Top 10 Things to See and Do in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat | © Elias Levy/Flickr
Edira Putri

Raja Ampat deserves its worldwide hype as an exotic tropical paradise. About 75% of all coral species in the world and thousands more species of fish, mollusks, plants, and birds find a home deep under the clear blue waters, in the quiet lagoon between the karst constellations, and up in the picturesque hills and jungles. Discover the top things to see and do in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

1. Explore Waisai

First things first: you flew all the way to Raja Ampat to enjoy tropical marine adventures and that’s exactly what you can do from the moment you arrive. Waisai is the gateway to paradise, and a main hub for the whole archipelago. But it offers more than just busy ports with boats moving to and fro the 1,000+ islands. Waisai has several diving and sightseeing spots, including the translucent Waiwo, a beach that got much of its fame from featuring on president Joko Widodo’s Instagram feed.

Waisai, Raja Ampat Regency, West Papua, Indonesia

2. Sightseeing and more at Pianemo Island

Natural Feature

2. Sightseeing and more at Pianemo Island
© Vaclav Sebek / Shutterstock
Small islands scattered in clear blue ocean is what most likely comes to mind when avid travelers hear the name Raja Ampat. Pianemo Island has a viewing deck on a hilltop, granting unrestricted views over the sea and islands. Although the scenery is enough reason to visit Pianemo Island, cliff jumping into the turquoise lagoon between the small islands and swimming in its crystal clear water are other awesome activities you can enjoy here.

Take a Dive Course

Whether you’re an advanced diver or an absolute beginner, taking diving courses in Raja Ampat is an opportunity not to be missed. You’ll have Raja Ampat’s staggering underwater landscape as your training ground and go home with a legit certificate. PADI and SSI, the two largest scuba diver certification companies in the world, have set up camp in this diving paradise, so you’ll be in good hands. Plus, taking a course will help you appreciate Raja Ampat’s unparalleled underwater beauty better.

Diving at Raja Ampat

Observe wildlife in the forest

Not that you’ll ever get enough of the water adventures in Raja Ampat, but the land of its many islands also offer wonderful scenery and encounters with wildlife. Pristine Raja Ampat is home to many endemic species, including rare plants and exotic birds. The main highlight of bird watching in the forests of Raja Ampat is the exquisite birds of paradise.

Raja Ampat’s lush forest

Don’t miss a single sunset (or sunrise!)

There are many different spots from which to watch the sun set or rise. Hike up to a hill, chill by your lodge or sit on the smooth white sands and wait for the sun to burst into many shades of red and orange. A good reason to skip the snooze button on Raja Ampat and get up early.

Sunset in Raja Ampat

3. See the Wayag Archipelago

The islands of Wayag, within the Raja Ampat archipelago, come with raw natural beauty. Many consider Wayag the most beautiful place in Raja Ampat. It’s dense with picturesque karst formations, including some big protrusions that can be hiked up for sweeping views of the stunning islands. The green of the islands meets the tranquil blue and emerald water, underneath the surface of which colorful fish swim through beautiful coral reefs.

Wayag archipelago | © Elias Levy/Flickr

4. Swim with marine creatures

The people of Papua highly respect their marine wildlife, enabling a peaceful and productive co-existence that tourists can also enjoy. On Misool Island and Manta Ridge you are almost guaranteed an encounter with dolphins, among other fish. Sea turtles are somewhat more common, and a deeper dive will allow you to see many manta rays.

Diving in Raja Ampat | © Ratha Grimes/Flickr

Wander the villages

Don’t leave the islands before walking through the villages and meeting the friendly locals. Their lifestyle is humble, and the people are cheerful. You may find children playing traditional games, a group singing traditional songs and dancing, or local artists working on their crafts.

Star-shaped lagoon between small islands at Raja Ampat

Shop for souvenirs

Raja Ampat’s culture is as beautiful as its nature. You can shop for local crafts such as accessories, bags, plates, and other souvenirs. Shopping for souvenirs in the local markets not only gets you authentic stuff to take home, but also helps sustain the life of locals and the overall tourism scene.

Feast on local food

Complete your Raja Ampat experience with delicious local cuisine. Fresh seafood is abundant, and papeda (sago starch porridge) and savory yellow fish soup are popular in Papua. If you’re feeling less adventurous, you can always order grilled fish with spicy condiments. The bigger towns may also have restaurants serving other Indonesian specialties.

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