The Spectacular Islands of Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat – the stunningly beautiful archipelago in Indonesia – deserves every bit of its reputation as an exotic, lush and beautiful tropical paradise. Its jungled limestone islands, turquoise lagoons, and sparkling white-sand beaches are pristine and otherworldly. Plus, underneath the waves, visitors are treated to a diver’s dream come true with beautiful corals dotting the landscape.
In other words, if you’re looking for adventure at the ends of the Earth, go to Raja Ampat.
The islands are strikingly beautiful, and they offer incredible experiences for every traveler. Whether you want to relax and sip cocktails on the beach, or you’re looking for challenging drift dives over pristine reefs, Raja Ampat won’t disappoint. We put together this overview of the islands of Raja Ampat, including where you should go and what you must see when visiting this exotic locale.
Where to Go: Must-Visit Islands in Raja Ampat
The remote islands of Raja Ampat jut out from the west coast of Papua. The island chain means – “Four Kings” – and that refers to the region’s four main islands. Yet, there are an abundance of islands and cays to explore, some 1,500 in total.
Which islands are must-sees in Raja Ampat? These are a few of our favorites:
- Waigeo – The largest of all the islands, Waigeo is a key jumping off point for visitors to Raja Ampat. The island is hilly and covered in a dense jungle, with most of the villages located on the coast. Most come here for wildlife excursions in the island’s interior. The forests are rich in biodiversity, including being one of just two islands home to the Wilson’s bird-of-paradise.
- Kri – Kri is the ultimate beach destination in Raja Ampat. Known for its pristine white-sand beaches and eco resorts, the island is a must-visit for snorkeling and diving or simply relaxing on the beach. On the island, you’ll find a number of dive centers, and the island is located near numerous reefs to dive in the nearby Dampier Strait.
- Mansuar – Located just off Kri, Mansuar offers many of the same delights – albeit without the crowds. Biodiverse reefs are located just off shore in crystal-clear water; that makes for great snorkeling. Plus, the interior jungles are perfect for trekking. Take a hike to the island’s interior lake, and see numerous species of exotic bird along the way.
- Arborek – The tiny cay of Arborek is stunningly beautiful, a remote paradise right in the middle of the Raja Ampat region. The island is fringed by white sandy beach. In fact, you can walk the entire island by beach in about 30 minutes. Another reason to stop here: Arborek is located near a ton of top dive sites including Manta Point and Manta Sandy.
- Gam – Thanks to the incredible Gam and Kabui Bays, Gam Island is a favorite destination on yacht charters. The island is surrounded by clear turquoise waters, with several reefs nearby. Many go to see the red birds-of-paradise in Gam too, as there are several observation decks in the jungle.
- Batanta – This island is the smallest of the Four Kings, and it’s a natural oasis. Thanks to its tall cliffs, the island sees lots of rain, and as a result, there are numerous waterfalls here. The main waterfall – the Batanta Waterfall – is a must-see.
A World-Class Diving Destination
Raja Ampat beckons divers from around the world, thanks to its pristine marine habitats. The archipelago – which sits right in the middle of the Coral Triangle – is home to some 200 dive sites, each one as awe-inspiring as the last. You’ll find a range of diving experiences, from macro sites with pygmy seahorses, to manta cleaning stations and giant schools of fish over coral tunnels and walls, with dives catering to all skill levels.
Come to Raja Ampat to see: barracuda, jackfish, batfish, snapper, nudibranchs, turtle and shark. The islands are also rich in coral species, whales, dolphins and more. Where should you go? Here are a few of the most beautiful dive sites in the islands:
- Manta Sandy – An important manta cleaning station, massive rays with wingspans of 5 meters are a common sight here. This is one of the best manta dive sites in all of Indonesia.
- Sardine Reef – Located near Kri, the Sardine Reef draws massive schools of small tropical fish; in fact, they’re so large, the schools can block out the sunlight. The experience is unlike any other for divers.