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The Indonesian Insider: Raja Ampat or Paradise in a Hut

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The Indonesian Insider: Raja Ampat or Paradise in a Hut

Vitaly and Marina ” January 22, 2016, 19:14

The Indonesian Insider: Raja Ampat or Paradise in a Hut

There is a movie posted on the second page. For those interested, and anyone interested in the protected corners of our planet, I recommend watching it.

Every traveler should have a dream. Something unattainably distant, challenging and desirable. Sometimes the dream fades away, for a variety of reasons not having had time to materialize. One lacks the will to hope for its realization. But sometimes, a dream comes true.

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

If there is a Paradise somewhere on Earth, then it must be located among the Pacific Ocean islands. We came to this conclusion a long time ago, and, having traveled through many countries on different continents, we no longer doubt it. By no means do I want to say that other regions are inferior. Not at all, because we like all the continents of the Earth in their own way, or rather, wherever you can be alone with nature, without the crowds of galloping Chinese, and certainly without meeting with a certain category of compatriots. But what is usually associated with Paradise – warmth, tranquility, serenity, forests, flooded with the rays of the rising sun and the cries of colorful birds, in such concentration, in such quantity, probably, only here, secluded islands, where the whole day you will not meet a single boat, no tourists, and can all day splash in the azure waters with his Eva.

We learned about the Raja Ampat Archipelago seven years ago, when we were preparing for our first trip to Indonesia, on some bourgeois website. It was a picture that seemed almost unbelievable at the time, because at that time, it was almost unbelievable, because the archipelago was a place to be. This picture seemed then almost unbelievable – because then everything was just beginning for us… From time to time, returning to the subject, the coveted archipelago did not become more accessible – problems with logistics and insane prices for accommodation in several lonely hotels made the trip almost unthinkable. So, only my fourth trip to Indonesia graced this gem! Experience gained over time suggested that there is nothing impossible – there is only a lack of information, which, however, can be easily overcome with some persistence and understanding of how and where to collect it correctly. And, having gathered the right portion of information, we realized that Raja Ampat can be quite budget-friendly – except for diving, of course. The notion of budget is, of course, relative – we spent almost as much here in three weeks of travel (along with diving) as we did in a month of travel in Central and South America five years ago. Our new crisis was just beginning, and the dollar for 36 rubles did not yet seem the end of the world. And the dream was taking shape brighter and brighter!

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Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

“I do not understand why the destruction of created by human hands is called vandalism, and the destruction of created by nature is called progress” (c)

Without knowing logic, don’t drop the rebuke

Re: Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Vitaly and Marina ” January 22, 2016, 19:15

The road to Raja Ampat will take a decent portion of the vacation, riddled with exhaustion at the beginning of the journey. After flying to Jakarta or Denpasar, local airlines will take you to Sorong. Usually there is a connecting flight via Makassar. On arrival in Sorong, you need to take a cab for 100-150k and drive to the port (10-20 minutes). There are 2 boats leaving daily for Waisai (excluding national holidays) – usually one faster and one slower. Both leave around 2pm. It is best to arrive at the port at least one hour in advance to get a seat. Travel time is about 2-3 hours. When you arrive at Waisai, you are either met by the hotel (or hostel) boat by prior arrangement, or upon arrival you make an appointment with the locals to take your carcasses to the island of interest. Fuel is expensive there, so all boats are very expensive. Usually a separate transfer from the hotel owners costs $50-$100 per boat, depending on remoteness. I suspect it won’t be cheaper locally. But, if you find companions, the cost is shared. In the end, our trip from Moscow took more than two days.

The situation with lodging and prices

So, after surfing the Internet, it became clear that in recent years, the housing situation in those parts of the country had gotten a lot easier. The locals felt the commercial spirit and realized that they could make some money from white rich people. As a result, homestays began to grow like mushrooms after the rain on the islands. The locals build next to theirs a few more thatched cottages on chicken legs, and Welcome! 30-50 dollars a day per person and a mattress or even a bed + three meals a day are provided. Many of the Raja Ampat islands now have such homestays. Most of them on the most popular island Kri, there is a small island Airborek, which is near the magnificent “pasture” mantas, there is an island Gam. However, in the year since our return, the number of accommodations seems to have doubled. So, it’s better not to put off the trip too long before those protected places turn into another tourist anthill. The most informative site for finding a hostel is http://www.stayrajaampat.com/accommodation .

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Homestay owners cooperate with each other, giving tourists tours of the islands, snorkeling and… even diving! Yes, that’s right! After all, diving – this is the main thing, for what go to these areas most tourists. Particularly enterprising had time to get an express diving certificates the appropriate categories and opened their own dive centers. But Europeans are not dormant. The days when there were only two incredibly expensive hotels on the whole archipelago are not far off. Now there are more humane places to stay, with European management. All of them usually have their own diving centers, what is more attractive. After all, in terms of comfort level they are not much better than some local hostels. But to dive with them somehow calmer and more reliable, especially for those who are not very much experience, or do not have their own equipment. Already by the end of our trip, we communicated with people who dived with the locals. No test swim to check the currents, and the whole briefing boiled down to the phrase “one-two-three – GO”. Exactly diving experience, as I understand it, they have not yet gained, and, given the very difficult dive conditions and unpredictable currents in those places, it can play a cruel trick. So, experienced divers who have their own, proven equipment, I think, can save a lot of money with them, and the rest, frankly, I would not advise it.

