One of the last frontiers, the seas of Raja Ampat, a paradise in West Papua, are home to the richest and most diverse sea life on the planet, the perfect destination for a luxury cruise in Indonesia. A plethora of coral reefs await, teeming with sea life, wrecks, mantas and the majestic whale shark.
However, that is only half the story as above ground is equally majestic. Host to indigenous tribes, exotic spice plantations, a fascinating history and breath-taking scenery, Raja Ampat is a jewel awaiting discovery.
The romance of this far-flung region is embodied by the history of its fairy-tale name which literally translates as ‘four kings’. Local mythology tells of a woman who finds seven mysterious eggs. Four of these hatch and become kings who reign over Raja Ampat’s biggest islands – Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta and Misool. The other three are not so lucky and become a ghost, a woman, and a stone.
Keen to know more? Read on as we describe a 10 day journey, discovering the beauty and biodiversity of the stunning region of Raja Ampat on a cruise like no other.
Let’s find those sea-legs…
Your journey begins the moment you step off the plane and are greeted by our smiling team bearing gifts of oshibori and cool mineral water to keep you refreshed on the way to the harbour where you will be introduced to your home, perhaps a phinisi, for the next 10 days. Get acquainted with your new surroundings and relax on the deck as you rejuvenate from your journey. Embrace the freedom, one only feels on a cruise, as we set sail towards Pulau Dayang, in Batanta with nothing but blue skies and adventure ahead.
For those feeling energetic, Dayang is home to a colourful reef teeming with macro-life including Pygmy Seahorses, Wobbegong Sharks, schooling Yellow Snapper and a cleaning station where you might have your potential first encounter with Manta Rays. For those unfamiliar with these curious giants, prepare for an extraordinary experience that is hard to beat.
If you would rather take it easy, and why not, it’s your holiday too, Batanta has a plethora of scenic bays in which to enjoy Raja Ampat snorkelling at its finest or set up a picnic and await the always special sunset as it comes alive with flocks of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Blyth’s Hornbills. A truly magical experience only witnessed when you cruise the Indonesian islands. Later we feast on a delicious supper and fantastic wines as we set sail to Misool.
So, what’s next?
Day 2 takes us to The Island of Misool, known as ‘The Last Paradise’, and is the second largest of the Four Kings with its waters home to some of the best diving in all of Raja Ampat. Some of the reefs found in the south-eastern archipelago are considered the best in the world.
When not exploring the wonders of the underwater world you may relax on board and take in the stunning surrounds with a glass of something cool. It’s your first full day on board and you might still be finding your sea-legs so it’s good to take it easy. Tomorrow is a new day as we head for Tomolol.
Your next adventure awaits:
After breakfast a day of exploration lies ahead as we discover Tomolol. A swim through the mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most engaging activities. This partially submerged cave invites you to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites.
The more adventurous can paddle through the dark waters to the other mouth of the Timolol cave. Witness skull cairns in sea-cave cemeteries and prehistoric ‘petroglyph’ cave paintings, estimated to be anything between 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures, human palms, fish, plants, and vessels.
In the afternoon, hike up to the less visited peaks in Raja Ampat, a heavily forested region. As you near the summit the thick green carpet of dense forest unravels to reveal an incredible landscape including the famous Love Lagoon.
Head back down for another eye-popping sunset over dinner and a glass of wine. Fam Islands will be our next destination.
Macro dreams and sandy bays…
Day 4 finds us in the Fam Islands, a macro dive mecca, made up of never-ending gardens of corals and its life within. Diving or snorkelling are most certainly the order of the day as you are greeted by dazzling colours and array of creatures, big and small.
One of the most popular dives is Batu Rufas, a towering limestone formation fringed by coral reef with a lagoon sitting just inside. There is a steep wall covered in sea fans and giant barrel sponges that creates a beautiful drift dive as the current gently leads you along its border.
If you simply wish to take it easy the deserted sandy beaches will leave you feeling completely relaxed. You’ll sleep like a baby, dreaming of the next adventure in Painemo.
Discovering a different way of life…
It’s another day of exploration as we wake up in the extraordinary and rugged yet serene Painemo. After a hearty breakfast and a great coffee, we suggest taking the sea kayaks out to explore the natural and untouched beauty of the coastline before a hike up to the incredible viewpoints of the local peaks.
The sea-life is of course just as stunning as its neighbouring islands so take a moment to witness yet more coral gardens and the multi coloured fish that inhabit them.
After lunch we head to the small and beautiful island of Arborek, where the locals are famous for their unusual handicrafts made from sea pandan leaves. Extremely friendly, these people live as they have done for thousands of years like the other indigenous tribes of the region. Tomorrow, we head to the iconic Wayag.
We set sail early in the morning to Kawe so we can cross the equator underwater while you snorkel or dive surrounded by magnificent Giant Manta Rays, truly a once in a lifetime experience.
