It’s every diver’s dream vacation spot: Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia. The archipelago, also called the 4 Kings, consists of 1,500 small islands, shoals and cays and has the richest marine biodiversity on earth, period.
The world is house to 75% of the world’s recognized coral species and hosts a wide range of massive pelagic fish in addition to manta rays, dolphins, migrating whales and a number of other shark species.
*Quite watch than learn? Skip to the video.
Raja Ampat is type of in the middle of no-where. It’s situated off the northwest tip of Fowl’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province. Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals. The 4 foremost islands are Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo, where a lot of the diving is at.
- 1 Diving in Raja Ampat
- 2 Other issues to do in Raja Ampat
- 3 The best way to get to Raja Ampat
- 4 The place to remain in Raja Ampat
- 5 Money
- 6 Communication
- 7 Well being & Safety
- 8 Do you have to go? And when?
Diving in Raja Ampat
Lets begin with the enjoyable stuff: the diving. Raja Ampat is considered one of world’s prime places for diving. I did six dives throughout my keep and each single one made it to my prime10 dives record. For reference, I had about 50 dives underneath my belt and I had dived in Thailand (including the Similan Islands), the Philippines, Miami, Cabo San Lucas, Costa Rica and Cabo San Lucas.
The primary underwater attraction in Raja Ampat is the Manta Ray. All three kinds of Manta Rays could be found here, the Oceanic Manta, the Black Manta and the Reef Manta, and I used to be fortunte to see all of them.
Other highlights of my dives embrace one of the strangest wanting sharks, the Wobbegong shark, the very rare Walking shark, plenty of Blacktip and Whitetip reef sharks, big Groupers, faculties of Barracudas and smaller creatures like the Pygmee Seahorse and the Orangutan crab.
Watch this compilation video:
(Skip to: Diving: 0.35, 1:12, 2:20, Manta Rays: 1:12, 2:35, Reef Sharks: 0.41, 2:53, Wobbegong Shark: 0.50)
Trivia question: What’s sort of animal is that walking in the tree at zero:08? Comment under if you recognize the answer!
Dive websites in Raja Ampat
There are a ton of dive websites in Raja Ampat, and more are being found regurarly. A lot of the dive sites are situated across the islands of Kri and Mansur, in the central Raja Ampat area. See under for a map with all of the dives websites listed.
You’ll be able to anticipate all dive sites to be of above average high quality, however under are a number of must-dives that you need to’t miss. The photographs in my dive video have been all taking at these spots.
This dive website is among the few that exist in the world the place you’re virtually guaranteed to see Mantas. It’s a fairly shallow dive, the cleaning station is at about 12m. Wonderful for novices. You’ll find different sort of sealife at this location too, however truthfully when there are 5 Mantas circling round you, you’re not going to pay too much consideration to them.
The locals have arrange a perimeter of rocks across the cleaning station to maintain divers from getting too near the Mantas. The Mantas don’t seem to mind the corporate although, as they swam right over us several occasions.
This dive website has the world document for many several types of species of fish noticed on one single dive. Dr Gerry Allen recorded a total number of 374 fish species on a single tank dive! There are so many fish, you just don’t know the place to look. Barracudas, Jackfish, Groupers, big faculties of Massive-eye Trevallies, Snappers, Banded Sweetlips as well as reef shark could be seen right here in abundance.
Sardine Reef was our dive teacher’s favourite dive website, principally due to the beautiful corals. Highlights of the dive for me the place the 2 Black-tip Reef Sharks, an enormous Grouper, a number of Blue-Noticed Stingrays and the Woebegone shark in the image above. In the direction of the top of the dive, the present obtained stronger and took us to a shallow reef, about 5-10m deep. Pretty enjoyable to let the current take you over the reef superman type.
Blue magic is called “little Barracuda point.” It hosts a big faculty of Barracudas, Jackfish and Sweetlips as well as Black and Whitetip Reef sharks. Last however not least, Oceanic Manta Rays are sometimes seen passing by here as properly. I saw one on my dive, the one at 2:35 in the video. This dive is usually a bit difficult relying on how robust the current is.
Choose your dive operator rigorously
A phrase of caution right here. Loads of the resorts and home-stays supply diving providers. Not all of them are licensed and operated professionally though and I’ve heard locals expressing their considerations concerning the security of some operators. I recommend you examine that the operator and the instructors are licensed earlier than you ebook any dives. If the dive shop is with PADI, you possibly can either verify on the web site or call them. Hold in thoughts that Raja Ampat could be a challenging place to dive, with currents at most of the dive spots.
I personally dove with Manta Dive Raja Ampat and had an awesome experience. The shop is situated at Waiwo Dive Resort (the place I stayed) and run by a man named Rinto.
Earlier than I went diving I seemed up his PADI instructor quantity, as I had learn some dangerous critiques on Tripadvisor, however the whole lot was nice. He had just lately taken over the management of the dive shop after the previous manager screwed up a number of occasions. Rinto was truly probably the greatest instructors I’ve ever dived with so I felt a bit dangerous about my initial suspicion, but higher protected than sorry.
