Welcome to Raja Ampat Islands, The Hidden Jewels of Indonesia!
Our Calgary Travel Agency – Wanderfly Canada, highly recommends visiting these islands!
The sparsely populated and remote, Raja Ampat Islands is an archipelago comprising of over 1500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo, and the smaller island of Kofiau. The Raja Ampat islands are remote and relatively undisturbed by humans – and probably the reason they are pristine.
With their jaw-dropping scenery of steep, jungle-covered islands, fine white-sand beaches, hidden pools and lagoons, spooky caves, weird mushroom-shaped islets and crystal clear turquoise waters, Raja Ampat is without question one of the most beautiful and incredibly clean island chains in the world.
The regency encompasses around 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 sq mi) of land and sea, and has a population of about 50,000 (as of 2017).
There is an interesting mythological story behind the name of “Raja Ampat” – Raja means King, and Ampat means Four. The local story goes like this: “There was a woman who discovered seven eggs on one of the islands. Four of the seven eggs hatched and they became kings who occupied four of Raja Ampat’s biggest islands. The other three become a ghost, a woman, and a stone.”
According to Conservation International, scientific marine surveys strongly suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat region is the highest recorded on Earth. The archipelago which is right along the Equator is ranked by many sources as one of their top ten most popular places for diving whilst it retains the number one ranking for underwater biodiversity.
The marine diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and East Timor. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.
The area’s massive coral colonies along with relatively high sea surface temperatures, also suggest that its reefs may be relatively resistant to threats like coral bleaching and coral disease, which now jeopardize the survival of other coral ecosystems around the world.
Rainforests that cover the tropical islands of Raja Ampat are a natural habitat of a lot of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Two species of birds of paradise, i.e. Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra) and Wilson’s Bird of Paradise (Diphyllodes respublica), are endemic to the islands of Waigeo, Gam and Batanta.
From a travelers point of view, there are two broad regions of Raja Ampat islands, one is north of Sorong, called the Waigeo area and the other is in the south, called the Misol area. From Sorong to Waigeo area takes about two to 2 and half hours by speedboat. To go south to the Misol region it takes a bit longer, around four to five hours by regular boat from Sorong.
The Waigeo area or northern part of Raja Ampat Islands, is much better equipped for tourists and casual travelers. There are many good resorts and plenty of quality home-stays available for a decent price. If you want a quieter and a bit more remote feel, and if you want to disconnect from the world, we suggest you take some time and go south to Misol – It’s super nice, quite, and as enchanting as it gets for an island life!
How to Get to Raja Ampat Islands:
1. The easiest way and the most common is to fly in Bali or Jakarta from any of the Canadian cities. Then fly to Sorong, the closest Indonesian city in West Papua and the gateway to Raja Ampat Islands.
From Jakarta: There is 1 daily non-stop flight from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport to Sorong. Flight duration is 4 hours but remember that Papua is +2 time zones ahead of Jakarta.
From Bali: There is NO nonstop flight available from Bali’s Ngurah Rai (aka Denpasar) International Airport. You must transfer at Makassar, the provincial capital on Sulawesi Island. There are 3-4 flights per day, all involving a 8-10 hour layover.
2. After landing in Sorong airport, you will need to transfer to Sorong Harbor. If you have luggage, take a taxi from the airport to the harbor for about a 10-20 minute ride costing roughly 100-150k Indonesian rupiah. If you are a just backpacking like us without much luggage, you can try catching an Ojek (Indonesian name for motorbike) for about 20k rupiah.
3. At Sorong harbor, take a ferry to Waisai, the capital city on the main Raja Ampat island of Waigeo. Raja Ampat has four main islands: Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo. Waigeo is the main island and its administrative center and capital city is called Waisai. You want to head to Waisai as this is the main jumping off point to Raja Ampat and all the homestays and hotels pick up travelers at Waisai.
4. Sorong to Waisai: Take one of the express ferries and don’t forget that express in boat time is still a good 2 hr journey. The ferries depart at 2pm each day. Express ferry cost 130k rupiah for economy class and 220k for VIP class. VIP class has AC and is less crowded – we recommend spending the extra money here. You can buy a ticket directly at Sorong harbor.
5. Waisai to the Islands
Finally, you’ve made it to Waisai. The city’s harbor is not one to linger in – here not much to do and there’s very little infrastructure for tourists. Make sure to book your accommodation ahead of time and also arrange your speedboat transfer from Waisai to the islands in advance.
Altogether, just getting to Raja Ampat is a bit of a nightmare but once you arrive to your island, we promise it will be every bit of PURE paradise and some of the best diving you’ve ever had!
Get in touch with our travel agency in Calgary, Wanderfly Canada, and let us plan and book all of your trip and enjoy a hassle free once in a lifetime trip to the secret jewels of Indonesia! Follow us on Instagram @canadianglobetrotters
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