Asia Indonesia Papua

A Quick Guide to Raja Ampat

A Quick Guide to Raja Ampat

Why go?

Because everywhere you look is like a postcard. It is one of the last paradise on Earth. A place where time stopped and sunsets are incredibly stunning. It is one of the best places to snorkel and dive in the whole wide word.

The Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat lies in the Coral Triangle, which stretches from The Philippines to Timor to Papua New Guinea, known as the most biodiverse marine habitat on earth. That’s why Raja is often called ‘the Amazon of the Oceans’. It is one of the best places in the world to enjoy ‘underwater activities’. More than 1.320 species of fish and more than half the world’s population of corals can be found in Raja Ampat! Sound pretty amazing, right?

When to go?

Temperatures are all year round between 25 – 30 degrees with the humidity is over 80% so you can go whenever you need a dose of sun and vitamin sea. Heaviest rain in Raja is from May to October when water visibility is reduced. Aim for a visit between November and March when is the best time to go snorkeling and diving.

How to get there?

Raja Ampat is located in the Indonesian part of New Guinea – in West Papua (eastern part of the island belongs to Papua New Guinea).

First you have to reach Sorong, a city on the far west coast of Papua and starting point to reach Raja. There are daily flights from Jakarta to Sorong. From Sorong it’s a short ferry ride to Waisai, on the island of Waigeo where homestay operators will pick you up.

Getting around the islands?

Getting to and from most places to stay in Raja Ampat requires using a speed boat transfer with a local boats. Tours around the islands are expensive (around 100 $ per person for a day trip, if you have other people to share a boat with).

What to pack?

Insect repellent and medications, sunscreen and hat, flip flops, walking sandals, mask, snorkel & fins (cheaper if you don’t have to rent them), underwater camera (go pro), headlamp, swim suits and towel, light jacket (for evenings), summer dresses and shorts, your favorite book & iPod.

Where to stay?

If you want don’t have money for resorts (like me) the most economical and in my opinion the best choice to stay on the islands is homestay. Homestays made of palm trees are ideal for ‘back to nature’ vacation. There is no electricity, no internet or technology. Just a generator that runs every day a few hours when you can charge your mobile phone or batteries for photo equipment and that’s it. Wonderful to relax completely and shut off your brain. A night in homestays range from 40 – 60 $ with included 3 meals a day.

I booked accommodation through ‘Stay Raja Ampat’ page. You can find there a lot of useful information about the whole Raja Ampat archipelago.

What is Marine Park entry permit tag?

Raja Ampat is a protected marine area so all visitors must pay ‘permission’ that allow you to stay and to dive in the islands. The permit is valid for one year and the cost is “modest” $ 100 for foreigners ($ 50 for Indonesian citizens). Apparently money  from licenses go to the protection and maintenance of Raja’s islands and the underwater world. As I saw how much garbage there was (in the sea and on the beaches) I can hardly believe that permit is nothing else than ‘taking money out of the visitors’ pockets’.

Do I need to be a professional diver to explore ‘underwater’ world of Raja?

No! As part of the reef is in relatively shallow water, all you need is a mask and snorkel to dive into a completely different world. In the world full of colorful fish, school of tuna, majestic sea turtles that curiously circling around you or small sharks in search of food. You can also see all the fish from the cartoon “Finding Nemo”. Dory, Nemo and his dad, they are all here! And Patrick from Sponge Bob too!

What to do beside snorkeling and diving?

Enjoy beautiful beaches, amazing white sand and clear blue ocean. Drink coconut under the palm tree. Take hundred of magical sunset pictures! Visit local villages, pearl farms or take a tour to forest to explore bird-of-paradise species!

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