The Raja Ampat Islands are located off the tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula, on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesian’s West Papua Province. The four main islands are Batanta, Misool, Salawati and Waigeo, but this tropical archipelago is made up of more than 1000 paradise islands.
With steep islands covered in dense jungle, luscious white-sand beaches, secret lagoons and picturesque blue waters, Raja Ampat must be one of the most beautiful island chains in Southeast Asia!
Raja Ampat is the ‘Holy Grail’ for divers, having the highest marine biodiversity in the world. The average reef in Raja Ampat has more than ten times the species found throughout the entire Caribbean.
The reefs of Raja Ampat are home to over 1400 species of reef fish, over 600 species of molluscs and 5 species of turtles. With amazing underwater topography, and nutrient rich currents, it’s very common to see many shark species and both oceanic (Manta birostris) and reef (Manta alfredi) manta rays. These cerulean blue waters also host at least 15 different species of marine mammals, from the famous killer whale (Orcinus orca), to the docile dugong (Dugong dugon).
‘There is absolutely nothing else that compares! Our surveys reveal that this region is the richest on the planet for reef fishes. The Raja Ampat islands are situated in the midst of a ‘biological crossroad’ and the result of this is a lavishly rich reef fish fauna that has no equal’ – Dr Gerald Allen, world renowned fish expert.
Many compare diving in the Raja Ampat Islands to diving in a tropical aquarium, but there just isn’t a tropical aquarium that even compares. The diversity and abundance of species in this biological hotspot are so numerous; the coral reefs here replenish systems throughout Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.
In the past many locals used destructive fishing techniques to catch huge amount of fish. Cyanide and dynamite fishing destroy coral species and kill many species living in and around the blast site. The damage done can still be seen on some dives today. Nowadays, Raja Ampat has a network of seven large marine parks, meaning strict regulations on fishing techniques have been established.
Whether you want to dive in gigantic schools of fish, come face to face with sharks, or be surrounded by barrel-rolling manta rays, every dive in Raja Ampat is a sensory overload!