Situated off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on Papua, the most eastern Island of the Indonesian Archipelago, Raja Ampat or literally meaning ‘The Four Kings’ is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool. The name Raja Ampat itself is believed to derived from a legend where a woman found seven eggs, with four of them hatch and become the kings of the four main islands, while the other three became a woman, a ghost, and a stone.
For underwater enthusiasts, Raja Ampat definitely offers the some of the world’s ultimate experience. The territory within the islands of the Four Kings is enormous, covering 9.8 million acres of land and sea, home to 540 types of corals, more than 1,000 types of coral fish and 700 types of mollusks. This makes it the most diverse living library for world’s coral reef and underwater biota.
According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world’s species live here! Raja Ampat’s sheer numbers and diversity of marine life and its huge pristine coral reef systems are a scuba dream come true – and a fantastic site for snorkelers too.
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As you embark on your dive here, the phrase “Attention to detail” takes on new meaning as pigmy seahorses swim around your fingers. Manta Rays and wobbegongs will glide right by you. Schools of Tuna fish, giant trevallies, snappers, batfish, and even barracudas are there to complete your underwater “meeting list”. Not to mention the friendly assistant of the dugong, and a busy colleague, the turtle. Down at the sea floors, giant sea clams measuring to over one meter in length truly offers one of kind close encounter sensation.
Obviously, there are a lot of diving and snorkeling spots to choose from in this vast waters. Among these are at the Kabui Passage (the very narrow passage between Waigeo and Gam Island crossed by renowned British explorer, Alfred Russell Wallace in 1860), around the Arborek Island’s Dock, Sawandarek, Yenbuba, Friwen Wall, and many-many more.
While its underwater splendors are beyond exceptional, the landscape above the surface is equally breathtaking. As if it was carefully designed and placed with such aesthetic, the rock islets amidst the clear blue water and bright blue sky in Piaynemo offers some of the most spectacular sceneries on the face of the earth. Looking down from the top of the hill, it almost as seems that Mother Nature painted her finest artwork and offers a glimpse of paradise. Further at Wayag Island, you will also find an amazing rock islets formation in an even bigger scale.
The incredible wildlife of Raja Ampat does not stop underwater. Amidst the many thick jungles within the islands, ones can still find various bird species including the spectacular Cendrawasih or the bird of Paradise. There is also an endemic species of cuscus, the Waigeou cuscus or Waigeou spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus papuensis) which is a species of marsupial in the family Phalangeridae.
Aside from its endless fascinating natural attractions, Raja Ampat also offer the distinct hospitality of the Papuan. At the Arborek Tourism Village, you can stay at a number of homestays and mingle with the locals whilst observing their daily life and unique traditions. When a group of tourists arrived, they usually perform a traditional welcome dance right at the dock and entertained the ‘guests’ with various Papuan folk songs.
With all its spectacular wonders inland, on the shore, and beyond the waters, and distinct serene ambience that you rarely find anywhere else on earth, Raja Ampat truly offers the ultimate experience ones can only dream of.
So, whether you are an avid divers, occasional snorkeler, or just someone who appreciated beauty in every sense, Raja Ampat welcomes you to the Heaven on Earth.
Sourch: Indonesia Travel