Raja Ampat snorkeling cruise
Expedition in Indonesian West Papua

December 2012

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Raja Ampat map | Raja Ampat cruise info | Raja Ampat pictures | Contacts and Copyright | Pagina in Italiano

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Suggested cruise itinerary in Indonesia

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This snorkeling expedition to Raja Ampat was booked through Wilderness Travel, please visit their web site for this and other snorkeling expeditions around the world (thank you for the beautiful trip and for the excellent service provided!)


Raja Ampat islands is an archipelago composed of about 1500 islands located in indonesian West Papua, also known as Irian Jaya, and stretching across the equator in the seas north-west of Papua New Guinea. The region is populated just sparsely and is still quite far from the routes affected by mass tourism. Located in the heart of coral triangle, Raja Ampat features one of the highest biodiversity of the planet, that includes many corals in excellent health state.


There isn't actually a best time to visit Raja Ampat, as the weather is hot year-round (between 25 and 32 degrees centigrades) and there isn't a real dry season: rains are to be expected year-round as well, although their frequency and quantity may be lower between October and December, months that are featured also by a calmer sea. The water's temperature is around 28 degrees centigrades, although, depending on currents, there may be variations of several degrees often found even within a distance of a few meters of water.


Sorong is the capital and the main gateway to Raja Ampat islands. Sorong can be reached by about 4-5 hours flight from Jakarta or Bali, including a stop-over or an aircraft change somewhere in Indonesia (normally Makassar in Sulawesi). The flight is just daily and delays are to be expected, so it's a good idea to not book any international connection on the same day and stay at least one night in Jakarta.


There are currently very few places to stay in Raja Ampat islands and the region is so big that staying in only one place is a real limitation, also because the ecosystem and the marine life that you can observe, changes a lot from place to place. The best way to visit Raja Ampat islands is with a cruise on a liveaboard for several days, calling at various islands, snorkeling and diving spots.

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JakartaDay trip to Jakarta and to Indonesia Miniature Park <<-- GO
Because of the distance between Jakarta and Raja Ampat, as well as the limited availability of flights, it is advisable to arrive in Jakarta at least one day before the start of the cruise. The free day can be spent with a pleasant day tour of Jakarta, for example to the Indonesia Miniature Park.
Taman Safari ParkDay trip from Jakarta to Bogor botanical gardens and Taman Safari Park <<-- GO
Another idea to spend a free day in Jakarta is an excursion to Bogor, the city that hosts one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. Within a relatively short distance, you can find also Taman Safari Park, a large safari park that is home to many animals coming from different corners of the planet.
Cruise to Raja AmpatOur snorkeling cruise to Raja Ampat: Shakti boat <<-- GO
A cruise in Raja Ampat on a small wooden boat allows you to snorkel or dive every day in a different place, thus offering the opportunity to see many different ecosystems and marine life depending on the area you visit.
Wayag islandsPhotos of Raja Ampat islands seen from outside the water <<-- GO
Raja Ampat is not only spectacular for the immense biodiversity of its waters, but also for the landscape out of the water, dominated by large domes of limestone overlooking pristine lagoons and reefs.
Irian Jaya (Indonesia)Raja Ampat beaches and land excursions to the islands <<-- GO
During the cruise in Raja Ampat, although the trip is mainly dedicated to snorkeling or diving, the opportunity to visit remote deserted beaches on uninhabited islands, shouldn't be missed, as these places are not only spectacular, but they do not see the presence of a human for many consecutive weeks.
Diving in Raja AmpatSnorkeling and diving in Raja Ampat: the underwater landscape <<-- GO
Raja Ampat is located in the Coral Triangle, an area characterized by the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet, hosting hard and soft corals, fish and molluscs in such number that they are not "inserted" into the landscape, but they form the landscape itself.
Sea spongesPhotos of sponges and crinoids from my snorkeling trip in Raja Ampat <<-- GO
Raja Ampat is home to a wide variety of sponges, one of the simplest multicellular organism in the world. Obviously there are also many large starfish in different shapes and colors, as well as other echinoderms.
AscidiansPictures of Ascidians and other tunicates found in Raja Ampat islands <<-- GO
Ascidians, known also as "sea squirt" are often overlooked during dives or snorkeling trips, although these organisms are very interesting under many points of views. Raja Ampat hosts litterally millions of these creatures, along coral reefs and rocks, often filling entire vertical walls.
Hard coralsPhotos of hard corals from Raja Ampat in the coral triangle <<-- GO
The amount of hard corals, like acropora, living in Raja Ampat is impressive. Their state of health appears to be very good, with their colors determined by a complex relationship with the zooxanthellae algae, producing or masking the pigments.
Soft coralsPhotos of soft corals in Raja Ampat <<-- GO
The range of soft corals found in Raja Ampat, called "soft" because they do not have an external calcareous skeleton, is featured by an immense variety of species having different shapes and colors, ranging from purple to red, to pink and yellow.
NudibranchRaja Ampat pictures of nudibranchs, giant clams and other molluscs <<-- GO
The coral reef of Raja Ampat is home to an incredible wide variety of molluscs including, of course, the beautiful nudibranchs that can be sometimes found also very close to the surface. Giant clams can be seen just everywhere and sometimes, in addition to unusual huge size, they display also beautiful colors.
Clown FishPictures of clown fish and damsel fish from Raja Ampat Indonesia <<-- GO
Several species of clown fish, living in symbiosis with a wide variety of anemones, are found in large numbers especially in protected lagoons of Raja Ampat islands. The damsel fish are also found here, often swimming in groups of hundreds of individuals.
AngelfishPictures of other fish and turtles found while snorkeling in Raja Ampat <<-- GO
The variety of fish in Raja Ampat changes considerably depending on exposure of the reef, ocean currents and local ecosystem. The most exposed reefs are featured by larger fish, sharks and turtles, while the more protected areas are populated mainly by smaller fish.

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