Raja Ampat off the Eastern coast of the island of Papua is a really special place. It is one of those holiday destinations that everyone who has passed through Indonesia will have heard about.
The high cost of getting there and the even higher cost of staying there means that few tourists will ever make the journey, but as soon as you arrive you will understand the hype. There are literally hundreds of beautiful islands with unspoiled golden sandy beaches looking over pristine turquoise waters that ripple through every shade of blue.
Underneath the waves are some of the best coral reefs and diving to be experienced anywhere in the world, let alone Indonesia. If you arrive in December through to February you might have the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. Still, even if you don’t see a whale shark, there are dolphins and manta rays, turtles and other sharks to swim with, along with the smaller friendlier nemo’s.
As I said before, staying at a hotel in Raja Ampat will be expensive. At the top end resorts can cost anywhere upwards of $3,000 per person per week, but it is still possible to do Raja Ampat on the cheap. Week long tours will cost somewhere in the region of $1,000 plus flights, but you will need to arrange things with local tour operators or backpacking groups.
For good or bad, I know it is only a matter of time before Raja Ampat will be covered in hundreds of resorts and holiday homes. The changes are already happening and year on year the number of tourists are increasing. If you do want to experience this quiet outpost of Indonesia then you will have to be quick.