Raja Ampat, which translates to the 4 kings, refers to the region’s main islands, Waigeo, Batanta, Misool and Salawati.
The Raja Ampat area, however, is made up of over 1500 islands, covers an area of around 70,000sq KM, straddles the equator and boast the richest marine biodiversity on the planet. Here we look at some of the main islands that divers can enjoy on a trip to this stunning destination.
Let’s start with Raja Ampat’s largest island, Waigeo. Waisai, the capital of Raja Ampat regency is found on this island. However, it isn’t exactly the metropolis you might imagine with only around 8,000 inhabitants.
The rest of the island is very beautiful and has a lush interior and scenic bays and beaches to explore. If you are an adventurous traveler you can hunt the jungles for the many animals that live there. It’s especially good for bird watching and is home to plumed herons, honeyeaters, and the Wildson’s bird of paradise, one of the icons of West Papua.
Batanta Island is south of the Dampier Strait from Waigeo and is known as the smallest of the 4 Kings. It offers gorgeous beaches, and incredible snorkeling with dugongs often spotted in the sea grasses around the island.
Batanta is also just a short boat trip from Papua Paradise Eco Resort on Birie Island, it is an excellent place to go for jungle trekking and watching hundreds of hornbills coming in to roost in the mangroves.
One of the southernmost islands of Raja Ampat, Misool is 150 kilometres south of Sorong. The remoteness of this island means it is one of the most pristine of the islands in the archipelago.
The thick forests and mangrove swamps take up much of the island but there are a couple of larger towns on the north coast. The coasts of this island are quite rugged so beaches aren’t the main reason to visit Misool. However, the scenery, with limestone pinnacles jutting out of the sea to the east and west of the island, is simply breathtaking. And if you are interested in human evolution, you’ll find the petroglyphs found on the walls of caves throughout the island fascinating.
Sometimes called the Fam Islands, Fam is the name of the largest island in this group and also the group itself. Famed for some of the best diving in the world, this is a day trip option with Gangga Divers from Papua Paradise Eco Resort.
Crystal clear water, a huge variety of marine species, and stunning scenery above and below the water makes this a must visit island when you’re in Raja Ampat. You can also visit nearby Piyanemo Island with its incredible panoramas on the same trip as the Fam group.
This may not be one of Raja Ampat’s bigger islands but it packs a ton of life into a tiny space. Arborek is the most visited island for tourists to see a slice of life in the region. You can walk around the village, where women weave in the traditional way, see the homes and even a traditional dance.
There is some good snorkeling and it’s fun to play and swim with the local kids who spend their time outside of school jumping from the jetties and swimming in the beautiful clear water.
Gam & Kri
You could practically spit from the east end of Gam island to the westernmost point of Kri. Both have beautiful reefs, stunning bays and pure white beaches. This makes them very popular with tourists and therefore there are quite modern facilities for visitors.
When you stay at Papua Paradise you may head towards Gam Island for the famous Passage dive. This is an iconic dive with an amazing variety of seascapes, from mangroves where the light filters through in breathtaking patterns, to rocky underwater ridges where macro marine life like to hide away. There is also Citrus Ridge, one of the best coral gardens in all of Raja Ampat.
Last but not least (there are around 1500 islands in Raja Ampat afterall!) is Mansuar. This is a larger island fringed by coral reefs where the diving is truly breathtaking.
There are plenty of opportunities on land as well. Jungle trekking, birdwatching, and visits to local villages are just a few things to enjoy.
There are so many incredible islands to explore in Raja Ampat. It’s worth knowing a little about their differences before you travel. If you have any questions at all about getting to or getting around in Raja Ampat, including day trips from Papua Paradise Eco Resort, leave us a question in the comments box below.
Photos supplied by Papua Paradise Eco Resort