Raja Ampat, which means “the Four Kings” in Bahasa Indonesia, is an archipelago comprising more than 1,500 small islands, with breathtaking seascapes and world-class diving. It also has many places to rest after a day of exploring. Here’s our pick – bookable with Culture Trip.
As part of the Coral Triangle – internationally renowned for its rich biodiversity – Raja Ampat is where you’ll find hard and soft corals and encounter marine creatures such as manta rays, hammerhead sharks, seahorses and more. With so much beauty on offer, it’s no wonder the area attracts legions of dive enthusiasts every year. Here are some of the best places to relax and recuperate after an exciting day spent underwater.
With its strategic location on Mansuar Island – surrounded by sparkling, coral-rich waters – this lodge is the ideal base for exploring the top dive sites in northern Raja Ampat. There’s Manta Ridge, a popular cleaning station for the majestic manta rays, as well as Sardine Reef and Cape Kri, both of which attract large schools of fish. After an exhilarating day spent underwater, unwind in one of the lodge’s spacious, comfortable rooms, or visit one of the on-site dining areas, serving a selection of international and Indonesian favourites.
If you love scuba diving, you’ll be in heaven here. This PADI five-star resort offers all-inclusive packages that include accommodation, daily breakfast and several dives. Choose from two different types of accommodation – at the resort or a homestay. The latter is a more affordable option for those who like interacting with local communities while on holiday. If you’d rather have all the creature comforts, the resort option allows you to enjoy spacious, air-conditioned rooms with plush beds decked out with Italian linens.
Right on the pristine coastline, this Italian-owned resort comprises 15 timber cottages, each tastefully decorated with artwork and sculptures made locally in Papua. There are between two and four dives organised each day, with each group never exceeding more than four divers, so if you’re a nervous diver, you can be assured that you’ll get extra attention from the divemaster. Back at the resort, tuck into delicious Indonesian and Italian cuisine, or sign up for an excursion to the picturesque Batanta Waterfall or the Passage – a plankton-rich tropical river that flows between the islands of Gam and Waigeo.
Sitting on Waigeo – the largest island in Raja Ampat – the Waiwo Dive Resort is set within a leafy jungle that opens up to a pristine white-sand beach. While the wooden bungalows are relatively small, each one is clean and comfortable and includes modern conveniences such as air conditioning, a coffee maker and a king-size bed. After exploring the rich and varied marine life, take a wander around the resort and see if you can spot the crimson-plumed red bird-of-paradise or the bashful Indonesian cuscus bear.
The magnificent Papua Paradise Eco Resort gives you access to house reefs that are always lively with exotic species such as manta rays, dugongs, reef sharks and more. Swim about the colourful, thriving coral, which is just a plunge away from your bungalow. Even better, the strategic location puts you less than 20 minutes away from nearby dive spots. Blissful views abound even when you’re not underwater, from the sparkling blue ocean to the breathtaking sunset, all visible from the comfort of your private veranda.
If you’re looking for a dreamy location, an authentic experience and friendly service, book a stay at the Raja Ampat Biodiversity Nature Resort, sitting in one of the coolest neighbourhoods on Gam Island – a small and remote isle known for its idyllic coastline. Sandwiched between a jungle and a pristine beach, it has a mix of traditional-style cottages. All of the food served at the beachside restaurant is locally sourced, and there are many vegan and vegetarian options. There are some magnificent dive sites nearby, and the area is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Staying in a private villa at the Cove Eco Resort will give you the delightful impression of having an island of your own. It occupies the shores of the small, remote island of Yeben, also known as Mirror Ocean, and it takes less than 10 minutes by boat to reach popular sightseeing spots above and below the sea, including the famed Pianemo Island and many dive sites. If you feel like being lazy, enjoy the beachfront loungers.
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Wake up to the sound of waves lapping on the shore at this dreamy eco-resort, fringed by powdery-soft beaches and coral reefs. With a capacity of just 40 guests, this place offers an intimate experience. The villas, built of reclaimed tropical hardwoods, are either on stilts above the water or nestled among lush foliage. Inside, they feature Balinese-style open-air bathrooms, walls fans, air conditioners, fully stocked mini-bars and handcrafted furniture. Amenities include a spa, a restaurant serving Asian and international cuisine and a dive centre.
Kordiris is a well-organised homestay run by the local community. That means you’ll get an authentic local experience, stunning views of the water right outside your door and three meals a day, and you get it all at an affordable price while directly helping the local economy. It has seven overwater bungalows, each with a private balcony and a hammock to laze the day away or relax in after an adventure-packed day.
Go back to the basics at this pared-back resort featuring six overwater wooden guesthouses built on stilts. Each one faces west and comes with a private balcony so that you can enjoy mesmerising sunsets every evening. HamuEco Dive Resort also offers beach villa rooms, which are more spacious. During the day, hop on a boat to explore the dive sites around the islands of Kri and Mansuar, or book yourself a hiking trip or canoeing expedition. You can also take a 15-minute boat ride to the Waisai Local Market, where you’ll find a delectable array of Indonesian and Papuan delicacies.
You’ll leave as a friend at this welcoming dive resort. The kind managers of Papua Explorers are passionate divers who are also knowledgeable about the wildlife species in the area and where you can find them. As for accommodation, 15 overwater bungalows blend traditional Papuan style with the comfort of modern design. Along with diving, there are birdwatching tours and visits to local villages.
If you’re interested in more than Raja Ampat’s mesmerising underwater scenery, you can fully immerse yourself in local life at PapuArts Alter-Native Stay. The traditionally built homestay offers just enough to be comfortable while keeping sustainability and closeness with nature in mind. It sits between the sea and jungle, allowing you to enjoy the ambience of both environments. The owners go all out to incorporate Papuan traditions and culture into your stay, be it through philosophy, building construction or programmes such as traditional craft workshops.
There’s good news for backpackers and solo travellers – Raja Ampat finally has a charming but affordable hostel. A glance at the tastefully decorated shared rooms will convince you that the low price tag doesn’t mean uncomfortable. The bunk beds, shared living room and even the bathrooms are clean and cosy, with an earthy but modern feel. There’s a restaurant and bar, and wifi runs throughout the hostel. Popular with foreign tourists, it’s a great place to meet people of all nationalities and make some new travel buddies.