowing with coral, fish and marine mammal species.

Raja Ampat, which means Four Kings in Indonesian, is comprised of four main islands –Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. The region’s flora and fauna have much more in common with Australian rather than Asian species. You will find marsupials here, but no monkeys or apes. A joint survey by Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy suggests that marine life in this region is the most diverse on earth. There are more than 1,400 species of reef fish here, as well as 96 percent of the world’s reef-building hard corals. Scientists estimate that in a sample area the size of two football fields, there are more than six times as many species of coral as in the entire Caribbean Sea.

If you are travelling to Raja Ampat there are three ways to get to Sorong by air. You can take a four-hour flight from Jakarta via, or a six-hour flight from Jakarta via Manado. Or you can take a direct flight from Jakarta, which takes three to four hours. From Sorong I continued my trip by ferry to Waisai, the capital of Raja Ampat, which is located on Waigeo Island.

We finally arrived at Raja Ampat. We stayed Waiwo Dive Raja Ampat, the resort is lush and green, and the air clean and fresh. We checked in, dumped our luggage in the room and headed back to the jetty. Some of the resort guests were out in the water, snorkelling and swimming. I couldn’t wait to get into the water.

Next day we headed to Wayag, one of the most beautiful and best-known islands in Raja Ampat. We woke early and left for Wayag at about seven in the morning, making the three-hour trip by speedboat. It is a stunning journey to Wayag, taking in all the beauty of Raja Ampat. We stopped in Kabui Bay, a great place to dive or snorkel, and passed the hidden Mayalibit Bay and Kawe Island. There were flying fish and dolphins that accompanied us on our trip.

Wayag is a collection of jungle-covered islets rising up out of the water, fringed by powdery soft white sand beaches. We headed to Coral Island and made the 30-minute climb to its peak. And when I arrived at the top, I was stunned speechless by the gorgeous views. I had never been anywhere as beautiful as this. We stopped at an uninhabited island for lunch and took advantage of the opportunity for some swimming and snorkelling. On the way back to the resort, I saw the perfect sunset from the speedboat.

Diving is a must at Raja Ampat, but because I don’t have a lot of experience I stayed close to the resort rather than heading off for one of Raja Ampat’s more famous dive spots. It was still stunning. I saw a group of butterfly fish and some adorable Moorish Idols. There were starfish, clownfish and the funny pufferfish.

For some of the more famous dive spots, you can head to the Boo Islands, Fabiacet, Farondi Island, Kaleidoscope, Gamfi Damu Island, The Passage, Kri Island, Pinnacle, Wofoh Island, Sel Pele Bay, Waigeo Island, Yangelo Island, Jef Fam, Manta Ridge, Mios Kon, Melissa’s Garden, Mike’s Point, Sardines Reef and many more.

Text by Grace Solarbesain | Photos courtesy of Waiwo Dive Raja Ampat and Grace Solarbesain

Related articles:
1. East Nusa Tenggara
2. Nihiwatu
3. Plataran Komodo Beach Resort
4. Aqua Mekong