Top Indonesia sea routes are meant as suggestions for the interesting courses that small vessels may follow through the archipelago. The routes are for planning purposes only and one must keep in mind that the itinerary and program may have to be modified as a result of unfavorable winds or other circumstances. This very special itinerary covers about 500 miles and to experience the incredible natural diversity of this archipelago we suggest a duration of about 10 days but it could of course be amended according to your own specific interests and preferences.
The Raja Ampat archipelago consists of some 600 Islands and islets that straddle the equator in the area off the “Birds Head” - the Doberoi Peninsula, the extreme north-western tip of the Papua province of Indonesia. The name Raja Ampat literally means ‘the Four Kings’ and dates back to the time that the islands were ruled from the North Moluccan sultanates of Ternate and Tidore. (In those days each of the four larger islands in the group, Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta and Misool used to have an independent ‘raja) Most of the islands have rugged and steep coastlines and are covered with virgin rain forest. The larger islands are lightly populated, but most others are uninhabited by humans. Until the turn of the century the name Raja Ampat was still completely absent from Indonesian travel brochures and no one in the travel business had even heard of the name.
However, in the course of the past ten years the area has been thoroughly surveyed and it has been identified as one of the most noteworthy ecological niches on the planet, on a par with the Great Barrier Reef and Galapagos. Marine biologists have concluded that Raja Ampat is home to seventy percent of the known coral species on the planet and as a result this is now the number one diving destination in the world. However, one does not need to be an expert diver to experience the beauty of this underwater paradise. Just go snorkeling. Ninety percent of reef life lives in the top 4 meters of water, so snorkelers do not miss out on anything by not donning scuba gear.
Most importantly: in addition Raja Ampat has some of the most stunning top-side views in the world and you do not need to be a seasoned birdwatcher either to witness the bird life that brought Alfred Russell Wallace to this region over a century ago. You have a very good chance to observe the dance of the dazzling red bird of paradise, to hear the shrieks of the sulphur crested cockatoo and the flapping of the wings of passing hornbills….
When you leave Sorong on the first day of the cruise you should go on a Northerly course into the Dampier Strait. Head for Kri, just east of slightly larger Mansuar Island. Here you find white-sand beaches, clear waters, and iridescent reefs with the backdrop of heavy rain forest. Spend the night at anchor.
Go snorkeling during the next morning. It will be a great introduction to the underwater splendor of The Raja Ampat because this very area is considered to have some of the richest reefs in the world. In the afternoon we suggest you proceed to the South coast of the island of Gam. Go ashore on a trek inland in an attempt to spot the red Bird of Paradise. Leave again in the evening for an overnight passage of some sixty-five miles. Sometime during the night you will cross the equator for a short one day foray into the Northern hemisphere….
On the morning of the third day you will have the impression that you have arrived in an extraterrestrial world. What looks like an armada of flying saucers around you is in reality a great number of tiny islets that over time have been eroded by the relentless motion of the tides. These are the Wayag islands. The landscape is typical of ‘karst dissolution’ so over time the chain of islands was cut into a series of coves and lagoons, narrow channels and inlets, caves and jagged rocks as well as countless shaded beaches. You will spend a wonderful day here and may want to stay longer. However we do suggest raising the anchor in the course of the evening and going on a southerly course. Much more is awaiting you.
On the fourth day you make a landfall on the North Coast of Kofiau Island and find a sheltered anchorage off the village of Deer, on a small island separated from Kofiau by a clear channel. Go ashore and explore the area. The water around these islands is clear enough to see the bottom everywhere. In the course of the afternoon you could then proceed to the Boo Islands. This is a group of small islands with extremely rich vegetation and a true birdwatcher's paradise. Drop anchor in between the islands and go snorkeling in the lagoon of Boo Kecil. There are no permanent human settlements on these islands. Apart from parrots many seabirds fly past. This is truly a magnificent spot to spend the night at anchor.
Leave at sunrise on day five and start your passage towards Misool. This island, also known as Batanme, is located about 40 miles southwest of the Doberai Peninsula. Flat lowlands cover the coastal regions except in the south, which is hilly and mountainous; the hills in the central part of the island reach an elevation of 3,250 feet. The climate is hot, with heavy rainfall; seasonal streams flow seaward from the central highlands, where there are dense hardwood forests. The island is sparsely populated. If you reach the village of Lenmolas on the Eastern end of the north coast in the course of the afternoon you should certainly spend the rest of the day ashore to get the feel of this remarkable place.
Go round Cape Yamtu on the sixth day and follow the east coast southward. Few areas in Indonesia can lay claim to such unsurpassed natural beauty as this part of the Misool archipelago; we suggest you anchor off the Farondi islands in surroundings that are truly magnificent.
On the seventh day you could move again a little further south to the archipelago that extends south from Cape Forongketo. This is another large cluster of uninhabited islands. There are pristine beaches and reefs in the neighborhood of Kalig and Fiabacet.
On the eighth day it would be time to go back north again and move to the Kepulauan Penyu 16 miles NNE of Misool for a last day of swimming and snorkeling. These are a group of eight islands covered with high trees and quite different from what you have seen before. In the course of the evening start your passage to return towards the mainland.
In the early morning of the ninth day you should make a landfall on the southern coast of Batanta Island. Then in the course of the day proceed to Markhesa Bay, close to Sorong and spend some time ashore to meet the people in the local village. Spend your last night at anchor
On the tenth day return to the mainland and say farewell to the captain and crew. Top Indonesia will arrange your transfer to the airport and assist you with all further travel arrangements
for in-depth destination knowledge and high-touch assistance
A 10 day cruise around Raja Ampat for non divers - 500 miles 10 days