The Raja Ampat Islands are a truly beautiful paradise which is located off the northwest tip of of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province. Raja Ampat which translates literally as, ‘the Four Kings’, is an archipelago made up of over 1,500 small islands, surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. The Raja Ampat Islands encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia.
Due to the remoteness of the Raja Ampat islands, the area is relatively undisturbed by humans, which is a reason for such untouched beauty. The main reasons that people visit the region is, as you would have already guessed, diving. The diving here is considered to be some of the best in the world with the waters surrounding the Raja Ampat Islands consisting of 1,309 fish species and 537 coral species, the region really is a mecca for diving. It is a well rounded scientific belief that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs.
It is not just under the water where you will be left speechless from the sheer beauty of this region but you will find it to be just as stunningly beautiful above the water. There are many unique floras in the islands and the existence of many endemic animals (like, spotted couscous, the yellow-crested cockatoos, parakeets, frogs and snakes) can make hiking on land just as rewarding as snorkeling in the water.
These islands are truly a must see for every lover of tropical beach getaways and after one visit you will soon discover that there are not too many other tropical beaches that can live up to the stunning untouched beauty that the Raja Ampat Islands have to offer. There are a few different dive liveaboard boats as well as some high end resorts in this region, but remember it is a little off the beaten track so you may find it a little more expensive than other places in Indonesia.
The easiest way to get to Raja Ampat is to fly to Sorong via Jakarta or Singapore. Domestic travelers can also fly via Makassar or Manado. From Sorong, you can catch speed ferries to the four major islands in the area.