Diving in Raja Ampat ain’t low cost…
Diving in Raja Ampat is just not low cost. One dive will sometimes set you back a minimal of round 650,000 Rupiah (US$45) per dive and gear rental around 350,000 (US$25) per day. The more dives you do on someday, the cheaper it will get as you solely need to pay for the gear as soon as. If the dive website is over an hour away by boat, there may be a gasoline surcharge.
One other strategy to dive in Raja Ampat is to go on a live-aboard. There are lots of live-aboards in Raja Ampat, but they aren’t low cost. Typical rates differ between $300 – $400 USD per day. That does embrace meals, non-alcoholic drinks and up to five dives a day, including gear. See right here for extra info on live-aboards in Raja Ampat.
Other issues to do in Raja Ampat
Aside from diving, there’s not an entire lot of other things to do in Raja Ampat. If I wasn’t a diver, I in all probability wouldn’t undergo the effort of getting there and spend the cash for a visit truthfully. There are two things value doing though, a trip to Painemu and snorkeling.
Journey to Painemu
When you’ve ever Google-Imaged “Raja Ampat,” you then’ll recognize the picture under. It exhibits the long-lasting limestone islands that Raja Ampat is understood for. They’re situated across the island of Fam, or Groot Fam. There is a look-out the place you possibly can enjoy the view and take some selfies.
Regionally this place is called Painemu, and it’s situated on the western end of Raja Ampat, about 2.5 hours by boat from Wasai. To go there you’ll have to lease a boat for the day, which can set you back around 5 to 7 million Rupiah. Quite expensive, until you’re with an enormous group. I most popular to spend my cash on diving, so I handed.
The Raja Ampat islands supply great alternatives for snorkeling. A lot of the resorts have house reefs right in entrance of the seashore, and so did Waiwo Dive Resort. Not a nasty concept to deliver your personal snorkel and masks, as the resorts might cost you 150,000okay for using their gear. My dive store let me use it at no cost although, as I spent a fair sum of money on diving with them.
The village of Wasai could be very small. It hosts a number of motels, a pair restaurants, a small grocery store and some smaller outlets. Probably the most fascinating nevertheless is the meals market, close to the pier. You will get some recent greens, fruits and fish there.
TIP: in the event you get uninterested in the meals that’s served in your resort, you should purchase no matter you wish to eat on the market and ask the chef to prepare dinner it for you. I’ve seen individuals having lobster for dinner, not dangerous!
The best way to get to Raja Ampat
Alright if this submit has satisfied you to visit Raja Ampat, right here’s the knowledge you must plan your visit. I discovered it arduous to seek out good info once I visited, so I feel this shall be very helpful.
The Raja Ampat islands are situated off the north-western coast of West-Papua. The closest main airport is in Sorong. From there, it’s a must to take ferry to Wasai, on the island of Waigeo.
Getting to Sorong
To succeed in the islands in Raja Ampat, you must fly to Sorong first. Every day flights from Jakarta and Makassar can be found. Before you guide your flight, plan your transportation from Sorong to your vacation spot first. Verify the ferry schedule so you’ll be able to coordinate that you simply gained’t have to attend too lengthy in Sorong.
Not all airways that service Sorong are listed on the key flight search engines like google and yahoo like Kayak and Skyscanner, I booked my flight via Tiket.com.
All flights to Sorong from Jakarta are red-eye flights, leaving between 10pm and 1am and arriving early in the morning between 6am and 8am. It’s a 4 hour flight and Sorong is two hours forward of Jakarta, so a direct flight leaving at midnight gets you in at 6am. Most flights have a visit Makassar airport although.
Getting to Waigeo
The ferry to Wasai on Waigeo leaves day by day at 2pm and in addition on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9am. Most flights arrive in the morning round 7/8am, simply on time to catch the 9am ferry. In the event you arrive on Tuesday or Thursday, you’ll have to wait until 2pm. You’ll be able to board the ferry a lot earlier although, they depart the AC on so a minimum of you’ll be cool and the empty seats permit you to lie down and make amends for sleep in case you weren’t capable of sleep on the aircraft.
The ferry to Waigeo takes about 1.5 to three hours, relying on the type of boat. Tickets are 110,000 (US$eight) for normal seats and 220,000 (US$16) for VIP seats. I feel the VIP seats are value the additional eight bucks.
TIP: In case your flight is delayed and also you gained’t make it for the 9am ferry, call them and let them know you’ll be late. It’s not unusual for the ferry to attend for passengers.
Flying to Waigeo
Waigeo is the only island in Raja Ampat that may be reached by airplane. There’s a flight operated by Susi Air. You’ll be able to’t ebook a ticket, it’s first come first serve. Tickets are 300,000 Rupiah (US$22) per passenger and luggage allowance is 10kg per individual. Excess luggage fees are 20,000 (US$1.5) per kg.
The flight goes virtually day-after-day, but you’ll be able to’t know for positive when and even the occasions differ. I needed to take it to fly back to Sorong but then they cancelled the flight as a result of there were elections happening or something. You need to name the airport at +6285354426927 or +6285344802921 to double verify. You can too contact Susi Air at +62265639851.