After a hearty breakfast we might hop onto shore to hike to the peak of Wayag and discover the surreal conical shaped Karst Islands scattered across the emerald waters. It’s a postcard moment so don’t forget your camera!
Later, we sail to Aljui Bay to visit the Atlas Pearl Farm, a far- flung yet gorgeous location where some of the world’s best South Sea pearls are to be found. Tour the farm and learn more about these natural wonders.
Head back on board and enjoy a deep and comfortable sleep before we head to Wofoh.
Black Forest Fantasy…
Wofoh consists of two island gems linked together by stretches of coral reef where the beaches are pure white and palm trees outline the sand. Picture-perfect from above and covered in pure vegetation, Wofoh’s real charm lies beneath the ocean. At the dive site known as the Black Forest, you can see the most extensive variety of sea fans in a veritable underwater jungle.
On the west side of Wofoh Island, there is a coral wall dive that descends 40 meters into the depths of the clear water. Here, you will see a colourful array of hard and soft corals, schools of surgeonfish, yellow-fin barracuda, and if you’re lucky, unicorn fish!
For macro photographers, there are plenty nudibranchs to be seen. Other species while diving include Hawksbill turtles, crocodile fish, barramundi, cuttlefish, and pygmy seahorses.
After an incredible day underwater, we set sail for Mioskon.
Majesty above and below…
After a day of exploration, the divers in the group will be chomping to get back in the water and Mioskon is one of the destinations they will have been waiting for. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful dive sites in the region. On a gentle slope down to 25 meters and along a coral reef, life abounds and springs up from everywhere. Observe a wide variety of tropical and pelagic fish: fusiliers, jacks, groupers, moray eels, humpback parrot fish, pagoda fish, pygmy seahorses and not forgetting the star guest of the site, the Wobbegong Shark! King of camouflage, this rare species is endemic to the region.
During a refuelling lunch we sail to Friwinbonda and go for a hike in the jungle. The island is veritable hot spot of life, home to earth’s three most biologically diverse eco-systems, rainforest, reef and mangroves. Hornbills, sea-eagles and parrots fly overhead as we discover this paradise before heading back to the boat for sunset.
A perfect end to a perfect trip…
A day of two halves awaits as we wake in the picturesque Pulau Pef. Take a nutritious breakfast after a morning yoga session before kayaking in the crystal-clear lagoons that surround you. The mangroves here are unique in that the water remains crystal clear revealing an intriguing underwater habitat for its inhabitants.
After lunch we sail to Yangefo to dive in with turtles, stingrays and giant schools of snapper and fusiliers before enjoying a delicious dinner back on board.
The day ends with a delectable dinner as we start look back on an incredible and unforgettable journey that you will talk about for years to come.
Back to reality…
It’s an emotional last breakfast on board as we reflect on the trip of a lifetime and say goodbye to the ship and her crew before we escort you back to the airport with memories that will most certainly last a lifetime. It’s time to start planning the next adventure!
So, if you are looking for a luxury cruise in Indonesia, maybe a Raja Ampat liveaboard is the experience for you.
Raja Ampat Itinerary 10 Days – 9 Nights
THE RICHEST CORAL REEFS ON EARTH
Raja Ampat is notorious for the Jurassic-like beauty of its cays and shoals embracing over 1,500 rambling islands set like rough jewels in a cerulean sea. Located off the northwest tip of the island of New Guinea, and part of the Indonesian West Papua Province, you can explore prehistoric caves, visit ancient tribes, kayak around virgin coastlines, and discover dive sites famed for having the most species recorded on a single dive. The romance of this far-flung region is embodied by the history of its fairytale name which literally translates as ‘four kings’. Local mythology tells of a woman who finds seven mysterious eggs. Immediately after that, four of these hatches become kings who reign over Raja Ampat’s biggest islands Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta, and Misool. The other three are not so lucky and become a ghost, a woman, and a stone.
You will be picked up in style by our staff offering oshibori and refreshing mineral water, from the airport in Sorong and taken directly to the harbor to board. Today we set sail towards Mioskon, which teases guests with a flavor of all the delights that await in Raja Ampat including blue skies, pristine pellucid oceans, and some of the best diving on earth.
Relax on the sun deck, cooled by the gentle sea breeze, or recline on the day bed with a good book. Lie back and embrace the freedom of the ocean and enjoy the panorama. Today is all about finding your sea legs.
You will be met at Sorong airport by the yacht’s crew and transferred to the harbor, a 20-minute drive. Once you have settled in on board, the yacht will depart Sorong and begin the cruise to the islands of Raja Ampat while you enjoy lunch on deck.
Enjoy the day around Pulau Dayang in the northwest of Batanta, which is just at the entrance to one of Batanta’s many scenic bays, perfect for a beach set-up and water activities.