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So, after reading a lot of reviews and comparing the cost in all relatively budget “eurohotels”, we settled on the Raja Ampat Biodiversity Eco Resort (rajaampatbiodiversity.com). The place is run by a couple of Spaniards, Rey and Patricia. They are dive guides, instructors and cooks – all in one package, in any case, some of the food exactly Patricia cooked herself, although I can not say that it was very tasty – but, as they say, tastes differ. Patricia, a sort of local “manager” – serious, decides all financial matters, will not forgive and will not play a single penny, keeps away from all matters not related to life in her hotel, and her hospitality often seems a bit strained. Maybe it’s just an impression, though. Her husband Ray, on the other hand, seems like a much more straightforward, direct and positive person, ready to help in word and deed. And diving with him is much more interesting – you can see that he really enjoys what he sees. The hotel itself is located about 20-30 minutes by boat from the main village of Waisai, where the ferry comes from the mainland, next to a beautiful deserted beach. Lodging there, of course, simple, but cozy – about the same houses on chicken legs, as the locals, but inside more pieces of furniture and more light. Toilets with showers for 2 houses. On food, especially its meat and fish part, it is visible that economize, but hungry will not remain. But they don’t skimp on safety for divers. With this here everything is as it should be, you can not worry. Accommodation in most of these hotels is sold as a “package”. It usually includes a transfer, several days of accommodation, a diving package and three meals a day. Here such a package for 5 days/6 nights/10 dives cost 1180$ per person (now it is 1320$) + 30$ per day per person for BCD and regulator rental. For far sites you have to pay extra, sometimes very decently. At first they wanted us to pay 100% upfront and only by wire transfer. We managed to negotiate a 25% prepayment, so that we would not lose so much on the wire transfer. Now they say only 25% on the website.

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Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut Undiscovered Indonesia: Raja Ampat or paradise in a hut

Raja Ampat marine park fee.

You will also have to pay the reserve fee, confirmed by a company token. You can buy it both near the airport and at the hotel. It is valid for a year, so I understand that hotels buy them in stock. Thanks to this, the hotel sold them to us still at the old price of 500,000 rupees. Officially at that time it was already worth a million. Although, according to various information, the official outlet was still selling them at the old price at that time. Can I not pay this fee? If you are not going to dive with European law-abiding hotels, you probably can. Although, at the hostel on Airborek Island, they put us in the logbook, and one of the items was just the permit number. On the island of Kri no one asked for a permite. Although, some write that there are unscheduled inspections, and the absence of the cherished token threatens a large fine.

“I do not understand why the destruction of created by human hands is called vandalism, and the destruction of created by nature is called progress” (c)

Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat

Every traveler dreams of finding a place where he would like to return again and again. There are such places in Indonesia. One of them is the Raja Ampat Archipelago. Our article will tell you why it is so attractive to tourists and what are the good local resorts.

Read more about the archipelago

Geographically, Raja Ampat is located near the island of New Guinea on the northwestern side of the Cendrawasih Peninsula. The islands of Raja Ampat belong to the province of West Papua of Indonesia. With over 1,500 small islands, shoals and reefs, they are clustered around the Four Kings: the main islands of Indonesia’s Raja-Ampat archipelago: Batanta, Waigeo, Misool and Salawati. Next to the four is also the small island of Kofiau.

Mini-island

The archipelago of Raja Ampat is part of the so-called Coral Triangle, which ranks first in the world for its enormous marine diversity. Visiting Indonesia and the islands of Raja Ampat, you can take the best photos of your life.

In 2004, the administrative district of Raja Ampat was completely separated from the district of Sorong. Its area exceeds 40,000 square kilometers and extends to both land and sea. In particular, covering the largest marine National Park in Indonesia – Cendrawasih Bay. Many centuries ago, the Raja Ampat Archipelago was part of the Maluku kingdom.

Paradise Coast

Geography of the Four Kings

The nature of Raja Ampat, surrounded by the ocean, is predicted by analysts to have enormous tourist potential. The underwater diversity makes the Raja Ampat Archipelago one of the most popular diving destinations in the world.

The International Society for Conservation of Nature believes that this territory has the highest diversity of marine organisms on the planet. They are much more than in any other area of the Coral Triangle, which includes the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. The Raja Ampat Archipelago is the richest coral reef ecosystem in the world.

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Rocks and bays

The local reefs are resistant to bleaching and disease and are virtually untouched by civilization. Because of the islands’ location between two oceans, corals and fish from both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean are present in this area.

