Raja Ampat SEA Centre
The stunning archipelago of Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia has received a lot of praise as THE top destination for scuba diving. Rightfully so, but many wonder, apart from diving, are there other things to do in Raja Ampat?
We say: YES, definitely, and aplenty! This beautiful picturesque area invites not only scuba divers. Snorkelers, bird watchers, photographers, scientists and nature enthusiasts can be sure to have an equally amazing time. Here we would like to introduce the best activities in Raja Ampat, in our opinion. We hope it will give you some ideas how to spend your holiday in this little paradise.
Although in this article we focus on things to do apart from scuba diving, it would be a pity to leave it unmentioned. The region is located right at the center of the Coral Triangle. It is recognized as the worldwide epicenter of marine biodiversity. Therefore the reefs and marine life are stunning and the biodiversity is fascinating. Not only as a scuba diver you can enjoy the wonderful underwater world, but also as a snorkeler you will be equally delighted. Actually it was the snorkeling that had put the region on the map and made it famous in the first place. Most dive sites are also suitable for snorkeling, as they have shallow, colorful reef tops with lots of marine species to see.
Raja Ampat is one of the few places in the world where both species of Manta rays can be encountered. We see them both underwater and at the surface, especially between October and May.
One of the best things to do above the water in Raja Ampat, is to enjoy the magnificent nature. Lush rainforests with majestic trees cover some of the larger islands. These are home to various tropical bird species, as well as bats and butterflies. The endemic Birds of Paradise are famous for their amazing mating ceremonies. At Papua Explorers Eco Resort we offer dedicated bird watching hikes. With a bit of luck we can observe the two species Red Bird of Paradise and Wilson’s Bird of Paradise.
Apart from that the sandy beaches invite for a stroll, especially during low tide. We can spot palm cockatoos, kingfishers and many other beautiful birds. Even the ducks here look different from what you are used to probably. 🙂
Raja Ampat consists of many small islands, naturally with plenty of water around them. So another nice thing to do is to explore the surroundings by kayak or paddleboard. You can discover secluded beaches, limestone cliffs and mangrove areas. And the best thing is you’ll be doing something for your fitness at the same time. At Papua Explorers Resort we provide kayaks and standup paddleboards for our guests free of charge.
Indonesia is generally a culturally rich and diverse country. This is true for Raja Ampat as well. West Papua’s culture is unique. It shows remarkable differences among even small islands. Even though there is a low population density, more than 10 different languages spoken in Raja Ampat. These lovely islands have been so isolated that even small populations developed their own languages.
So discovering Raja Ampat culturally is one of many nice things to do. For example, you can visit the villages and interact with the locals. Next to our Papua Explorers Resort we have the small village Yenwaupnor. Many of our employees come from the village. It is nice to take a stroll there and see some friendly familiar faces. Further, we also visit many other local villages for a coffee break during surface intervals with our daily diving and snorkeling boats. At Papua Explorers you also can join traditional dances during your visit. Additionally you can participate in one of our Sunday school classes and play games with our lovely students.
If you stay at Papua Explorers Eco Resort, you will see a lot of the surrounding area already even on the normal daily boats for diving and snorkeling. Our location is right at the Dampier Strait, very close to the famous dive sites of Raja Ampat. In between dives or snorkeling sessions, we always have a coffee break at a nice beach or in village. This gives our guests lots of opportunity to discover the area.
Nevertheless, we also offer some extra daytrips to a bit more remote places in Raja Ampat. These tours start in the morning and we come back to the resort only later in the afternoon. Therefore we always take a delicious picnic lunch with us. The day excursions are an exiting combination of sightseeing, hiking, viewpoints and of course diving and snorkeling. Learn more about our day tours here.
One of our favorite things to do in Raja Ampat is certainly conservation of marine life. Also the support and development of the local community is very important to us. With our own NGO, the Papua Explorers Foundation we educate and empower locals and together with them preserve the beautiful region. All of this would not be possible without the support of our valued guests. When staying with us you already contribute automatically to our conservation efforts. However of course we are always happy about additional donations.
During your visit you can also contribute hands-on, for example by doing a coral transplantation dive. You can help with our citizen science project, by letting us know in detail which marine species you encountered during your dives or snorkeling sessions. In evening presentations you will learn about various topics such as Manta ray behavior, coral reef conservation and many more.
Raja Ampat is also a paradise for photographers, above the water and below. Tropical birds, bats and butterflies and other interesting rainforest creatures can be observed. Also wild orchids and endemic black orchids. Sometimes we see the spotted kuskus, a little marsupial, sitting in the trees around our resort. Huge coconut crabs sometimes wander the beaches. As mentioned above, the Red Bird of Paradise and Wilson’s Bird of Paradise also invite for a photographic challenge. When visiting local villages you might also have the opportunity for some portrait photos, if you ask politely. Additionally the villages themselves are quite picturesque. And wait until you see the beautiful sparkling night sky of Raja Ampat.
Underwater you will find a photographer’s haven for both macro and wide angle photography. Huge corals in vibrant colors are perfect for wide angle. Most photographers are fascinated by the density of fish and corals. So they focus on wide-angle photography throughout their stay. However, Raja Ampat is home to some endemic macro creatures. Therefore using your macro lens can be extremely rewarding, too.
After long days of exploring, diving, photographing and all the other exciting things to do in Raja Ampat, you might simply want one thing. Relaxation! Rest assured that this is possible here as well. Alone the soft chirping of the birds and flutter of waves will put you into a zen-like state every night when you go to sleep. At Papua Explorers each bungalow is built on the water and has its own veranda with a stunning view. Here you find sunbeds as well as a hammock inviting you for an afternoon nap. But don’t forget the sun lotion.
We also go one step further with our spa on the ocean. You will find it on our jetty, with stunning views of the islands of the Dampier Strait. Our Papua Explorers Spa offers a variety of treatments. For example a relaxing traditional Indonesian massage surrounded by the tranquil sounds of the sea. Or how about an after-sun treatment, in case you did forget the sun lotion on the aforementioned afternoon nap?
To summarize, we think Raja Ampat really offers a lot of things to do! Therefore we recommend to spend at least a week here on your vacation. However most guests who spent only a week, say later that they wish they had planned even more time in this beautiful region. There is really so much to do and see, so it never gets boring.