The place to remain in Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is a really undeveloped area with little infrastructure. Resorts sometimes consists of some picket buildings hidden in the dense jungle vegetation that stretches all the best way to the seashore. Anticipate no WiFi, restricted electrical energy and no swimming swimming pools or eating places.
The resorts in Raja Ampat are unfold out over all of the totally different islands and pretty much all of them are situated on the seashore. Meals is usually included in the worth and consists mainly of hen, rice and fish.
I opted to stay at Waiwo Dive Resort on Waigeo island, just because it was the one mid-range choice obtainable. It’s one of many few places which have air con, electricity and a personal rest room.
The resort can also be very close to the ferry pier and Wasai village, the only place where you will get any provides. At around $100 / night time together with breakfast, lunch and dinner and a personal seashore right in entrance of my room, it’s undoubtedly the perfect worth for money I’ve seen. In addition to, they’ve a very cool canine named Waiwo.
I used to be a bit involved as the resort has combined evaluations on Tripadvisor, however fortuitously I had an ideal experience. You possibly can guide on-line here.
Another advantage of staying at Waiwo is that it’s situated near the only telecommunications tower in Raja Ampat that transmits a 3G signal. Since there isn’t a WiFi anyplace, getting an area sim card with Telkomsel is the one choice to use the internet. As you possibly can think about, that 3G gained’t be very fast until you’re in the neighborhood of the
Different lodging choices
The one different options you can guide online are either very expensive or “homestays,” finances sort accommodation with very little comfort.
In case you have upwards of $200 a night to spend, go for the Doberai Eco Resort or the Agusta Eco Resort.
When you’re on a price range and need to spend US$50 a night or less, take a look at one of the many homestays in Raja Ampat.
You need to convey loads of cash for those who visit Raja Ampat, as bank cards aren’t accepted anyplace. Aside from Sorong, the one place where you will get cash is Waisai. There are two ATMs that accept overseas cards, Miniri financial institution and Beheri bank. Until you’re staying on Waigeo island, you’ll should get a boat to get there.
Credit cards aren’t accepted anyplace, you need to pay with money for the whole lot. Plan accordingly and convey sufficient cash to pay for all of your bills, including lodge, marine park charge, transportation, diving and different actions.
Marine Park Charge
All visitors are obliged to pay a payment for staying in the Raja Ampat space. The charge is 500,000 for locals and 1,000,000 for foreigners.(USD 35/70). The payment is payable at an area office right subsequent to the ferry pier. There might be a guy sporting a Hawaiian sort shirt ready on the pier to direct the visitors to the local office to pay the charge.
I attempted to escape him, however he stored following me around so I made a decision to be a great boy and pay the charge. Nevertheless, I’m fairly positive lots of visitors managed to keep away from him.
Insider tip: One other strategy to avoid the payment is to take the aircraft, as there’s no-one on the airport to gather the charge. This makes the aircraft much cheaper than the boat and just about a no brainer.
You gained’t find Wifi anyplace in Raja Ampat, it simply doesn’t exist. The 3G protection is pretty good the place I stayed. The reason being that right in front of the resort is a small island (Sonik) that has a telecommunications tower.
Get an area simcard from Telkomsel (you should purchase these in Wasai too) and for about 100,000 (US$eight) you’ll get 3GB of knowledge. It was fast sufficient to make Whatsapp calls with my pals in the US. Nevertheless, as you get additional away from the tower, the connection rapidly deteriorates.
Well being & Safety
Raja Ampat could be very protected, however medical amenities are restricted. In case you go diving, know that there is a decompression chamber in Wasai, but several sources on the web state that’s not in working situation. Greatest to be protected and keep properly within your decompression limits once you go diving.
As with all tropical destination, consult your physician to see when you’ve got all of the beneficial vaccinations. There’s conflicting info on the internet concerning the existence of Malaria in the world. The locals informed me they’ve by no means heard of Malaria instances and most travelers I’ve spoke to didn’t take drugs.
Some did although, as really helpful by their docs back house. I didn’t take them, however I did make an effort to keep mosquito bites to a minimal by sporting lengthy pants and shirts and utilizing mosquito repellent. I spent more often than not underwater or on a ship anyway, which is a reasonably good method to forestall mosquito bites.
Do you have to go? And when?
In case you’re a scuba diver, you must go. As quickly as potential. Proper now Raja Ampat is a heaven for divers, however the phrase is spreading fast. I’ve heard rumors of the tiny little airport in Waigeo being expanded, permitting greater airplanes to land there.
As soon as the plenty start flocking to Raja Ampat, I’m unsure how long those Manta Rays will stay. I have a sense they could just determine to maneuver a number of islands additional down the ocean. In addition, tourism has a destructive effect on the health of the coral reefs.
I’ve already made up my mind. I’m going back soon! If you wish to see the Manta Rays, one of the best time to go is November to March. Throughout the remainder of the yr the Mantas migrate elsewhere.