Join the Ombak Putih on this wonderful Indonesian round-trip voyage from the enchanting city of Sorong. Raja Ampat is home to 70 percent of the known coral species on the planet. Many of the fish, corals, and crustaceans that live in these waters are found nowhere else on Earth. Yet, while the below-surface world is reminiscent of a living kaleidoscope, the above-surface views are among the most stunning that you are likely to behold in a lifetime. Explore what is without a doubt one of the least visited but most memorable adventure-destinations on our planet. You do not need to be a diver to be able to experience this global epicenter of marine diversity. Nor do you need to be a seasoned birdwatcher to see and appreciate the dazzling birdlife that brought Alfred Russel Wallace to this region over a century ago.
Discover the picturesque islands that make up the Misool archipelago
Swim, snorkel, or float through a cavernous grotto with astonishing stalactites
Follow in Alfred Russel Wallace footsteps and spot red birds of paradise
Admire the natural splendor of Raja Ampat’s Wayag Islands
Your flight arrives in the West Papuan port town of Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat. From the airport transfer to the harbor where the ship is waiting at anchor. Once settled into your cabin, the cruise director shows you the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures. Ready to start your adventure, weigh anchor and set a southerly course for the Misool archipelago, stopping for a refreshing swim along the way. Then dine alfresco on the main deck while meeting the other passengers and crew and watching the sun set on your first day at sea.
This morning wake to see the sun rise over the picturesque chain of islands that makes up the Misool archipelago. The topography is typical of ‘karst dissolution,’ featuring a great number of tiny islets whose bases have been eroded over time by the relentless motion of the tides. Spend the day maximizing everything that this fascinating area has to offer by marveling at both the marine wonderland under the water and the magnificent landscape above the surface. Test out your paddling skills in the sea kayaks, watch for birds perched on the rocks, or just sit back and take in the glorious scenery. After a full day of island hopping through this archipelago, spend the night at anchor in Misool’s Tomolol Bay.
Swimming through Tomolol’s mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After an early breakfast, your tenders take you into the heart of the bay to see this partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim, snorkel, or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites. The more adventurous can swim or paddle through the dark waters to the other mouth of the cave. After returning to the ship, use tenders to explore more of this impressive maze of karst islands, both above and below the surface, complete with mysterious skull cairns in sea-cave cemeteries, and prehistoric cave paintings, estimated to be anything between 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures and huge human palms, fish, flowers and plants, tools and vessels. Overnight, boat cruises north to the island of Batanta.
After days of marine exploration, the jungle-clad island of Batanta offers you a change of scenery and a chance to stretch your legs on an adventurous trek into the island’s interior. Anchor at the foot of Arefi Village, nestled on the north coast of the island, and there find local guides to escort you through the mangrove waters to the start point of your trek. A short walk along the riverbed brings you to the first of two jungle waterfalls complete with a refreshing pool for cooling off. The fit and adventurous may choose to continue the uphill climb along the rocks to where a second, larger cascade awaits. After leaving the wilderness behind, find a nearby spot to swim and snorkel before moving north to the island of Waigeo.
Wake up in the south of Mayalibit Bay – the huge and wild bay at the heart of Waigeo, Raja Ampat’s biggest island. The bay, which almost splits the island in two, is entered via a narrow fjord-like channel that meets the ocean just east of Waisai on Waigeo’s south coast. When the tide is running, the huge volumes of water flowing into or out of Mayalibit make the channel look like a swift and powerful river. After breakfast, take the dinghies to Lopintol Village where you will find one of the villagers to guide us on a morning spelunking expedition. Visit two very dramatic and contrasting caves that highlight the fascinating underground formations of the karst landscape. After lunch, freshen up with a well-earned swim and snorkel before heading to Sapokren Village on the southwest tip of Waigeo Island to meet with a local NGO leader to discuss illegal logging, community development and (hopefully) details of a new FFI (Flora & Fauna International) project in these areas.
After waking up, before sunrise, follow in the footsteps of the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in a pre-dawn quest to spot the remarkable Red Bird of Paradise, one of the species that Wallace was most anxious to collect. The efforts of our trek through the forest will pay off, enabling us to catch a rare and privileged sight of the bird’s elaborate courtship dance as the day breaks over the forest canopy. Whether you spot the birds or not, for sure you will experience a wonderful trek. Afterwards, you will turn your attention from the sky to the sea as the Ombak Putih makes its way through the Dampier strait, home to some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. With a bit of luck, snorkel among some of the larger specimens of marine life attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich currents. End our day by mooring off Pulau Arborek in front Arborek Village. Here, you can easily circumnavigate the tiny island by foot and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living in this isolated place.
Another full day of adventure awaits us along the convoluted western coast of Waigeo. Begin the morning by exploring Wofoh, three island gems linked together by stretches of pristine coral reef. You can use the tenders or kayaks to navigate the islands, or put your newly-acquired fish identification skills to use in exploring this vibrant reef. Or you may prefer to simply just relax on the beach. In the afternoon you will move northwards to Aljui Bay, home to the Cendanda Pearl Farm, one of the larger producers of high quality seawater pearls in the region. Pearling is an important industry throughout Indonesia and a number of farms can be seen in the waters of Raja Ampat, where the farmers may grant us permission to visit their facilities and receive an explanation of the pearling processes that we have seen during our voyage. In the evening you will make your way across the equator to the northern hemisphere on our journey to the islands of Wayag.
Few areas in Indonesia can lay claim to such unsurpassed natural splendour as Raja Ampat’s Wayag islands. The beauty of these picturesque karst spires is perhaps only equalled by the brilliant colours and vibrancy of the reefs and the marine life that flourishes below. Nature has carved these islands into a series of coves and lagoons, narrow channels and inlets, caves, jagged rocks and shaded, sandy beaches. For those who dare, there are some spectacular but nearly vertical climbs that are rewarded with magnificent panoramas. Spend a quiet night here at anchor.
The Wayag islands are Raja Ampat’s best, and you will make the most of this unique region for one more morning, navigating the maze of mushroom-shaped islands, and stopping for swimming and snorkelling. In the afternoon, you will set your compasses to return to the southern hemisphere on your way back to mainland West Papua. In the evening you will have your farewell dinner with your captain and crew.
Day 10: Sorong | Disembark
After a quick stop for a final swim and refreshments on one of the nearby islands, make your way back to the harbor of Sorong, arriving around lunch time. Here bid farewell to the ship and her crew. The tenders take you ashore for your transfer to the airport for your onward travel.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.