In a remote corner of Indonesia where few tourists travel you’ll find the mystical Raja Ampat islands. Peaks of limestone covered in dense jungle seem to burst out of the sea, rimmed with beaches of white sand. Underwater the islands are known for their supreme marine life – it’s considered one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the world and has received acclaim as the best destination to dive in the world.
If you haven’t heard of these groups of islands and find yourself skeptical, trust us when we say that they are like nothing else on this planet. If you’re an avid snorkeler or diver, this will be one of the most rewarding and enthralling trips of your life. That being said, if you’re looking for restaurants, bars or any semblance of civilized life this one is not for you.
EXPLORE RAJA AMPAT
Arrive into Sorong, West Papua, a city surrounded by mountains, hills, lowlands and protected forests that sits at the northwestern tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula and set sail for Misool, the southernmost of Raja Ampat’s four main islands. Few visitors include Misool in their Raja Ampat itinerary, but it offers scenery that rivals, perhaps beats, that of more famous Wajag.
While you’re on Misool, make time to explore the flooded timolol cave, which can be accessed by dinghy. It is Misool’s most visited cave and is a sacred site for the local people. On the island you can also find caves with interesting hand print rock art as well as cliff-side burial grounds. Wake up to the green-tipped karst limestone landscape the area is known for and get ready for a snorkel or a dive. The surrounding waters offer some of the world’s truly richest reefs. For an outstanding experience get permission to snorkel and dive in the Marine Protected Area of the Misool Eco Resort. With a no fishing policy regulation in the area the abundance of marine life is astounding. On the west tip of Misool, a group of low lying, mangrove islands enjoy spectacular visibility on a rising tide. This site presents unique diving and snorkeling conditions as the soft corals grow right on the mangrove root structures. A speedboat is essential as saltwater crocodiles have been seen in the area.
Set sail for Kofiau, definitely the least visited major island in the region. Nothing demonstrates its isolation more than the fact that several new species of birds were discovered on the island just in the last decade or so. Still inhabited by its native population, a visit to the stilt village called Kampung Deer in the northern bay is a must.