When you love amazing white beaches, you have to go to Raja Ampat. It’s even more amazing for people who go crazy with seeing big colourful fish and coral. There is no other place in the world with such a stunning marine diversity and beautiful coral reefs like Raja Ampat, it’s a paradise for snorkelers and divers. For those who are desperate to see a shark, you stumble over it!
Will it take a big bite out of your wallet? No!
It’s on the list of many people, because it’s a heaven on earth. Not many people go there, because of the rumour that a visit to Raja Ampat will take a big bite out of your wallet. Times are changing and probably the Lonely Planet didn’t visit the place for their last edition. According to Lonely Planet it’s beautiful and it offers one of the best marine sights (all correct), but only affordable for those with a big wallet (not true). A budget guesthouse on Pulau Kri will cost 15 euro a person a day, including 3 meals. This should be acceptable for every traveller. The food was not spectacular; a little favourless, but it did the job. Our cottage had a leaking roof; but it was not problem. With a poncho fixed over the bed, it was all solved. Another couple put their tent in the cottage, also an option. There are guesthouses with better cottages, but you will pay more off course. The Island is small, so you can easily hop from guesthouse to guesthouse. Snorkelling and diving trips can be arranged at the homestay; almost every homestay has their own diving school. We stayed at Homestay Koranu Fyak, another one with a good diving school is Homestay Tenkoranu. For a snorkelling trip you will pay around 6 euro and for a dive 25 euro. While we stayed at Pulau Kri, we joined several trips. One of the best trips was to the Fam islands, even more paradise than Pulau Kri. We really didn’t thought that was possible.
The dive and snorkel paradise
You don’t have to dive to see and experience all the beauty under the subsurface. While we like diving, snorkelling is most times our favourite. It’s a cheap and easy option, it’s less of a hassle and with snorkelling we stayed longer in the water and often spotted more! Currents can be strong at Raja Ampat, be aware of this. Divers getting separated from the rest of the group is more the rule rather than an exception. From your homestay you can walk directly into the water. We snorkelled every day along the reef, enjoying al the black and white tip reef sharks that passed by. If you don’t see a shark during a dive or snorkel, you probably need glasses. If you’re really unlucky, because you were looking for a long time to this oh so nice clown fish (Nemo), no worry; there is a place where you can easily spot 6 sharks in a couple of seconds. How does it work? We advise you to swim towards the half collapsed jetty in front of the Homestay Yenkoranu, in the afternoon fish trash is often thrown from the jetty into the water. If it is low tide and you do not want to cut yourself on coral so you decide to climb out at the jetty. Not a bad idea, you might think. On the jetty two men are busy with a wheelbarrow. It’s almost surreal to see them repairing the jetty, and it’s so unlike the rest of Indonesia where nothing is maintained. Delighted by this work ethos, which makes you think of the Netherlands, you swim towards the stairs of the jetty. The snorkelling gets better and better, in the last minute just before you reach the jetty you see a lionfish, some turtles and a few sharks. At about 5 meters from the stairs you notice a lot of sharks pass and speed towards chunks of fish. A feeding frenzy takes place in front of your eyes, it feels like being in the middle of a National Geographic shot. The fish is thrown in the water from the stairs, the spot where you want to go out, which is far from ideal. Sharks are always portrayed in the media as men eating monsters, well that’s ridiculous but swimming through a feeding frenzy is not preferable. We hid behind the poles of the jetty before realizing that climbing out at the side was a better option.
Manta’s and more!
Manta’s are easily being spot at Raja Ampat. Near Pulau Kri you have a snorkel/dive spot called ‘Manta Point’. When we visited this spot were lucky to see a lot off Manta’s and surprisingly snorkelling was much nicer than diving, as the manta’s were at the surface all the time. For the dive enthusiast, you will go down to the bottom and watch the Manta’s stop at their cleaning station. Manta Point is great, but it’s even better when you start snorkelling in front of your homestay and you are the lucky one to see one big Manta passing by. When you are all alone in the water you will feel very small, but it’s an magnificent sight and an experience you will never forget! If you are lucky you can spot dolphins or manta’s jumping out of the water. We saw dolphins and jumping manta’s during our trip to the Fam islands. But the most incredible about the marine life in Raja Ampat is that all the fish and schools are bigger and the coral is extremely colourful.
How do you get to Pulau Kri?
You can fly to Sorong in Papua province and take the ferry to Wasai. This ferry leaves every day in the early afternoon and sometimes in the morning. It’s good to make a reservation for one of the homestays on Pulau Kri, via sms with an Indonesian number. There are not that many homestays, so by making a reservation you are sure you have a roof at paradise and secondly by making a reservation your homestay will pick you up from Wasai, as there is no public transport to Pulau Kri. When you stay for a minimum of 5 days, your pick up will be free.
Would you like to see even bigger fish (the whale shark), stay in Papua and go to Nabire.