All About Raja Ampat You Have to Know Before Going There
Picture a tropical archipelago of all steep, jungle-covered islands, glittering white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons, and glowing turquoise waters. Put it into a distant corner of Indonesia mostly unknown to overseas tourists but the most beautiful places in this world, and now you wind up with the Raja Ampat islands: the ultimate tropical paradise. Below is all the information about Raja Ampat that you have to know before flying on holiday.
Why Raja Ampat?
It is a big call, however the selection of 1500-odd islands and islets scattered off the northwestern point of Deadly Papua that include Raja Ampat is genuinely one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful archipelagos. If that isn’t a great enough reason to put Raja Ampat on your must-visit list then think about the diving, and many police on the matter claim it is one of the world’s best. Little-known external hardcore off-the-beaten-track traveling circles until the past couple of years, Raja Ampat’s huge, most pristine coral reef systems and staggering marine diversity are a warrior’s dream. Directed by scientists because of the ‘species mill’, this region nestled in the center of the Coral Triangle is home to more than ten times the amount of hard coral species found in the Caribbean.
The Ideal Time to Go
Raja Ampat is a year-round destination, though many diving outfits cease operations between July and September, when the generally calm seas can become quite demanding. For the clearest waters and greatest visibility for diving, target for a visit between November and March. The Raja Ampat region receives the heaviest makingrain from May to October, which could make jungle falls treacherous.
The closest major airport on the Raja Ampat islands is located in the city of Sorong. There are flights here from the likes of Jakarta, Pulau Ambon (Maluku), Jayapura (Papua), Manado and Makassar (Sulawesi). By Sorong it’s a brief ferry ride to Waisai, on the island of Waigeo, where homestay operators will pick you up. Most top-end dive resorts and liveaboards can pick you up from Sorong. Getting to and from most places to stay at Raja Ampat needs having a speed boat transport (all accommodation options provide this service), which requires a bit of planning; book accommodation and transfers ahead of time. Be aware that prices (for all ) are substantially greater than Java, Bali, Sumatra and other more mainstream Indonesian tourism areas.
The Most Anticipating: Diving, Snorkeling, and Going Around
There are over 200 pristine diving websites in Raja Ampat where just sticking your head below the water means you are going to be amazed by a rainbow of luminous fish and corals. On a single dive you may expect to get up alongside enormous manta rays and giant clams, gape at schools of barracuda, fusiliers and parrotfish, peer at miniature seahorses and multicoloured nudibranchs, and, with luck, place wobbegong along with epaulette (walking) sharks. Snorkelers can observe lotmany these species from over, with numerous reefs easily accessible from the beach.
Raja Ampat is generally better suited to advanced divers, and is not exactly a learn-to-dive hot spot. There are, however, some dip areas acceptable for comparative novices. Most dives are drift dives, that comes with a warning: the branches that whip you across the edge of these reefs can be exceedingly powerful. Evidence of valid insurance and dive cards will be needed at reputable dive operators. Most areas provide all diving gear.
Despite the overall fishy abundance, some of Raja Ampat’s reefs are more intriguing than others. At Manta Sandy, involving Mansuar along with Arborek islands, you’ll discover masses of enormous manta rays, some with wingspans over 5m, waiting over large coral heads to be cleaned by small wrasses. The Sardine Reef, 4km northeast of Pulau Kri, slopes down to 33m. The fish-and-coral mix here has made it popular among underwater photographers. And despite the recent damage to coral brought on by a cruise ship running aground, the waters off Pulau Kri provide some of the most famous dive spots. Schools of barracuda, jackfish, batfish and snapper coexist with little reef fish, rays, turtles, snakes and groupers, and the neighboring coral is out-of-this-world beautiful.
Raja Ampat is not only for divers. The forested islands are home to 2 bird-of-paradise species (the red and the Wilson’s, that may both be seen on Waigeo and Batanta islands), together with a kingdom of lizard and snakes tortoises, opossums and other birdlife. Virtually every dive lodge and homestay can organize pre-dawn tours which will take you to forest hideouts overlooking bird-of-paradise ‘concert arenas’. Most homestays can also schedule visits to nearby villages, pearl farms, and cave systems, in addition, to arrange hiking guides.
Ready to start your getaway to Raja Ampat? Visit Wonderful Indonesia, and don’t miss out on the magic!