Raja Ampat is heaven for underwater tourism. Located on Papua Island, Raja Ampat is an archipelago consists of four beautiful small islands; Waigo, Salawati, Batanta, and Misool. The island is very famous for having the best underwater beauty. Tourists who have ever visited this island mostly want to come and come again.
Take a plane from Jakarta or Bali Island to Sorong, Papua Island. From Sorong, you can continue your trip to Raja Ampat by a small plane with the capacity of 14 people. Or if you would like to enjoy the ocean view, there is also a tourism ship as your choice. There are two kinds of tourism ship from Sorong to Waisai (the capital to Raja Ampat); Marina Express and Bahari Express. Both ships cost you about $13 to $19 per one ticket. The sail takes up about 90 to 120 minutes.
1. Diving and Snorkeling
Because Raja Ampat is famous for its underwater view, so what else is there to do than diving or snorkeling? This is the main reason why everybody comes all the way to Raja Ampat. There are more than 600 species of corals, 1,511 species of fishes, 5 species of sea turtles, 57 species of mantis shrimp, 13 species of sea mammals, and about 700 species of mollusca. Based on the report by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, about 75% species of sea creatures are living around this island.
Going around under Raja Ampat water is such a splendid experience. You can swim along with tuna fishes, snappers, barracudas, and giant trevallies. Some seahorses might come towards your fingers out of curiosity. Sometimes, there are also dugong and sea turtles dancing around you. Diving equipment and costume are available to rent for only $4.
If diving is too scary for you, you can simply do a snorkeling. Even in a shallow underwater, you can get to see many creatures on it. It is highly recommended to bright at least one underwater camera to capture your moment. Because the scenery is just too beautiful too be missed.
2. Sailing or Kayaking
Above the water, the view is amazing as well. The blue ocean is outspread to the horizon. It is wide and clean and so much refreshing. The water in Raja Ampat Ocean is so clear that you get to see the corals even from above the water.
To enjoy this amazing view quietly, you can rent a boat and take a sail around the four islands of Raja Ampat. Sailing boat with the capacity of 8 people is available to rent for $450. If you want something more adrenalin-pumping, rent a kayak. Does not know how to ride a kayak? Do not worry. You can learn to do it from the kayaking instructor on the kayak renting center. Both sailing and kayaking are not recommended after sunset as the tide is high and dangerous.
3. Down the Bat Cave
No. It is not Batman’s secret cave. It is a real natural cave with real natural bats living inside it. The cave is located on Kawerwer. There are several caves in Kawerwer but not all of them have bats in it. Bats are not dangerous as they are not carnivorous. They are herbivore who likes to eat fruits. They tend to sleep on the afternoon and go hunting for foods at night. Chances you can get to see them sleeping while hanging on their feet at the cave ceiling.
Nearby the cave, there is a Laguna surrounded by huge corals. There is barely a wave at this laguna because the corals around are blocking it. Some small sharks sometimes are seen from a far, jumping and swimming free on the open sea.
Papua Island is famous for having various artistic crafts. Therefore, shopping for souvenirs is a must if you had a tour in Raja Ampat. There are several ways to get nice souvenirs. The easiest one is to stop by at some souvenir shops in Sorong when you are about to catch your plane home. But if you wish for some more memorable souvenirs, you can visit their primitive villages to see the making process of each craft. Sometimes, they even allow you to make your own craft.
Let us say the Asmat Tribe. They are famous for their statue carving and traditional way of life. But Asmat is a little bit far from Raja Ampat so maybe you need to set a different agenda for exploring Asmat.
There is also Kain Tenun, a cloth material made by threads that is woven manually. The making process of Kain Tenun can be seen on some villages in Sorong. Or, if you pay a visit to nearby Raja Ampat villages, you can get to see them making some traditional musical instruments and decoration ornaments.
There are no restaurants or food stands on Raja Ampat. The travel agents prepare it to you. They can provide both international and traditional menus. Do not hesitate to try out the traditional foods of Raja Ampat because Papua culinary is quite a favorite due to its tastiness. Usually, the traditional foods prepared by travel agents are cooked by the locals to maintain the original taste. There will be no artificial ingredients added.
Because it is located nearby the sea, most traditional culinary in Raja Ampat are seafood-based. These seafood in Raja Ampat taste better and are healthier than the ones you usually eat in “modern city”. This is because the sea itself is still natural so there is no such thing as mercury-contaminated or waste-toxicated.
Some recommended foods and drinks are sup ikan kuning (yellow fish soup), papeda (traditional sago porridge), and sauger (a traditional alcoholic beverage made out of coconut). If you like extreme culinary, you can try out their crispy fried worms and caterpillar satay.
6. Cendrawasih Birdwatching
Raja Ampat is also a habitat for Cendrawasih, a rare yet beautiful bird originally from Eastern Indonesia. Cendrawasih available on Raja Ampat mostly are Cendrawasih Merah (Paradisae rubra). Each bird has the furs with the combination of colors brown, yellow, red, green, black, and white. This colorful bird has long furs on the rear that makes it looks like a tail.
Cendrawasih Merah can only be found on Waego Island and Batanta Island on Raja Ampat. They have unique behavior, especially during the mating season. The male Cendrawasih would gather up, do a dance ritual to show off his beautiful furs and draw attention from female ones. After they got a “date”, they will start mating.
Cendrawasih Merah is polygamous. After one mating, the male will go out to find another female to mate again while the previous female must take care of the eggs alone. (Do not be dramatic over this. They are just animal and they have no problem with this like human does. Okay?)
Cendrawasih Birdwatching is available every day on 07.00-09.00 and 16.00-17.00 at the village. There are several wooden houses where you can comfortably watch the stunning Cendrawasih dance ritual. Besides Cendrawasih Merah, there are also Cendrawasih Besar, Cendrawasih Kecil, and Cendrawasih Belah Rotan in Raja Ampat.
7. Enjoying Sunset and “Hantu Laut”
Imagine watching the sun setting in the background of a beautiful ocean. Imagine how soothing it feels to watch this view after an exhausting day of adventure. Yes, sunset in Raja Ampat is indeed something that you should never miss out.
If you visit Raja Ampat around December, you might even see the unique natural phenomena called “Hantu Laut”. This term is created by the locals. It means “the ghost of the sea”. There is bright light coming from the sea and goes around the ocean surface. This beautiful phenomena lasts only 10-18 minutes around the sunset time.
other related article