After spending 3 days exploring the cultural capital of Indonesia – Yogyakarta, it was time to explore the tropical paradise of Raja Ampat.

I have no idea how this place escaped my aqua blue water radar but I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to explore this amazing place. I now have a new No. 1 favourite destination in the world.

The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua. Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life. Let me show you around this amazing place!

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From Yogyakarta we flew to Makassar for an overnight transit before flying to Sarong early the next morning. Once we reached Sarong we jumped on a boat and travelled two hours to the village of Waisai where we met some beautiful Raja Ampat school children.

Wasai Village

We were treated like celebrities when we arrived with all the school kids lining the balconies of the school cheering for our arrival.

Taman Bacaan Pelangi is a non-profit organisation working to establish children’s libraries in remote areas of Eastern Indonesia. With the support of volunteers and donors from around the world, there have been 37 children’s libraries established across 14 islands in Indonesia. These libraries mean that kids in remote areas of Indonesia are given access to books and stories to help with their learning and open up a whole new world of opportunity for them.

In groups of 3 we went into a classroom and had to tell our story to the kids. They really wanted to hear all about our lives. They told us what they were learning and what they wanted to be when they grew up. The little girl right in the middle of the photo below was so smart and her favourite book to read was the dictionary which melted my heart because she really wanted to do something with her life.

The beautiful children of Raja Ampat telling us what they have been learning, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The beautiful children of Raja Ampat telling us what they have been learning, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Loved these girls, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Loved these girls, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Once we finished in the classrooms it was time for a group photo and Laura and I got swamped by all the girls wanting to hold our hands and get photos with us. It cracked me up that they all had mobile phones. They were all so adorable and I wanted to take them all home with me!

Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

I was sad to leave but we still had a two hour boat ride to get to the Raja Ampat Dive Lodge where we were staying for the next 3 nights!

Arriving in paradise, Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, West Papua, Indonesia
Arriving in paradise, Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, West Papua, Indonesia

Straight off the boat we dumped our bags and all went for a swim in the warm tropical waters. It was so refreshing and I didn’t want to get out but it was almost time for sunset and I wasn’t missing out of photographing the crazy sunsets that you get in the tropics.

Tropical sunset bliss, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Tropical sunset bliss, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

After witnessing one of the most beautiful sunsets that seemed to go on forever it was time for dinner at the lodge which was delicious. The next morning I was up early to photograph the sunrise. Even though there wasn’t a lot of colour it was nice to just wander around the dive lodge with it being so quiet.

Sunrise, Raja Ampat style, West Papua, Indonesia
Sunrise, Raja Ampat style, West Papua, Indonesia

Then it was time to jump back on the boat and head to Pianemo which was the No. 1 place I was so looking forward to seeing on this entire trip.

Pianemo

Raja Ampat is famous for its coral Islands and the most famous being Pianemo. The water surrounding these islands is clear blue and the perfect temperature. It’s a bit of a scramble up the hill to the top of some of the islands as they are still in there raw, untampered state which is nice to see. The quantity and variety of marine life here is so great that scientists have described this area as a biological hotspot and believe that the reef systems here act to restock reefs throughout the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Our group stopped at the Cape Star hill which gave us views over the islands that make up a star as you can see in the picture below:

View from the top of Cape Star, Pianemo, Indonesia
View from the top of Cape Star, Pianemo, Indonesia
Views to the other way at Cape Star hill, Pianemo, Idonesia
Views to the other way at Cape Star hill, Pianemo, Indonesia

After enjoying this amazing view and taking a dip because it was a scorching hot day we jumped back on the boat and headed over to the main Pianemo lookout. Climbing about 250 steps gets you to the top of the coral island that overlooks a huge area of Pianemo. There are two viewpoints from the top of this hill and they are breathtaking.

