Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo, and the smaller island of Kofiau. Raja Ampat Regency is new regency which separated from Sorong Regency at 2004. It encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia. It is a part of the newly named West Papua (province) of Indonesia which was formerly Irian Jaya. The islands are the most northern pieces of land in the Australian continent.
The name of Raja Ampat comes from local mythology that tells about a woman who finds seven eggs. Four of the seven eggs hatch and become kings that occupy four of Raja Ampat biggest islands whilst the other three become a ghost, a woman, and a stone. History shows that Raja Ampat was once a part of Tidore Kingdom, an influential kingdom from Maluku. Yet, after Holland invaded Maluku, it was shortly claimed as a part of the kingdom of Holland. The main occupation for people around this area is fishing since the area is dominated by the sea. They live in a small colony of tribes that spreads around the area. Although traditional culture still strongly exists, they are very welcoming to visitors. Their religion is dominantly Christian.
The oceanic natural resource around Raja Ampat makes it significantly potential as a touristic area. Many sources place Raja Ampat as one of their top ten popular places for diving whilst it becomes number one in terms of underwater biodiversity. According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.
The area’s massive coral colonies along with relatively high sea surface temperatures, also suggest that its reefs may be relatively resistant to threats like coral bleaching and coral disease, which now jeopardize the survival of other coral ecosystems around the world. The Raja Ampat islands areremote and relatively undisturbed by humans.
The high marine diversity in Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by its position between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as coral and fish larvae are more easily shared between the two oceans. Raja Ampat’s coral diversity, resilience, and role as a source for larval dispersal make it a global priority for marine protection. 1,309 fish species, 537 coral species (a remarkable 96% of all scleractinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur in these islands and 75% of all species that exist in the world), and 699 mollusk species, the variety of marine life is staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs. Although accessing the islands is not that difficult, it takes some time. It takes six hours flight from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia to Sorong. Then, taking boat to reach the islands is necessary.
Paradise Birds: Sorong – Sorong In this route we use Sorong in Papua as embarking/disembarking port and its airport for incoming and outgoing flights. The Raja Ampat archipelago…
…owns the worldwide record of the greatest number of different species found in one single dive. What else do we need to say?…….ok, just add the most pristine and colourfull coral gardens, outstanding landscapes, primitive fishing villages and of course, Paradise Birds !
Leaving from the port of Sorong, in the “Bird’ s head peninsula”, we will travel through the archipelago from the island of Waigeo in the north to Misool in the south. The area where we will sail holds the record of the biggest number of different species counted in a single dive. National Geographic compares the species found here with the ones that can be seen in Palau. The reefs of Raja Empat enjoy a healthy marine biodiversity with more than 400 species of coral having been discovered here. Besides the abundance of fauna, this region contains numerous wrecks of Japanese ships and aeroplanes from the terrible battles held during the Second World War in this area. All the ingredients for a perfect adventure!
In brief: From Sorong to the Dampier Straits and from there to Aljui Bay, West Waigeo. Next to Kawe-Wayag, on the Northern end of the group, and down to Fam. Way South to Misool and back to Dampier and Sorong.
Main dive sites:
Waterlogged, a wall with caves and crevices rich in invertebrate life and critters is one of the highlights in the North. Sardine Reef is an underwater hill in the middle of the straits with schools of fish. In the South, Fiabacet, two little inlets joined by a ridge underwater, and muck diving in the jetties in front of the village of Yenbeser and Airborei. Also Jamur Boo, Manta Mantra and Black Beauty.
General characteristics of the dives:
Diving in fringing reefs around karst “mushroom” islands that combine walls and slopes with plenty of passages, canyons and caves. Also underwater ridges and muck diving in jetties and black sand slopes. Wreck of a WWII P-47 plane.
Early morning walk through the canopy outside a village to see the birds of paradise on a display tree. Visit to a pearl farm in Waigeo. Tender boat tours through the labyrinth of inlets and lagoons in Fam and Misool. Climb to the top for breathtaking views in Wayag Island.
Bring light clothes. Sun protection during the day. Temperature of the water 26-28°C, slightly colder in the North. 3 or 5 mm suit. Visibility variable, average 15/20 m. Ideal for wide-angle photography, but macro also good. Presents like used clothes, school materials or balloons for the village kids are welcome.
Type of routes
Routes to enjoy the Mistery of Exploration, the excitement of Adventure and the Guaranty of Sailing with Experts in this Paradise of Nature!!
Cruises in the regions where we have been sailing for many, many years now: Komodo, Rajah Ampat. We sail for adventure despite that SMY Ondina knows them very deeply. Every single dive has its own name and only if the group want, we will jump for the pleasure of discovery. Very special cruises for UW photographers and for those who don’t want to take risks.
How to get there:
The best way to get there is via Manado (from Singapore) or else via Jakarta where you can get a direct flight or via Makassar (Ujung-Pandang) to get to some of the most beautiful and remote places in Indonesia. Check the schedule and we can suggest some great land tours before or after the cruise to complement a wonderful diving trip and prevent any problem with delays or cancellations with the domestic flights. They are really worthy!
Rate : Euro 2.950/person/twin share
– Collaboration with reefs protection and helping local communities. SMY Ondina will use part of her incomes to encourage and actively collaborate with all local organisations promoting Nature conservancy programms and help for the local communities for improving their living standards. We will actively collaborate with other operators, local governments and nature conservancy organisations in all programms arranged to meet these objectives.
– Same number of nights as number of days in the cruise, you disembark in the morning of the last published date. Good saving in hotels!
– All transfers to/from airport or hotel to/from the SMY Ondina in the town of embarkation/disembarkation are included. In the routes starting or ending in Bitung, transfers to/from Manado are also included.
– Full Board on board, Tea, Coffee, Snacks and 1 Soft Drink at lunch and Dinner.
– Average of 3 or 4 dives per day, all in day time or 2 or 3 day dives and 1 night dive unless weather conditions or long sailing distance do not permit it. First and Last Cruise days are excluded due to safety reasons and flight schedules. These dates we will dive accordingly.
– Land Excursions when clearly specified in the cruise planning.
– All Entrance Fees to Natural Parks
– Diving tanks and weights for divers and snorkelling gear for non-divers
– Additional complimentary services available onboard: Library, Music, First aids……
Price does NOT include:
– Any other way of transportation than S.M.Y. ONDINA,
– Alcoholic drinks, tips & gratuities and any other onboard service not specified above like Massages, Equipment rental….etc
– Any police or diving permit or touristic tax and harbour fees charged per passenger by any local authority, plus fuel increases. Please count on 200eu/pax for cruises starting or ending in Papua/Maluku. This amount will be paid once onboard when requested by the Cruise Director.
Every cruise we run short excursions to visit spectacular landsacpes, local villages, see Fauna in the wild, paradise beaches…..etc. This will not affect the expected average number of dive per cruise unless all passengers agree so.
If you want to visit any other place in Indonesia, just tell us and we will help with pleasure