Journey to the Coral Triangle

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

is home to some of the most beautiful islands on the planet. There’s spectacular snorkelling, diving, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Although I would like to keep this magical place a secret it’s hard not to share!   

Isn’t it time you explored this secret place of paradise?

Pondoks at Papua Explorers

I feel truly blessed to have experienced such a place like Raja Ampat. Riding up in the boat to Papua Explorers made me so emotional, (yes I had tears in my eyes) looking at how stunning this place is. The Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat lies in the Coral Triangle, which stretches from The Philippines to Timor to Papua New Guinea, known as the most bio diverse marine habitat on earth.

I met a friend (Ross) in England who was a dive master in Raja Ampat. Ross talked about how amazing this place was and how you wouldn’t experience anything like it. I had never even heard of Raja Ampat before he spoke of it, it sounded so far away and difficult to get to. As he scanned through some of his pictures I couldn’t help but feel envious. Bright coloured corals that look like a Walt Disney animation, stunning islands like green mushrooms plotted around with the most beautiful bright turquoise colour water, flowing calmly  in between. I knew I just had to go and visit….

so the research began….

Firstly I had a look at some maps to plan my route. I knew I had to fly from England to Jakarta for my international flight but then I needed to get to the island of Sorong. How would I get to Sorong? I really did struggle but eventually found a very useful website. I got in touch with a very helpful man called Chris who helped me book my domestic flights. My route was: Jakarta – Makassar – Ambon – Sorong. I was so grateful for Chris’s help especially when the airline canceled my flight (twice) Chris always emailed me with updates and alternative times. He sorted all the problems.

It really is a long trip even after our international flight, two domestic flights you then have a boat waiting in Sorong to take you on a two hour boat ride to the island, of Papua Explorers. We left England on Monday and got to our destination on Wednesday. When I say it was worth it I honestly mean it from the bottom of my heart. Raja Ampat has such a peaceful vibe, it’s so untouched. During our boat ride to Papua Explorers I was so tired and had fallen asleep. I was woken up by one of the staff members, “come and look outside” I stumbled to the front of the boat. Wow! there was a pod of Dolphins all around us! I felt like I was dreaming. The ocean so calm even though it was heading towards sunset, the water was like a lake and all you could hear were these Dolphins playing. (Check them out in my video of Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat)

Finally we arrived in Papua Explorers Resort. We were greeted by a couple of the owners Tunc, Selen (genuinely love these people)

Tunc and his adorable wife Selen

and also Lynn, a freediving/Yoga Teacher  who led us to our water bungalow (Pondok no.8).

Lynn and I

 

Entrance to Pondok 8

Wow!! It was so beautiful!

Inside Pondok 8

Traditional Papuan style with the comfort of modern design features. The Pondoks are built by using local, natural materials collected from the surrounding villages.

Spacious veranda

 

The Pondoks have a spacious veranda with direct access to the sea. I love the way the staff are so kind to the environment and it really shows.

View from our pondok window

 

Our back garden

 

Our front veranda with a chill out hammock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are not divers so I was a bit worried about coming to Raja Ampat only for that reason. I soon realised I had nothing to worry about as there is so much to see and do as a snorkeler.
The diving and snorkelling in Raja Ampat is said to be among the best in the world with over 1,400 species of fish enjoying its reef. It’s often top of peoples scuba bucket lists!

Some of the colourful coral in Raja Ampat
House reef (stunning!)

We did do a free-diving course with the lovely Lynn, who I mentioned before. This was an amazing experience. To be able to control your breath hold and swim so freely with the marine life is out of this world. Lynn is such an inspiration, so calming and superb. I’m so grateful to have met her.  I have done scuba dives in the past and I did enjoy it but all the gear that divers use is not appealing to me. I found the bubbles from your regulator scare away the fish too. Being able to free-dive made me feel like a mermaid, I love getting up close and swimming along side the fish.

On my way down to the depths

I made friends with the fish on our house reef after leaping off my veranda several times a day to snorkel. My favourite were the clownfish hiding in the tentacles of an anemone.

Clown fish protecting their anemone

On day trips to neighboring islands it is rare to see another boat, let alone another traveler. You feel so special to be in such a beautiful place without the hustle and bustle of tourists. One of our trips allowed us to swim through huge caves. They had beams of light shining through that looked stunning. We would exit by duck diving under a rock into an aquamarine lagoon.

One of many caves

One of the dive managers, Hakim (awesome, lovely and so very professional) came with us on his day off.

Hakim, Dive Master/Manager

The family at Papua Explorers are so kind, knowledgeable and made us feel so welcome. Lovely Tari, (PE joint partner) would often sit with us during dinner and we would all talk about our day.

Tari and her wonderful daughter (on the right) next to Tari (left side) Selen’s mother and the gang

Above the ground exotic birds call to each other, just the most beautiful sounds. I wish I could wake up to these sounds every morning. Birds chirp in melodious choruses, they welcome the daybreak with a song befitting of angels, a song that rings with the joy of the new dawn. Gigantic colourful butterflies flutter by, and hermit crabs wondering along the sand.

Baby bright yellow butterflies

A visit to Arborek really is a must! The island is open to tourism with kids greeting visitors with traditional dances and a tour of the village.

Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Raja Ampat?

Prices will vary, but here’s a rough guide:

Return flights from Jakarta to Sorong: £200.
Taxi from Sorong Airport to Sorong Harbour: IDR 100,000 (£6.20) we got picked up by PE
Raja Ampat visitor permit fee for international visitors: IDR 1,000,000 (£62.64).
Express ferry tickets: IDR 130,000 (£8.14) for economy class or IDR 220,000 (£13.78) for a VIP ticket. We were picked up directly from Sorong by PE
Travel costs (excluding food & extra activities): £282.62 ($353 USD or IDR 4,622,228)

We stayed at Papua Explorers and absolutely LOVED it! I highly recommend this place.

I have put together a video of our adventure to Raja Ampat. Please check it out. Trying to cut down a months’ worth of action into just 16 minutes wasn’t easy.

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Enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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