Far from the view-blocking skyscrapers, dense and hectic concrete jungles, congested traffics, flickering electric billboards, endless annoying noises, and all the nuisances of modern cities, you will find a pristine paradise where Mother Nature and warm friendly people welcome you with all the exceptional wonders in Raja Ampat, the islands-regency in West Papua Province. With all the spectacular wonders above and beyond its waters, as well as on land and amidst the thick jungles, this is truly the place where words such as beautiful, enchanting, magnificent, and fascinating get its true physical meaning.
Here is the Complete Guide To Raja Ampat.
Raja Ampat is home to more than 1,000 islands located just off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua.
To access any of the islands you will first need to get to the port of Sorong. There are no direct international flights but you can fly into Sorong via Jakarta, Makassar, Ambon or Manado. Airlines include Lion Air, Xpress Airlines, Sriwijaya Airlines, Nam Airlines and Garuda Indonesia.
A return flight from Jakarta will cost you around $230-350USD, flights from Bali are possible (with a stopover) and should cost around the same, but check schedules and book things in advance as some airlines may not fly every day.
One you land in Sorong, you’ll need to get to the port (a taxi won’t cost you much) and then jump on one of the public ferries to Waisai on the island of Waigao. Departure dates and times vary depending on the day and time of year, but essentially there are two ferries, a slow one and a fast one, and at least one should run each day. The fast ferry takes around two hours, and the slow one four.
In addition to the usual island getaway essentials – suntan lotion, swimwear, hat, sandals, sunglasses – throw some comfortable walking shoes and mosquito repellent into your luggage. The risk of contracting malaria isn’t high, but it’s a possibility, so wear light long-sleeved clothes in the evening and sleep under a mosquito net at night – these should be provided even in homestays.
Make sure you have all relevant legal documents – passport, visa, proof of a return ticket, insurance policies, dive certifications – with you, and keep them waterproof. Many resorts accept credit card payments but make sure you have rupiah bills for things such as food on the go and tipping. Remember to withdraw or exchange money in Sorong, if not before, as ATMs and money changers can be scarce on the more remote islands.
If you have it, bring your own dive gear, especially things like safety whistles and mask straps. A dry bag or waterproof pouch for your electronic devices is another Raja Ampat must-have. It’s also advised to have a pair of binoculars at hand – bird watching is an activity in the archipelago that’s sorely overlooked.
If you’re going to bring your own toiletries, among which dry shampoo is probably a necessity, make sure they are environmentally friendly. The hospital in Raja Ampat has only the very basics so make sure to pack enough of any medication you need for the duration of your trip.
Kabui Bay is approximately an hour drive by speedboat from Waisai, the capital of Raja Ampat. Entering the piece of tropical paradise, you will be greeted by calm and clear green water. The cliffs are also quite high and beautiful with trees growing around it. However, you cannot stop by at all cliffs because some of them do not have shore. However, there are several cliffs that can be climbed and even have man-made stairs.
Friwen Beach has extraordinary natural beauty. White sands adorn the coast, shady trees surround the beach, and gradations of light blue and old sea water put beautiful color at the area. The waves at Friwen were very calm, even barely felt. This makes the beach more fun for chilling and relaxing while enjoying the beauty of the nature. If you want to eat, there are several shops that sell various foods and drinks. One that must be ordered is the fried banana which is served with a delicious chili sauce.
Without a doubt the highlight of the area is Piaynemo. A collection of mushroom shaped rocks, floating amongst turquoise waters. It’s what ‘James Bond’ island on Phi Phi may have looked like 15 years ago before the boat tours ruined it. Piaynemo without a doubt has one of the best views in all of South East Asia!
Ask at your accommodation for a day trip out here. Boats can be a little pricey depending on how far away you are staying, so again make sure you have plenty of other backpackers ready to go and share the cost.
On arrival, climb the 340 steps to the viewpoint and simply stand there in amazement at what lies in front of you. This is panoramic bliss, pure untouched beauty from left to right. Get your camera out, take a few snaps, but then put it away and breathe in the sights. It in unreal!
When you’ve had enough of staring (I stayed up there for 30 minutes!), come back down the steps and take a leap off the jetty into the refreshing waters. Floating there and looking up at the rocks surrounding you is a real treasured traveler moment.
Tired of the usual snorkelling or diving experience? How about swimming with thousands of jellyfish?
Another plus point – these are stingless jellyfish, so here in Lake Lenmakana, nature gives you a chance to get all tangled up without being stung.
You’ve probably heard about the jellyfish lake in Palau island or Kakaban island in East Kalimantan. Lenmakana’s jellyfish lake is said to have just been discovered few years ago.
Like many places in Raja Ampat, you need a moderate fitness and climbing ability to get here. The location is quite remote, so only the locals can guide you there.
You need to approach the karst by a speedboat and climb the steep reef. A glove is highly recommended.
Tip: The best time to visit is just after 1pm when the lake is glowing with thousands of golden jellyfish floating near the surface. Swimming with them is definitely once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Have you seen this incredibly picturesque island in pictures?
The inhabited island of Wayag is a well-known icon of Raja Ampat.
With breathtaking views at every turn, in Wayag, you will find pristine beaches and the iconic karst islands scattered beautifully across the crystal blue ocean.
To see all the mesmerising cone-shaped islands, be sure to climb up to the top of Pindito Hill for an amazing view. But note that it’s a quite steep and difficult 30-minute hike uphill – definitely not for the faint-hearted!
Do prepare suitable equipment such as hiking shoes, gloves and thick pants because you are hiking up a sharp coral stone hill. Don’t forget to bring enough drinking water, food, and extra clothes.
If trekking and climbing is not your thing, you can always enjoy the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters around the islands while snorkelling or diving!