Words are not enough to describe the magnificent Raja Ampat (Four Kings), in West Papua, Indonesia. Known for its richness in sea biodiversity, this place has been one of the most popular diving sites in the world, let alone Indonesia. Moreover, this exotic place is dubbed as the last paradise on Earth.
Historically, Raja Ampat in the 15th century was part of Tidore Sultanate, a kingdom in now called North Maluku province. In order to carry on his duty, he appointed four local kings to rule in the major islands; Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. That is the origin of the name we know nowadays.
Now the question is, how to get to this dazzling archipelago? You can fly to Jakarta or Bali before you continue your trip to Sorong via Makassar and Manado. Connecting flights from Makassar or Manado to Sorong are offered by most of Indonesian airlines. To get to the islands from Sorong, you can get there by Marina Express boat, Ave Maria boat or speed boat chartering from the Pelabuhan Rakyat. Marina Express Ferry departs at 2.00 pm local time and the Ave Maria usually leaves 1-2 hours thereafter.
As told previously, this group of islands boasts marine diversity. No wonder many say that this wonderful island is the last paradise for divers. The waters of Raja Ampat is home to 603 coral species, representing 75 percent of the total coral reefs in the world. Not only fish, there are a lot of wonderful fish underwater. It is estimated that this island has around 1.397 fish species. Other sea species are also can be found here, ranging from crayfish to snails or others that you have never imagines before.
The incredible collection of underwater treasures (as well as marvellous bird species on land) encourages Indonesia to propose to UNESCO for the nomination of Raja Ampat as one of the World Heritage Site. Local people as well as tourists are encouraged to participate in preserving the biodiversity of this place, such as not to litter, disturb and take any living things as souvenirs.
For non-divers, you still can enjoy the beauty of this paradise as there are various tour packages arranged for both divers and non-divers. Make sure you get a permit from Papua Police Station before going to the diving sites. You must bring your passport with three copies of the passport page with Indonesian visa.
Needless to say, there are a lot of things you can do here. Underwater photography is something you cannot miss here as you will be mesmerized by wonderful species. If you go diving in Salawati Island, for example, you will see the striking, colorful fish species, known as Melanotaenia Salawati. The body of this fish is incredibly beautiful, purple on the back and violet purple in hipural tails. You cannot miss going diving in Salawati Island as this island is one of the major islands in this group of islands.
Diving in Salawati Island is one of the most fascinating experience you can have while visiting this place. There are many sites you can visit and cultural attractions you cannot ignore. Hope you enjoy your summer holiday in the ‘Last Paradise on Earth’.