November 1, 2018 • Travel Ideas
Located at the heart of the Coral Triangle region, Raja Ampat, Indonesia is home to some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world. It is also home to some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving, which is best enjoyed via liveaboard trips that generally range from one to two weeks in length.
The breathtaking landscape of Raja Ampat’s “Secret Bay.” © Wayne Sentman
Raja Ampat is a remote archipelago in eastern Indonesia that consists of more than 2,500 small islands and reefs off of the northwestern tip of the island of New Guinea. There are four large, mountainous islands in Raja Ampat—Batanta, Misool, Salawati, and Waigeo—for which the archipelago is named; Raja Ampat means “Four Kings” in Bahasa Indonesia (raja = king, and ampat [or empat] = four). The archipelago encompasses approximately 43,000 square kilometers of land and sea, and is sparsely populated, with most islands being uninhabited.
Raja Ampat (as well as the nearby Savu and Banda Seas) is home to some of the world’s highest marine biodiversity, a fact that was only discovered by scientists within the past 15 years. Since then, Raja Ampat has become the focus of extensive research and conservation efforts by international and local organizations, and a hotspot for snorkel and dive tourism. Today, much of Raja Ampat is protected as part of the Raja Ampat Marine Protected Area network of seven protected areas that cover 1,185,940 hectares (2,930,522 acres).
A colorful reef in Raja Ampat shows the incredible diversity of life found here. © Pete Oxford
New species are still being discovered regularly in Raja Ampat, adding to the already impressive totals—more than 1,400 fish species and 550+ species of reef building corals (75% of the world’s coral species) are found here, as well as 17 species of marine mammals, 25 species of mangrove, and other iconic species such as whale sharks, sea turtles, walking sharks, and manta rays.
The islands—many of which are made of rugged, sharp limestone karst —are also home to a number of indigenous and traditional human communities, as well as lush forests, rare plants, and endemic birds (including Wilson’s and Red Birds of Paradise).
A passenger sits on the bow of a liveaboard ship in Raja Ampat. © Pete Oxford
Raja Ampat is home to some of the world’s best snorkeling, with an abundance of pristine, shallow reefs, diverse habitats, good visibility, and warm water temperatures. The best way to snorkel or scuba dive in Raja Ampat is aboard a liveaboard cruise, which will allow you to visit a variety of habitats, to maximize your time in the water and minimize time in transit, and to be flexible to local weather conditions and other factors when choosing daily snorkel or dive sites.
The best way to snorkel or scuba dive in Raja Ampat is aboard a liveaboard cruise, which will allow you to visit a variety of habitats, to maximize your time in the water and minimize time in transit, and to be flexible to local weather conditions and other factors when choosing daily snorkel or dive sites.
We have three liveaboard expeditions in Raja Ampat, Indonesia scheduled across multiple departure dates:
In addition, we are leading more and more special liveaboard expeditions to nearby areas of the Coral Triangle that contain equally high marine species diversity and offer comparable snorkeling, diving, and wildlife viewing to Raja Ampat. Current offerings include:
Diverse, shallow reefs like this lead to some of the world’s best snorkeling in Raja Ampat. © Pete Oxford