Snorkeling Raja Ampat
Snorkeling in Raja Ampat
Snorkeling Raja Ampat will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable underwater experiences for anyone. Many people comment that this region of West Papua is the best area in the world for snorkeling and diving, featuring the most diverse marine life in the Coral Triangle formed by Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The four main islands, or the four kings, are Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo, but are surrounded by over 1500 smaller islands, and so it's no surprise that the snorkeling opportunities here are endless. If it's not already, Raja Ampat snorkeling should be on any marine enthusiast's bucket list.
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Marine Life In Raja Ampat
The diversity of life found in the Raja Ampat archipelago is nothing short of stunning. More than 600 Mollusc and Coral species can be seen on a snorkel trip here, as well as over 1200 fish species. There's the full range of hard and soft corals, in every colour and shape imaginable, supporting huge schools of reef fish and all their associated predators. Snorkeling trips to Raja Ampat will commonly feature regular shark sitings, including the docile Wobbegong. Large groups of Turtles and Manta Rays are often seen in several snorkel sites, a favourite for many visitors. Sociable dolphins are also resident in many areas across the archipelago, always happy to interact with those snorkeling amongst them. There's an incredible range of not just life in Raja Ampat, but also in the snorkel sites, featuring everything from tiny macro creatures, such as Pygmy Seahorses, to some of the largest animals found in our oceans - including Whales at the correct time of year.
Best Snorkel Sites in Raja Ampat
You could spend a year exploring snorkel sites in Raja Ampat and hardly scratch the surface of what is on offer. Below is a summary of a few that really capture the region:
Bird Wall in Waigeo is a reef featuring bommies and an incredibly vast array of marine life. Cuttlefish are commonly witnessed here hovering in the crystal clear water, and in the shallows Pygmy Seahorses and Sea Dragons are regularly sited. It's a place frequented by Green Turtles, and the huge Napoleon Wrasse as well.
Manta Ridge, as the name suggests, is THE spot for snorkeling with Manta Rays. Many places within Raja Ampat are home to these majestic creatures, but this site in the central region of the archipelago is arguably the best for viewing Mantas in high numbers (sometimes up to 30 at a time!), due to it's status as an excellent cleaning station.
In the south, Boo Island is home to the full range and diversity of marine life that gives Raja Ampat it's well deserved recognition of one of the best marine environments in the world. Common reef fish including Surgeonfish and Fusiliers are present in vast numbers, along with Titan Triggerfish, Batfish and Sweetlips. The reef is blessed with healthy corals, creating the perfect surroundings for a thriving underwater ecosystem.
Best Time To Snorkel In Raja Ampat
Snorkeling in Raja Ampat is possible all year round, although some seasonal changes mean that it's not all accessible all at the same time. West Papua is perhaps the one region where underwater action happens all the time. Dive and snorkel boats often visit Cenderawasih Bay, a sheltered spot where Whale Sharks are consistently seen throughout the year. October through till April is the busiest time snorkeling wise for Raja Ampat, when conditions allow exploration of the majority of snorkel sites in the area, and when Manta Ray numbers are at their greatest due to the high levels of Plankton. Between July and September, the weather and water conditions can be a little less reliable, when the seas can be rougher due to winds and rain. That said, several operators still run during this time, and due to the lower numbers of tourists can appeal to some people. Water temperatures in Raja Ampat are always pleasant, ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celcius.
How Do I Get To Raja Ampat?
The Raja Ampat area is huge, and it can be hard to know where to go or where to start when planning a snorkeling trip. A great option is to board a liveaboard cruise offering snorkeling trips, which will sail you through the stunning islands whilst visiting many of the best snorkel sites on offer, without you having to worry about the logistics - all you need to do is get to the the port of departure! Commonly this will be the city of Sorong, which has a small but well served international airport. Flights arrive here from Singapore, as well as several Indonesian hubs such as Jakarta, Makassar and Manado.