The area known as Raja Ampat (or the Four Kings) is an archipelago consisting of the islands of Misoool, Salawati, Batanta, and Wiageo which are surrounded by over 1,500 small islands and cays. Formerly known as Irian Jaya, this area is now part of the newly named West Papua province of Indonesia and is located on the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula, on the island of New Guinea.
Put simply, Raja Ampat could quite possibly be the best diving in the world. It certainly is the world's most biodiverse marine region with more recorded fish, coral and mollusk species than anywhere else on Earth.
According to the Conservation International Rapid Assessment Bulletin the marine life diversity for diving in Irian Jaya is considerably greater than all other areas sampled in the Coral Triangle. The Raja Ampat area is considered home to more than 1,000 fish species, 101 of which were previously unknown in Raja Ampat and four that are new to all of Indonesia. The variety of marine life can be staggering. Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs. In Mansuar, you may encounter large groups of manta rays and turtles. From the boat and often close to shore you may get the chance to don your snorkeling gear for some unforgettable interaction with resident
pods of dolphins or even some passing whales. Other highlights include the innumerable war wrecks, both ships and planes (with new wrecks being discovered constantly). The reefs of Raja Ampat are just as varied as the marine life. There are vertical walls, reef flats, slopes, sea mounts,
mucky mangroves, lagoons and pinnacles. The reefs are in pristine condition with miles of perfect hard corals and many varied colorful species of soft corals. The diving is predominantly drift dives due to the moderate prevalent currents in the area which provide nutrients for the myriad fish and coral. Currents are average to moderate and vary from none to very strong. Visibility is normally very good but can vary and is normally at its best earlier in theday so your pre-breakfast dives are
not to be slept through!
The pristine beauty of the area, both above and below the water is truly unrivalled. This success of area's staggering abundance of marine life can also be attributed to the areas incredibly low human population density. Its remote location and lack of infrastructure have inhibited the growth of tourism.
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 are remote 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 and hence why it is now a protected marine sanctuary.
Not many liveaboards dive the Raja Ampat area, making this adventure even more unique and special.
Raja Ampat photos