Raja Ampat is an archipelago comprising of over 1,500 small islands and is found to the north west of Papua. It sits at the heart of the coral triangle and has the most diverse marine life on Earth. Before we began travelling we dreamt of visiting Raja Ampat, however due to the cost of getting there and around the islands we had virtually discounted it.
In Flores, however, we had a change of heart.. we were so close to Raja, it’s beautiful beaches and world class marine life, it would be foolish not to visit. Our journey from Flores to Raja took us 2 days, 4 flights, a ferry and a speedboat.
We spent 16 days in Raja Ampat staying mainly on Kri Island. Long white sandy beaches lined with coconut trees surround the island, incredible corals and marine life are just a few meters out to sea. For us, this was paradise. There are no shops or restaurants on the island (all meals are provided by the homestay) and the nearest village, on Mansuar Island, can be reached by a sand bank which is exposed at low tide.
We stayed in a lovely beachfront bungalow at Mambertron homestay and our host, Yudas, took us on a number of snorkelling trips around the island. The snorkelling was amazing, every day we would swim amongst black tip reef sharks, barracudas, huge bumphead parrot fish, turtles, puffer fish and many more. The quantity, variety and sheer size of the fish here is really impressive.
One night we snorkelled in front of our homestay and were surrounded by bioluminescent plankton which light up when touched. As you wave your hand in front of your face more and more plankton start to glow. It is pretty magical.
After 4 fantastic days on Kri we moved to Yendebabo homestay on Gam. One night after a fishless evening meal, James went night spearfishing with the locals. They caught an impressive 4 lobsters and 7 fish. The evening bbq was very much needed and fish doesn’t get much fresher than this! Delicious. Gam is a much larger island with many secluded beaches, however this made it very difficult to find other tourists to share trips with. It wasn’t long before we called Yudas and headed back home to Mambetron on Kri.
Throughout our stay at Mambetron we met some great people who made our trip even more enjoyable. We snorkelled, visited the nearby village and hiked to viewpoint together and the nights were always filled with laughter.
We also went on a couple of day trips to Painemo viewpoint and The Passage. The Passage is a small river like passage between Gam and Waigeo. The corals were like an underwater garden, full of colour, and the strong current made floating down the passage rather fun.
Raja Ampat is a wonderful place and is without doubt the highlight of our trip so far. I hope, one day, we will return.
Next stop: Bangkok, Thailand