Raja Ampat is the hidden paradise in Indonesia. Located in the east part of Indonesia, the place is a home for the natural wealth and underwater beauty. Included as one of the world heritage in UNESCO, Raja Ampat is a must be visited destination. You will see islands, small islands, cays, bay, flora and fauna, and many other things you probably did not see before.
Raja Ampat or the Four Kings islands is an archipelago in the east part of Indonesia consist of over 1.500 small islands, shoals surrounding the main islands and cays. It is a part of Coral Triangle, means that it has the richest marine biodiversity on earth. Raja Ampat Islands is located in West Papua province, which formerly was known as Irian Jaya. It is off the northwest tip of Papua Bird’s Head Peninsula. It becomes a new regency after separated from Sorong in 2004. Cendrawasih Bay as the largest marine national park in Indonesia is also included to this area.
The four main islands in Raja Ampat is Salawati, Misool, Batanta, Waigeo, and also the smaller island called as Kofiau. Most of the archipelago in Raja Ampat is in the southern hemisphere with a few small islands in the northern hemisphere such as Sajang Island.
Fishing is the main occupation for local people around Raja Ampat area since it is dominated by sea. They still live in small colony of tribes and where traditional culture still strongly exists. However they are very friendly to visitors. The people characteristic some say are more like Ambonese than Papuan people. One more interesting thing about vacation in Raja Ampat is when you come at the Arborek Tourism Village, you will be shown a traditional welcome dance right at the dock and they entertained the guest with various Papuan folk songs.
Raja Ampat is taken from the local mythology in Papua that tells of a woman who finds seven eggs. Four of the eggs then hatch and become kings who occupy four biggest islands in Raja Ampat (Salawati, Misool, Batanta, and Waigeo), while the other three eggs become a princess, a ghost, and a stone. Salawati, Misool, Batanta, and Waigeo become the biggest kingdom in Raja Ampat. The name of the kings once are Betani king of Salawati, Dohar king of Misool, War king of Waigeo, and Mohamad king of Batanta.
The area of Raja Ampat was once being a part of Sultanate of Tidore, a big kingdom from Maluku. But after the Dutch invaded Maluku, Raja Ampat was claimed by the Netherlands. The first recorded landing by Europeans was by the Portuguese (Jorge de Menezes) in 1526 who explored Biak and Waigeo to Halmahera. There is also English explorer, William Dampier that gave his name to Dampier Strait, the strait which separates Batanta from Waigeo. While other strait that separates Batanta from Salawati called as Pitt Strait, after Captain Willian Wilson in 1759 sailing in the East Indiaman Pitt.
Marine life diversity in Raja Ampat is the highest that ever been recorded on earth. It is considered greater than any other area in Indonesia. The oceanic resources make it potential as tourist area. Moreover Raja Ampat has top ten most popular spots for diving. The diving spots have been very famous throughout the world recently. Not surprising that many people, foreigner especially, come into this place to feel diving in this beautiful place.
The Coral Triangle in Raja Ampat is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, probably the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world. While in many other are of the world, coral reefs are continue to suffer from the high sea surface temperature, coral bleaching, and coral disease, Raja Ampat islands are undisturbed by humans and still remote, so that the coral reefs are protected well.
Thanks to its position that located between Indian and Pacific Oceans, Raja Ampat now has high marine diversity as coral and fishes are more easily shared between those two oceans. 1.508 fish species (tuna, manta rays, batfish, barracudas, snappers, giant trevallies, etc), 537 coral species, and 699 mollusk species live here. The coral species is the richest in the world, 75% of all coral species that exist in the world are here. The harmless jellyfish can be found all in the Misool area. Other than that, school fish, sharks, and wobbegongs are in these islands. Wobbegong is the name for carpet shark species that are around the eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean, precisely around Indonesia and Australia.Raja Ampat is also home for 1.700 species of reef fish, endangered and rare marine mammals such as dugongs, whales, dolphins, and orcas, giant sea clams down at the sea floor, and turtle.
The life in Raja Ampat is not only about the sea and its underwater beauty. In the land, dozens of enchanting jungle hide spectacular bird species that is Cendrawasih, the bird of paradise. There are also still many other birds in beautiful colors.
Maleo Waigeo is a species of endemic bird that can only be seen in Waigeo Island. Meanwhile, birds of king shrimp kofiau can only be found on Kofiau Island. Total of birds in Raja Ampat is reaching 173 species of birds and 11 of them are endemic birds (red cendrawasih, kehicap kofiau, maleo waigeo, bald cendrawasih, black lorry, etc). If you are lucky you can also see dozens of birds like dwarf cassowary, mambruk victoria, black wing parrot, single wolf cassowary, hooded pitohiu, and many more other.
Except for the birds, jungle in Raja Ampat also keeps animals like the endemic species of cuscus called the Waigeou cuscus, tree kangaroos, bird wing butterflies, and reimani turtles which are snake-headed turtles.