Raja Ampat | West Papua
From the highest peaks of its spectacular hills to the kaleidoscopic display of its coral reefs, Raja Ampat’s dreamlike beauty is any discriminating traveler’s ultimate fantasy.
Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool are the four main islands of Raja Ampat — literally The Four Kings — the archipelagic regency located off the northwestern tip of West Papua’s Bird’s Head Peninsula. Complementing these island are around 1,500 islets, cays, and shoals. Raja Ampat’s jungle-covered islands and islets as well as its waters combined cover a total area of approximately 70,000 square kilometers (17 million acres). The heart of The Coral Triangle, it is home to nearly 540 coral species, more than 1,500 fish species, and about 700 types of mollusks. Being the richest living collection of marine biodiversity in the world, descending into the water is like entering an underwater Eden. Some of the top diving and snorkeling spots to choose from are located around Boo, Wayilbatan, Dampier Strait, the Arborek Island’s Dock, Sawandarek, Yenbuba, and Friwen Wall.
The splendor does not stop underwater. Amid the islands’ rainforests, trekkers can expect to witness cendrawasih, or the bird of paradise, and the Waigeou cuscus, among numerous other species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. And if you wish to get to know the locals by observing their daily life and learning their distinct traditions, some of the places to do so are Arborek, Sauwandarek, and Sawinggrai villages.
With endless wonders come endless things to do, provided that one has all the time in the world to explore the region. Travelers can get a glimpse of the past by visiting prehistoric hand paintings at Pef Island and Misool Island’s Sumalelen and Sumbayo cliffs. They can also opt to swim with stingless jellyfish, jump into lagoons, and explore caves. Of course, one should not pass up the opportunity to hike up the hills of Piaynemo and Wayag islands to see for oneself those postcard-perfect views of Raja Ampat’s scattered, uninhabited islands.