ISLANDS TO EXPLORE - RAJA AMPAT
About the Island
Sorong is the gateway to the Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia. The name Raja Ampat, when literally translated, means “Four Kings” referring to the islands Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. These are off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula which is comprised of these four major islands. These four islands are in turn surrounded by approximately 1500 untouched smaller islands with superb pristine beaches and sheer ragged limestone cliffs plunging into turquoise oceans.
The best time to visit Raja Ampat is between October and April.
What to See & Do
Above the waterline, the myriad of islands in the archipelago present ornate landscapes carved by wind, wave and tropical rainfall from the ancient limestone. Covered in dense tropical forest and fringed by mangroves, the islands’ landscapes are every bit as diverse and rich as those beneath the waterline.
Resounding with bird and insect calls, the Raja Ampat archipelago houses the largest number of land and freshwater bird species in the region: parrots, hornbills, lorikeets, marbled frogmouths, red throated myzomelas and not forgetting of course, the famous Birds of Paradise on Gam Island.
Raja Ampat’s cultural heritage is rich and diverse too, ranging from prehistoric cave paintings through to relics from the era of the Four Kings who once ruled here and gave the region its name, to remnants of a more recent history such as the cave bunkers and seabed wreckage from World War II.
Visitors can also enjoy jungle trekking, being introduced to kampong life and being show around the villages, visiting a pearl farm, touring a sea turtle rookery and sea kayaking.
The Beauty of Nature & Wildlife
The region as a whole is as stunning above the water as it is below. Raja Ampat is truly one of nature’s gems.
There is a lot to see and do in Raja Ampat but, at the same time, you couldn’t pick a better place to get away from it all! Between the jungle’s dawn bird chorus and the ocean’s reflected sunset glow, there’s nothing but the calm passing of another day, lost in a tropical island paradise.
What Its Waters Offer
Raja Ampat is recognized as the World’s most bio-diverse marine eco-system with over 1,200 species of fish and 550 species of corals, both soft and hard, not forgetting the marine mammals and reptiles. It shelters six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles.
If you prefer to snorkel, you will see sites that are just as thrilling as those that the divers experience. Look for Napoleon wrasse, cardinal fish, angelfish, butterfly fish, giant clams anchored to the sea floor, schools of barracuda amongst the sea anemones and colourful coral heads.
It really is a true Shangri-La for divers, snorkelers, marine biologists or keen underwater photographers.