Lay back and relax as we begin our sailing trip around Raja Ampat’s gorgeous islands. The itinerary for the next few days is flexible as we might have to change the approach to what we visit and when based on
weather and other factors. Sailing’s main attraction is that each day is unique and, of course, the spontaneous element.
We will catch a morning ferry to Kota Waisai that lies on the island of Waigeo, the capital of the Raja Ampat Regency. If Wasai, we board on our home for the next week, the Big Kanu. Based on a traditional Melanesian framework canoe, the trimaran is an excellent vessel for cruising the shallow waters of the archipelago.
Our first stop is the Kabui Bay, which is an enchanting location. You can see lots of karst formations scattered throughout Kabui Bay. Many of these formations rise dramatically from the sea and filled with dense tropical vegetation. Some have wooden docks that allow easy access for a closer look. Kabui Bay also has clear turquoise waters full of colorful corals and schools of fish, making it great for snorkeling and paddleboarding. There is a huge mangrove river that leads deep into the center of a limestone karst forest with different bizarre trees that rise out of the water. This mangrove is a world away from the average muddy mangrove swamp. We anchor down beside one of the many limestone towers here. The place has an amazing atmosphere, so you can start the day with some yoga in this fantastic place.
Pulau Gam is renowned for its white sandy beaches and pristine forests and offers calm, shallow waters that are perfect for snorkeling. Walk around the beach, or you may even go for a trek to one of the higher points of the island for some birdwatching. A highlight of Gam is a local village where you will meet very friendly people. People of this village follow the Lutheran region, and you might see many odd churches dotted around the area. When we dock or visit the town, we might meet a welcoming group of curious kids. It is a great experience to enter the village and see the beautiful simplicity of life here. After seeing the life of these villages, you may question your needless complications of life back home.\
Wayang is the Raja Ampat poster child; if you have seen any image of Raja Ampat, there’s a huge chance that it’s of this place. Here, you will see a small circular beach spot where most boats do not try to go near. Here, we will set up our dining table surrounded by the trees on the edge of the white sandy beach. We will settle in here for two days, dining, and spend days exploring from this gorgeous anchorage. Those who want to have some serious exercise and are not afraid of heights challenge the steep hike through dense vegetation, which will reward you with sweeping views of the area.
If you thought you had the best snorkeling up to this point, you would soon be changing your mind. Snorkelers in this region get an underwater experience that almost feels as if you are diving. You will see lots of colorful corals, reefs, and fish, tasseled wobbegongs, Raja epaulet sharks (walking sharks), Pewter’s angelfish, and maybe even seahorses. You might also see large black corals that are unique to this region. They lay very deep in other regions, but in Alyu Bay, they nearly stay on the surface. These unique corals owe their name to the dark coloration of their flexible and spiny skeleton. They often have lightly-colored polyps, with some gorgeous white colonies that resemble wispy, snow-dusted saplings. Snorkels will also see many sea slugs in the shallow waters of the bay. You will also more colorful and much easier to see sponge and sea squirt, mostly along the current swept walls.
It is a small island that you can explore within less than an hour. Palau Arborek is home to the Arborek Tourist village, which is famous for its friendly hospitable community that makes unique handcrafts. One example of the handicraft is Noken, a traditional Papuan woven string bag. The locals of this village are extremely hospitable and very proud of their efforts in formulating regulations and their conservation region, leading the way in community-based marine conservation. From the beach of this village, you can snorkel right off. As you swim along the pillars of the jetty, you will notice huge schools of fish and coral, and at low tide, you may want to join local women as they search for sea cucumbers.
Dampier Strait is the huge passage of water between the islands of Gam and Waigeo in the north and Batanta in the south. The strait takes its name from William Dampier, an English explorer adventurer who first charted the area in the 17th century. This strait is where the Indonesia Throughflow runs. Indonesia Throughflow is an ocean current that takes upper ocean waters from the northeast Pacific Ocean to the southwest Indian ocean. It is the largest water movement in the world. The current carries lots of plankton and streams of other nutrients to the reefs, which results in a remarkable diversity of coral and fish.
As you near the tiny island of Friwen, a welcoming party of children will welcome you. Join them on the tree swings or wander through this small village. You will have another opportunity to interact with the locals of the island. The island features many beautiful beaches on the northern shore, but the major attraction is the Friwenbonda to the south. The Friwenbonda is a limestone tower located 500meters from Friwen and separated by a deep channel. The cliffs of the north coast dip into the ocean and create the Friwen Wall, which is a stunning snorkeling site and home to many numbers of coral fans of yellow, red, and purple that sway in the current.
Please note that the trip is flexible if the weather changes or if the group decides on something different. The itinerary may alter depending on the weather and sea conditions. To ensure your safety at all times, your skipper will make the final call.
Raja Ampat’s beauty is breathtaking, and it is one of the most significant marine biodiversity areas in the world. Due to its unique location, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Coral Triangle is home to enormous coral colonies. It is one of the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.
Scientist continues to discover new species and is drawing new conclusions in Raja Ampat like that the coral around Raja Ampat is more resistant to variations in water temperatures which helps to replenish other reef ecosystems by allowing the coral larvae to sweep into the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Note: At certain times, Dampier Strain and Friwen Wall face strong currents. So, we recommend snorkelers who are not strong swimmers to wear vests and rings that are available onboard. And, before entering the water, talk to the crew to ascertain your suitability for the activity. You need to have a good level of fitness for the trek in Palau Wayag. You will be walking in hot and humid temperatures, and it will be quite strenuous. We recommend you to carry a bottle full of water with you.