Apart from outstanding eco-tourism hotspots and exceptional fauna and flora, the underwater world of West Papua amplifies its popularity. Being home to the world`s top diving location, the waters of Raja Ampat features the highest marine life diversity recorded on earth. 

The ancient legend has it that there was a woman who found seven eggs. While three of these eggs turned into ghosts, the remaining four eggs became kings ruling the four main islands of Raja Ampat: WAIGEO, SALAWATI, MISOOL and BATANTA.

Raja Ampat Archipelago

Raja Ampat Archipelago


1.Swim with Whale Sharks in the CENDRAWASIH BAY – the largest marine conservation area in Indonesia, also called the “Galapagos of the East”. They might be the biggest creatures of the sea, yet completely harmless. Join a diving cruise and interact with these fascinating ocean beings. Absolutely unique experience!

Swimming with the Whale sharks, Kwatisore

Swimming with the Whale sharks, Kwatisore

2.Cruise across the waters of the outlying MISOOL ISLAND and discover its secluded coves. This is a popular location for yachting and sailing, and if you have your own transport you might well happen to discover bays and beaches never seen before.

Drop anchor at Yapap, snorkel in its shallow waters and enjoy the absolute serenity of this paradise with staggering rock formations coming out of the sea and panorama not to be found anywhere else on Earth.

Sailing at Misool Island

Sailing at Misool Island

3.Kayak and snorkel in the lagoons around the largest island of Raja Ampat – WAIGEO ISLAND, and reveal its pristine beaches. Stroll through the capital of Raja Ampat – Waisai, and arrange a boat tour according to your budget.

Appreciate softness of the sands while walking. Remember to visit the pre-historic Cave of Skulls (Goa Tengkorak) and learn more about the local tribal culture.

Hidden beach, Waigeo Island

Hidden beach, Waigeo Island

4.Trek in the jungles of the largely unexplored, primaeval rainforest on SALAWATI and BATANTA. Come across tropical waterfalls and ancient caves and experience the vibe of one of the least spoilt places in the world. Bird lovers can feast their eyes on the bird carnival of more than 200 hundred species coming to sight on every corner.

Chirping exotic birdlife and other rare species, such as the beautiful Bird of Paradise, Northern Cassowary, Emerald Dove, White-faced Heron, Royal Spoonbill and a wide variety of exotic flowers can be found on both islands.

Bird of Paradise

The Bird of Paradise

5. Dive in at least one of the following sites:

  • PENEMU – medium level, excellent night dive spot, tropical limestone isles, soft and hard corals
  • GAM – steep valleys, coral outcrops, seahorses, sea dragons, nudibranchs
  • BIRD WALL – a reef bottoming out at around 30 m, pinnacles, vertical underwater walls of soft and hard corals
  • WAYAG – a great spot for experienced scuba divers, strong current, picturesque mushroom-shaped isles teeming with wild orchids and unique birds encircled by turquoise lagoons, overhanging coral walls, a wide variety of sharks, large schools of barracuda and tuna
  • KABUI PASSAGE – the one-mile long channel between the islands of Waigeo and Gam, intermediate diving level, spooky views, mangroves, jungle canopy reflected in the water, giant sea turtles, enormous sponges, juvenile fish
  • FABIACET – extremely vibrant diving spot, dazzling schools of surgeonfish, parrotfish, wrasse, turtles, hammerhead sharks, a deep underwater kaleidoscope of pink, orange and purple colours
  • DARAM – volcanic black rock isles, black corals, big schools of batfish, bannerfish, sea snakes, reef sharks, spectacular underwater landscape
  • FARODNI – dream bays, emerald waters, underwater caves, stunning undersea scenery, relatively strong current though
  • KRI – great snorkelling location, medium level, gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, extensive marine life diversity, flat reefs, algal ridges, azure cove lagoons, manta rays, dolphins, reef sharks, various colourful shoals
  • JET FAM – impressive giant cabbage and mushroom corals, pufferfish, lionfish, mackerel, snapper, wobbegongs, big fish action
  • MANTA RIDGE – a popular site for manta rays spotting in large numbers, only a few meters below the sea level there is a great opportunity to watch the big manta underwater action, theatrical performances guaranteed
  • MISOOL ISLAND – ideal for night diving, awe-inspiring sights, coves, underwater holes, mysterious tunnels, radiant reef scene, steep slopes of coral walls teeming with brilliant colours, coral flowers, rainbow gardens, unbelievable scenery.
Fabiacet, Raja Ampat

Fabiacet, Raja Ampat


The coastal city of Sorong is the gateway to Raja Ampat. The town has slowly developing tourism and it is a good place where to plan the trip. There are numerous cruise and diving operators or a public ferry to the Waigeo Island ideal for the independent travellers.

