EXPLORING THE EAST - PART I
This time we ventured east and visited the Raja Ampat islands of Indonesia. Raja Ampat consists of four main islands and is part of West Papua. Getting there from Jakarta is quite easy (check out the section below "How to get there"). If you fly from Bali, it is a bit more tricky because you have to transit somewhere first, usually in Sulawesi. But no matter what - it is worth it!
After we arrived in Sorong at the airport, we got picked up and took a boat to the Raja Ampat islands from the harbour for about two hours. We stayed on one of the four main islands called Waigeo. We slept in the Waiwo Dive Resort, which is located right at the beach and surrounded by clear blue water. During our stay, there were not many people around and the beach was very quiet. It was super relaxing to take a dip and just to chill out reading a book. There is not much surrounding the resort, only one other accomodation next door and tropical greens everywhere. The city Waisai, which is the main city of Waigeo, is not located far from the resort and you can take a car to go there and explore the rest of Waigeo. Also, it is possible to fly from Sorong straight to Waigeo island with a small plane, in case you don't want to take the boat.
On our first day, we just chilled at the beach and enjoyed the turquoise water. We were surrounded by tropical forests, palmtrees and tranquility - it was insanely relaxing. On the next day, we took a boat to Teluk Kabui and Batu Pensil, which is a bay area close to Waigeo. Teluk Kabui includes many rocks, that are sticking out of the water. It looks very similar to the Vietnamese Halong Bay. It is a beautiful sight and during our boat ride there, we saw some local fishermen doing what they do best. On the other hand, Batu Pensil is a special rock in Teluk Kabui that is tall and sharp, looking like a pencil. It is a common attraction in Teluk Kabui, where many visitors venture to.
The following day, we went on another boat trip and travelled to Sawinggrai village. On the way there, we wanted to stop at Pasir Timbul, which is a wide sandbank in the middle of the ocean. The sandbank is only reachable when it is low-tide. During high-tide, the complete sandbank disappears underwater. Unfortunately, at that time during the day, we were not able to stop at Pasir Timbul because the water level was too high. So remember - check on the tides first before visiting Pasir Timbul! On our way back from Sawinggrai though, the tide was lower and we could see the sandback sticking out of the water. Make sure to go there while the sun is out to sunbathe and enjoy the sandbanks!
After about one hour boat ride from Waigeo, we arrived at Sawinggrai village to go snorkeling. Sawinggrai is located right at the beach and once we arrived, we were greeted by all the local kids of the village. Generally the people in West Papua are very friendly and open, they offer their help and smile all the time. We took our snorkeling gear and jumped right into the clear water. We saw plenty of different fish species, which all came very close and we were surrounded all the time by different fish. It was totally mesmerizing and luckily the current was not very strong, so it was very easy to swim around and check out all the different underwater animals. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can even see dolphins or dugongs, especially in the morning.
After snorkeling for a few hours, we went further out to a little island called Friwend. Friwend is a very small island, where only a few people live. Once you arrive in Friwend, you are surrounded by heaps of palm trees and such clear water. There are only a few local people on the island, selling coconuts and just enjoying being on the island. There is a small swing hanging down a tree, where you can just let go of all worries and watch the beautiful sunset. Friwend was definitely one of our favourite things in Raja Ampat, just because it was so relaxing and quiet there with clear and still water. We just arrived in time there for sunset, which set a perfect end to our day.
Check out our Instagram for more insights of our Raja Ampat trip and don't forget to read up on our next blog article about our second part of this epic trip!
Love, Marissa & Juliette
How to get to Raja Ampat
Xpress Air and Nam Air fly directly every day from Jakarta to Sorong. Sorong is located on West Papua and the closest bigger airport to the Raja Ampat islands.
We took the Xpress Air flight at 1:10 AM and arrived around 7 AM in Sorong. The flight duration is 4 hours (time difference Jakarta / Raja Ampat is 2 hours).
From Bali, you have to make at least one stop for a transit. Usually you fly to Sorong via Makassar (Sulawesi). Different airlines such as Garuda or Sriwijaya Air serve for these routes.