Beat the crowds: Raja Ampat
The concept of lounging around on a deserted island is becoming rarer as the world becomes more accessible and our curious nature takes us further afield. But if you’re going to find it anywhere, it will be in Raja Ampat, a remote but reputable area of Papau-Indonesia. It’s home an archipelago of 1,500 islands protruding from turquoise-green waters, each simply stunning in its natural beauty.
But it’s big draw is below sea level: based in ‘The Coral Triangle’, it’s one of the richest areas for unspoilt coral reefs and active marine life, with 1000 species of fish concentrated within its crystal-clear waters. No wonder it’s a bucket list spot for divers and snorkelers. If you’re looking for a dreamy tropical paradise and one-on-one time with mother nature, look no further.
Here’s the Citybond team's guide to seeing Raja Ampat before the secret is out.
Planning your trip
Raja Ampat might take a bit of preparation, especially as it’s far away. It’s off the coast of Sorong, Indonesia, and it needs a stopover; the Indonesian capital of Jarkata is the most convenient as it’s the international airport with the most frequent flights. You don’t need a visa if you’re staying for less than 30 days, but make sure you have your return flight booked, your passport is valid for at least six months, and you have empty pages in your passport. There’s no bad time to visit the area with year-round tropical temps, but the best diving conditions are found between November and March.
What to do
The main attraction is real-life aquarium that’s waiting for you beneath the surface of the Halmahera Sea. Many boat trips and liveaboard tours offer multiple snorkelling and diving trips every day, plus other watersports like kayaking and paddleboarding. But land-lovers will be content too: the uninhabited islands are ripe for exploring, and there’s a couple of well-worn hikes that offer a convenient path through the jungle. On many of the inhabited islands, visitors can meet the locals and see what life is like when you’re hundreds of miles from the nearest supermarket.
What to see
Finding Nemo has nothing on the underwater activity in Raja Ampat. It’s most famous for the vast schools of manta rays that come to the cleaning stations, but there’s also reef sharks, barracudas, batfish, giant clams, pygmy seahorses and other weird and wonderful sea creatures, all living within the diverse coral reefs. On the islands, wildlife includes bandicoots, the spotted cuscus and striped possums. Raja Ampat’s prize possession is the Red Bird of Paradise: rare in the world but abundant here. Finally, try to catch a high-up viewpoint during a hike – you’ll see the islands emerge from dazzlingly clear waters.
Where to stay
There are accommodation options on terra firma, from basic homestays with limited electricity and running water to decent dive centre resorts like Papau Explorers Resort, which offers accommodation, transfers, 3 dives a day and full board meals for £950 per week per person sharing. But if your sea legs are strong enough, a liveaboard is the way to stay. It means you’ll get to wake up in different parts of the Raja Ampat expanse and you’ll have different diving and snorkelling opportunities on tap. They range from £200 to £500 a night, but the experience certainly adds to the aquatic adventure.
What to eat
If you want an elaborate Michelin-star meal, there are other (less beautiful) places to find that. In Raja Ampat, the main source of food is fish, fish and more fish! You’ll find they’re accompanied by simple vegetables and rice for lunch and dinner. As a change, meals might also include chicken stew, and their homemade sweet and savoury dumplings are a treat to try. It might all sound basic, but think about it: it’s the fresh, local and seasonal ingredients we covet at home.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year, over the coming months, this winter, this summer etc….) it’s good to know that Citybond Suretravel is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.
From the 1st January 2021, Citybond Suretravel includes enhanced Covid-19 cover. This cover includes; Cover if you need to cancel you trip due to you or anyone named on your policy testing positive for Covid-19 in the 14 days prior to travel and Cover for medical expenses and repatriation due to contracting Covid-19 whilst abroad.
Please be aware - There is no cover on any of our policies if you travel against the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice, local government or local authority advice of the country you are travelling to or from, or World Health Organisation (WHO) advice or medical advice
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