Most people will not have heard of these islands before, but Raja Ampat, Indonesia is an incredible place. Often referred to as the most beautiful islands in the world, Raja Ampat is literally heaven on earth. A quick Google search will bring up sublime scenery with odd mushroom shaped islands, insane diving, and the bluest water you will ever see.
An introduction to the islands
Raja Ampat, in the native Bahasa translates to four kings. The legend is that four kings once ruled the four largest islands (Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool) in the archipelago, out of 1,000 islands in total!
The biodiversity in Raja Ampat has also broken several world records. Located in the coral triangle, Raja Ampat is home to over 1,000 species of coral reef fish and 700 different types of mollusks! Scientists reckon it’s the most biodiverse place in the world.
Obviously, diving here is out-of-the world. From the rare oceanic manta rays to schools of bumphead parrotfish (my favourite) to the endemic Pontohi pygmy seahorse (found only in Indonesia), Raja Ampat never ceases to amaze!
The dazzling array of corals in Raja Ampat is simply extraordinary; I have not seen anywhere else where the waters hold such life! There are corals of every colour, every shape you can imagine. The way the soft corals move in the ebb and flow of the currents is simply mesmerising and I could just watch it all day! It’s so hard to believe turquoise waters that look so calm on the surface can be so full of life!
Corals in Raja Ampat are nothing short of spectacular! Featuring my Friend @thetravelynn in the photo 📸TG4 💥Z240 Do check out her awesome travel blog: thetravelynn dot com 😉 #Indonesia #RajaAmpat #scuba #dive #scuba #underwater #underwaterphotography #photography #tg4 #nauticam #padi #ssi #ocean #marine #olympustg4 #olympus #paditv #wideangle #natgeo #speedyredfins #z240 #ladydenok #papua #corals #misool
Deserted beaches, turquoise waters...
If embracing the underwater world is not for you (no judgement here), the iconic Wayag islands with views that go on forever will surely set your heart racing. Now synonymous with Raja Ampat, the weird and wonderful mushroom shaped islands of Wayag have become the epitome of Raja Ampat’s unique landscape.
The Fam Islands also offer spectacular sights and a much less perilous climb. While easier to get to than Wayag, Fam can sometimes be a little crowded!
The friendly villagers and simple living is also one of my favourite things about Raja Ampat. The picturesque village dotted around the islands are always full of excitable children. Life here is simple and children don’t worry about the latest gadget. Instead they are busy jumping off jetties, showing off their skilled cannonballs or back flips, or partaking in a game of catch!
Life here is simple and unaltered; it’s hard to understand how someone can have so little and yet have so much. It makes me wonder what we have lost in the hustle and bustle of city life and the meaningless pursuit of material goods. Happiness is not something that can be bought, it must be found within yourself.
It is the soul of Raja Ampat that is truly beautiful: unadulterated, unchanged, and untamed. There are few places like it left in the world. It is its purity and innocence that makes it somewhere truly special and unforgettable.
Ok, you’ve sold me, now how do I get there?
There are three possible transit points to get to Sorong, where most resorts and boats do their pick-ups: from Jakarta, Manado, or Makassar. Flights are usually daily, albeit at weird hours. Getting there may be a little bit of a chore (its remoteness almost guarantees its beauty), but it will be worth it!
There are several options for accommodations but I would recommend staying in either a resort or a liveaboard. Obviously, a homestay can also be an option but don’t expect 5-Star comforts there.
A liveaboard is a small floating hotel—you live on a boat and explore the surrounding islands! By staying in a liveaboard, you can maximise the diversity of the dive sites to visit—there are over 200 dive sites in the whole of Raja Ampat! Diving-wise, I would certainly recommend staying in a liveaboard. Don’t forget to check out the wonderful islands of Misool and my favourite dive site, Magic Mountain. I would strongly recommend Lady Denok for a breath-taking journey. Relatively new, the Lady Denok offers spectacular diving and world-class service without breaking your wallet.
If you don’t have sea legs or maybe just don’t like diving that much, staying in a resort would be a great option for you. In a resort, you might not have as much freedom to venture to far flung locations but you’ll be assured to have some stable ground. I would strongly recommend staying in Papua Explorers. There are plenty of things to do there—you can explore neighbouring villages by foot, spend the afternoons swimming on the house reef and maybe channel your inner yogi on the sundeck. Having visited twice, Papua Explorers have consistently high standards and will not compromise on safety and comfort. Located in the Dampier Strait, world-famous dive sites like Cape Kri and Blue Magic are accessible by boat just within a few minutes.
The most beautiful islands in the world
So there you have it, the most beautiful islands in the world. Tropical waters and phenomenal diving, what more can you ask for? Do take note though that most resorts and liveaboards don’t operate from May to June as the waves are too strong for smooth passage, other than that, diving is perfect year-round!
Raja Ampat is breathtakingly beautiful and there is nowhere else like it. Inspired? Share this with someone you’d like to visit with!