While getting ready for the journey have a walk around exploring Sarong`s lovely art, craft and pearl shops and Batik markets selling traditional Indonesian fabric.

Private eco-villas, typical accommodation in Raja Ampat                                                                               


On the eastern side of the Bird`s Head peninsula, there lies Manokwari, the biggest city of West Papua and it is home to a large  Christian community. Dutch heritage from the colonial era will come to sight right at arrival: churches and Dutch colonial architecture.

The nearby Mansiman Island offers relaxed beaches and Makabori Lake is ideal for the fishing. Manokwari has great surfing beaches (Maruni & Amban) as well as snorkelling sites, but more importantly, it is the gateway to the Cendrawasih Marine Park.

Trobriand Islands

West Papua, simple but comfortable bamboo huts in Cendrawasih are reasonably priced


The main highlights are swimming with the Whale sharks at Kwatisore/Bagan Point, exploring Japanese sunken shipwrecks from the World War II, out of which Shinwa Maru near Manokwari is the most important one and diving in the world`s top sites which provide breathtaking underwater scenery around Biak & Yapen Islands.

Sunken shipwreck near Manokwari                                                                        


Pulau Biak is the ultimate beach destination. Parai, Yendidori, Adoki beach and Wardo Beaches are worth of visiting (good swimming, snorkelling and diving).

If you like sightseeing the World War II Monument and Museum with a small cave that used to serve as a hiding place for the Japanese soldiers.

Nature lovers might want to see the bird park with a good collection of native birds, e.g. the Bird of Paradise, Kasuari and Mambruk.

Pulau Biak                                                                                                                          


Fak Fak is the city of Nutmeg, is a place of a long tradition. Due to the good relationships with the ancient Sultanate of Ternate, most of the residents are Muslims.

Its greatly remote location (south-east of Raja Ampat) makes it be even more attractive for the native fauna and flora and sea life. The fact that most of the area is still to be discovered works like a magnet for adventurous nature and ocean lovers and off the beaten track travellers, of course.

Patawana Beach is known amongst surfers,  albeit tourism infrastructure here is fairly undeveloped.

Kri, Raja Ampat

Kri, Raja Ampat


Waigeo Island (Waisai) is the only one that can be reached by local ferry from Sorong. All the other islands need to be accessed either by the visitor`s own vessel, organised tour or a private speedboat arranged in Sorong.

You must hold a valid visa to be able to enter West Papua. The cost and conditions depend on your nationality, so be advised to check the details in advance. Besides, you will need to purchase a Marine Park Entry Tag ($100 USD per person).

You should always carry enough cash with you if travelling independently as ATMs in West Papua are quite limited. Sorong will be pretty much your only option. Remember to test your credit card prior arrival at any other ATM in Indonesia as the Western cards often don`t work in Indonesian ATMs.  Try to withdraw as much cash as possible at the airport in Sorong (the single withdrawal limit is IDR 2.500,00 but you can do multiple withdrawals).

It is always advisable to inquire about the safety situation in West Papua or in any location you intend to visit before travelling due to the presence of violence and tribal conflicts.

Malaria pills and vaccination against the Yellow Fever is strongly recommended and some countries such as even request all visitors get immunised prior the entry to.

Misool Eco-Resort, Raja Ampat (the resort offers all-inclusive vacation and various dive packages but it is quite pricey)


Raja Ampat is not a cheap destination. Quite on contrary; luxurious eco-resorts typically offer all inclusive holiday and diving packages that can be booked in advance for the traveller`s comfort. They are built far from the local amenities and you will be totally dependent on their service (that is 5x more expensive). However, with good planning it is possible to reduce the travel cost to the minimum:

  • stay at homesteads instead of resorts – Waisai has the cheapest accommodation
  • use group tours (snorkelling, diving, trekking) – booked at local agencies in Waisai
  • move around by public boats (slow boats are much cheaper)

Don`t skip a snorkelling around the Waigeo Island


Since Raja Ampat is almost exclusively destination for scuba divers it is essential that the underwater visibility is good. Therefore, the best time to travel is during the dry season, between May and September.


Fly to Jakarta/Java or Denpasar/Bali first.

Then catch a domestic flight to Sorong or Manokwari, using one of the local airlines. There are 3 main domestic airlines operating within Indonesia – Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia and Sriwijaya Air.

There are frequent local Pelni ships departing from Jakarta to Sorong  (5-day odyssey). This means of transport is mainly used by the locals, it is cheap but very basic (suitable for budget travellers and adventurers).

For all international flights check out www.skyscanner.com or www.momondo.com

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Eva Bodova

Sunday 15 July 2018

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