Raja Ampat Islands / West Papua / Indonesia
Raja Ampat Islands maps
Information about Raja Ampat Islands
The controversially hived-off province of West Papua chiefly comprises two large peninsulas – the Vogelkop (Bird’s Head/Kepala Burung/Semdoberai) and the more southerly Bomberai Peninsula – and several hundred offshore islands. The attractions here are primarily natural, especially the worldclass diving and gorgeous island scenery of the Raja Ampat islands, and the birdlife of Pegunungan Arfak. Sorong and Manokwari are well-provided urban bases from which to launch your explorations.
The four biggest islands are Waigeo in the north, with the fast-growing new regional capital, Waisai; Salawati, just southwest of Sorong; Batanta, off northern Salawati; and Misool to the southwest. The Dampier Strait between Waigeo and Batanta has many of the best dive sites, so most accommodation options are on Waigeo, Batanta or two smaller islands between them, Mansuar and Kri.
Raja Ampat Islands (Four Kings Islands) group of 610 mostly uninhabited islands off Sorong offers some of the best – if not the best – diving in Indonesia. Raja Ampat’s sheer number and variety of fish, and its huge reef systems, with hundreds of hard and soft corals, have divers in raptures. It’s like swimming in a tropical aquarium! Little known until the last few years, Raja Ampat now sees a steady traffic of liveaboard dive boats, and the current handful of land-based dive resorts is growing. The sparsely populated islands – though not geared to travellers on tight budgets – are also great for snorkelling, birdwatching and just exploring amid sublime scenery of steep, jungle-covered islands, pristine white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons and pellucid waters.
Two fantastically coloured birds of paradise, the red and the Wilson’s, are endemic to just a few areas of the Raja Ampat islands. The red male has a spectacular courtship dance in which he spreads his wings and shakes like a big butterfly.
(information source: Lonely Planet Travel Guide)
How to get there
Sorong (pop 140’000) is Papua’s second biggest city; it sits at the north-western tip of the Vogelkop. It’s a busy port and base for oil and logging operations in the region, which has many transmigration settlements.
If you are going to the Raja Ampat Island, you’ll have to go over Sorong. You get daily over night flights from Jakarta (few airlines) or three times a week from Manado (one airline). From the airport it is about 20 min car ride to get to the harbour. The different dive centres offer speed boat ride to the different islands. It takes about 1½h to get to Kri Island, it depends on the sea conditions.
We decided to stay at the Kri Eco Resort operating since 1994, is the original Raja Ampat dive lodge, and belongs to Papua Diving, whose Dutch founder, Max Ammer, pioneered scuba in Raja Ampat. It has a gorgeous setting on little Pulau Kri, off the eastern tip of Mansuar, and six of the spacious, airy, wooden guest bungalows are built over crystal-clear waters along the jetty. Our stay was incredible and we did enjoy the place very much. The resort has a maximum capacity of 25 guests. The location is just like you can dream of, food is excellent. The atmosphere is laid-back. It is just amaizing when you stand up in the morning and you can observe sharks swimming under your bungalow.
Diving in Raja Ampat is expensive but very rewarding.
There are other resorts in the area but I can only comment the one we did stay in.