Biologists estimate that there are 1508 species of fish, 699 species of shellfish, and 537 species of coral in the waters of the Raja Ampat Archipelago, which is ¾ of all coral species found in the world. Huge swarms of fish and the constant presence of carpet sharks can be found in some places.

A marvelous underwater world.

Population of the Raja Ampat Islands

Small tribes live throughout the archipelago. Their main occupation is fishing, which is geographically sound. The remoteness from European civilization contributes to the flourishing of tribal traditions. With the development of tourism in the archipelago, local tribes began to make various souvenirs for sale from shells, coconuts, animals and plants.

The islanders are very friendly and are always happy travelers and tourists. Outwardly, they look more like a tribe of Ambonians than the indigenous Papuans. In XX-XXI century, many islanders have converted to Islam or Christianity.

Raja Ampat tribes

Diving on Raja Ampat

One of the main, if not the main, entertainment in the Raja Ampat Islands is excellent diving. There are many dive centers in the archipelago, most of them located on Waigeo Island or its neighboring settled islands. As a rule, the big centers are owned by Indonesians and foreign investors, and the small ones are opened by locals.

Underwater

Diving is an expensive pleasure, and Indonesia is no exception. The cost of the tour includes the purchase or rental of equipment and gear, payment for a special permit and insurance, boat or boat rental, payment for a professional instructor or an accompanying person from the local population. Many divers buy a pre-packaged tour, in which case all organizational issues are solved by tour operators. On average, a 10-day tour costs €3000-5000 per person.

Underwater

The most popular spots:

  • Paradise, a dive resort on Batang Island;
  • Citrus Ridge (Citrus Ridge) – lots of orange and yellow corals near the island of Yangeffo;
  • The 30-meter Passage Strait between the two islands of Waigeo and Gam, lying between rocks that are densely covered with lush vegetation from the water itself. Salt and fresh water mix here;
  • Manta Sandy – huge stingrays with a fin span of over 5 meters swim here.

Attractions and attractions

Raja Ampat Archipelago is called a faraway paradise by many guides. There are no architectural or historical sights here. Nature and its diversity is the main wealth of the islands. It is common here to enjoy the sun and the sea.

Beach Recreation

The most popular activities after diving are boat tours along the major islands and the archipelago as a whole. Locals gladly moonlight as guides and guides. With their help, you can see the local sights of the islands:

  • waterfalls;
  • Orchid gardens;
  • caves and grottoes.
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In addition to a comfortable beach holiday you can participate in the national holidays or celebrations of a particular tribe.

Raja Ampat Watersports Sky and Palms

Hotels in the Raja Ampat Archipelago

Most tourists spend their vacation on one of the four largest islands of the archipelago. They are the only ones where the vacation conditions will be close to the usual: there are hotels, stores, diving centers, ATMs and tourist offices.

Hotels on Raja Ampat, as a rule, are built in the traditional national style of Indonesia. Seasoned tourists make special mention of such establishments as:

  • Papua Paradise Eco Resort;
  • Sorido Bay Resort;
  • Raja Ampat Biodiversity Resort;
  • Hotel Raja Ampat.

In addition to hotels, you can rent a room or bungalow from locals who are happy to accommodate you. You will get an overnight stay without any additional facilities and food, but you can save a lot of money. Travelling through the small islands of Raja Ampat, you can stay overnight among the local tribe. You can rent a bungalow in each village, and the men of the tribe can work as guides for you or rent out fishing gear and boats.

Private mini-hotel

As an accommodation option, you can consider offers from Indonesian tour companies. Specially equipped yachts are ready to send you on an individual voyage or a group multi-day tour of the islands of Raja Ampat. In this case, you will live directly on the yacht, which will show you the beauty of the many islands. All dives will be guided directly from the boat, but each time in a new location.

Hotel or Bungalow

Cafes and restaurants

The gastronomic issue in the Raja Ampat Archipelago is solved in several ways:

  1. Restaurants at the hotel where you choose to stay. You can eat here on your own or pre-order full board.
  2. If you stay in a modest hotel or in a bungalow with a native, you can cook on your own or arrange the format and single meal.
  3. All dive tours include a full three meals a day. Additionally, the cook on the boat can prepare your catch.

As for establishments on the islands themselves, travelers most often mention Warung Prasmanan Raja Ampat and Warung Mas Gondrong Ngawi. It turns out that it is much nicer to eat at small eateries on the coast or at local fishermen’s houses. The menu may be meager compared to the posh restaurants in Europe, but everything is always freshly prepared: fruit, vegetables, fish and seafood.

How to get to the islands of Raja Ampat?

To get here is not difficult, but it will take a lot of time. You can get to the international airport in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, from any mainland. Then you need to take a flight to the island of Sorong. Estimated travel time is six hours. And once you arrive, you can take a ferry, boat, or boat to any island of Raja Ampat, not only the Four Kings. Many tourists go on a diving tour around the archipelago by boat or by ship from Sorong.

Marina

The most comfortable time to visit Raja Ampat is considered the period from April to September.

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