Dayang also offers a colorful reef with Wobbegong Sharks, schooling Yellow Snappers, and great macro-life, including Pygmy Seahorses and unusual Nudibranchs. Dayang island also offers a great chance to encounter Manta rays, the gentle giants, at their cleaning stations. Sunsets and sunrises are very special at our mooring point on north Batanta: as the sun drops, the surrounding forested hills become alive with flocks of Sulphur Crested Cockatoo and Blyth’s Hornbills emerge to return to their roosting place.
Embark from Misool Eco Resort for a wonderful voyage through Raja Ampat, also known as the last paradise. The island of Misool in Southern Raja Ampat is the second largest of the Four Kings and its surrounding waters has some of the best diving in all of Raja Ampat –
with several of the reefs in the south-eastern archipelagos so good, many consider them to be the best in the world!
Relax on the sun deck, cooled by the gentle sea breeze or recline on the day bed with a good book. Lie back and embrace the freedom of the ocean and enjoy the panorama. Today is all about finding your sealegs.
After breakfast, explore one of the stingless jellyfish lakes and use the paddleboards and kayaks to get into the serene atmosphere inside a cave connecting to the sea at Tomolol.
In the afternoon, hike up into the “wild territory” of less-visited peaks in Raja Ampat, which is in a heavily forested region. At a first sight, it reveals nothing but a thick green carpet of dense forests that reveals after a few minutes the famous Love Lagoon.
Enjoy the sunset magic from the beach while sipping a cocktail or a glass of wine.
Fam Islands group contains some of the most beautiful coral reefs in Raja Ampat. These remote reefs are bursting with color and life.
One of the hits of the day will be diving and snorkeling in the pristine waters and coral garden, this reef truly seems like a never-ending garden of soft and hard coral. Macro lovers will be delighted to observe the pygmy seahorses and a wide variety of nudibranchs, while the luckiest ones might spot the wobbegongs and reef sharks.
Breathtakingly beautiful from above and below, Batu Rufas is another favorite Fam Islands dive. This is a towering limestone formation fringed by a coral reef and a lagoon inside. There is a steep wall covered with soft and hard corals, sea fans, and giant barrel sponges. Drift diving here is like watching a beautiful carousel of colors gliding by.
One might prefer to relax on deserted sandy beaches, where beautiful snorkeling is just a few meters offshore.
After a great breakfast and good coffee take to the shores to explore the rugged coastline on kayaks and appreciate the unspoiled natural beauty of the extraordinary landscapeof Painemo. Hike to extraordinary viewpoints and find a tropical serenity. Alternatively, explore the endless beauty below the surface, swim through coral gardens and wonder at the spectacular array of multicoloured fish.
Later, cruise to the small yet beautiful island of Arborek. The local people here are very welcoming and industrious, creating unusual handicrafts from sea pandan leaves. They live as they have done for thousands of years and are just one of many indigenous tribes within the region.
We set sail early in the morning to Kawe so we can cross the equator underwater while you snorkel or dive surrounded by magnificent Giant Manta Rays. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Later, we sailed to Aljui Bay. Here we visit the Atlas Pearl Farm, a farflung yet gorgeous location where some of the world’s best South Sea pearls are to be found. Tour the farm and learn more about these natural wonders. Loose pearls and jewels are available as prized mementos.
Here, two islands are connected by a shallow reef, which makes for a wonderful spot for beachcombing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. The west coast of Wofoh is also home to one of the most beautiful coral walls in the area, plunging into clear blue water depths with a mixture of soft corals, hard corals, and barrel sponges. Schooling surgeonfish and barracuda can be spotted here as well as the elusive unicornfish.
Enjoy the flavor of the delights of the area including blue skies, pristine pellucid oceans, and some of the best diving in the world in Mioskon, which means ‘sitting island’ in the local language. The dive site is a great spot to find wobbegong sharks lounging in the sand. Blacktip reef sharks and large schools of fish also make their home here.
During lunch, move to Friwinbonda and hike in the jungle before sunset for bird watching. This region is a veritable hotspot of life, with the top three most biologically diverse ecosystem types on the planet (rainforests, reefs, and mangroves) all converging in this one place. Hornbills, sea eagles and parrots fly directly above us as we explore the island.
Wake up in the idyllic destination of Pulau Pef and take breakfast alfresco on the main deck after an early morning yoga class. Pulau Pef’s small inlets, bays, and crystal-clear lagoons make it perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding.
The water’s edge is surrounded by ancient mangrove trees, these are unusual as the water here is not murky at all revealing a vast underwater system of gnarled roots and aquatic life. Marvel at prehistoric hand paintings on the limestone cliffs. Snorkel or dive caverns and overhangs, spot hard and soft corals, and keep an eye out for pygmy seahorses and the rare endemic walking shark.
After lunch, sail to Yangefo to dive or snorkel with turtles, stingrays, and schools of snapper and fusilier fish. Enjoy dinner followed by a trip to the one and only cinema under the stars before retiring to your comfortable cabin. We set sail to Sorong overnight.
After a final breakfast on board, bid farewell to the ship and her crew as the tenders deliver you back to port for a transfer to the airport.