Views from Pianemo lookout, Indonesia
Views from Pianemo lookout, Indonesia

After almost dying of heat stroke it was time to head back to our dive lodge for some lunch and a rest in the shade.

Mansuar Island

After lunch we climbed back on the boat to visit the other side of the island that we were staying on – Mansuar Island – for some snorkelling. When we arrived at the jetty there were kids everywhere swimming in the clearest water I have ever seen. They were having so much fun – even with the simplest thing like a foam box.

I didn’t end up snorkelling because I was too busy having fun with all the kids. They were just beautiful.

The gorgeous kids of Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The gorgeous kids of Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Such a little cutie! Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Such a little cutie! Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Such a simple way of life! Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Such a simple way of life! Mansuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

After having fun with the kids it was time to leave and quickly make our way by boat to Sawinggrai Village to catch the sunset.

Sawinggrai Village

Sawinggrai village has 36 families and is famous for the Bird of Paradise (not the plant like we have here in Australia, but the actual bird!). The Red Bird of Paradise is the special icon of the village of Sawinggrai.

I didn’t end up seeing the Bird of Paradise while I was there but I did witness another magical sunset just as my camera decided to stop working.

I did manage to click one or two shots before that happened though.

Sunsets at Sawinggrai Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Sunsets at Sawinggrai Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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Then it was back to the dive lodge for another delicious Indonesian style dinner and bed.

Arborek Village

The next day we enjoyed a lazy breakfast and then jumped on the boat to head over to Arborek Village where we were greeted by a group of young girls performing a traditional dance for us. Unfortunately we were not allowed to record the dance so I can’t show you but they were so talented.

After the dance was finished we were welcomed into the village by the locals and then had time to explore the village, talk to the people that live there, enjoy some snorkelling and try some traditional food.

Arborek has a population of 197 and the village has lots of homestay options available. It is also an amazing place to snorkel or dive. You can simply put your head under the water near the jetty and see an array of reef fish.

Arborek Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Arborek Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The beautiful children of Arborek Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The beautiful children of Arborek Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Loving the brightly coloured houses at Arborek Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Loving the brightly coloured houses at Arborek Village, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Pasir Timbul

After enjoying some traditional West Papua food it was time to say good bye to these friendly and hospitable people and catch the boat to a destination that now has been placed No.1 on my list of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

When the boat pulled up and anchored in the ocean and I looked out the window I couldn’t believe my eyes. I honestly don’t think my photos do this place justice. It truly is the closest thing to paradise that I have ever experienced.

This place is only accesible during certain tides and we only had an hour to swim and explore here. I literally swam the entire time that I was there. After we left I was disappointed with myself that I didn’t get my camera out. I think it is the first time that I forgot to take photos and actually just enjoyed the moment. That is saying a lot because photography always comes first.

Luckily, 5 minutes before we had to leave I grabbed my Go Pro and I did a quick run around taking photos.

Famous Indonesian singer songwriter Budi @budidoremi__ welcoming us with song, Pasir Timbal, Indonesia
Famous Indonesian singer songwriter Budi @budidoremi__ welcoming us with song, Pasir Timbal, Indonesia
Drone views over Pasir Timbal. Photo by @_danieltran_
Drone views over Pasir Timbal. Photo by @_danieltran_
Trying to get my last fix of this amazing place, Pasir Timbal, Indonesia. Photo by @_danieltran_
Trying to get my last fix of this amazing place, Pasir Timbal, Indonesia. Photo by @_danieltran_
Floating around in paradise! Can you spot us? Photo by @_danieltran_
Floating around in paradise! Can you spot us? Photo by @_danieltran_

I really didn’t want to leave Pasir Timbal but the tide was coming in and unfortunately we had to leave.

Back to Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

We headed back to Raja Ampat Dive Lodge for one more amazing sunset, one more swim and one last group dinner.

The last Raja sunset, Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, West Papua, Indonesia
The last Raja sunset, Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, West Papua, Indonesia
Dan and I making the most of our last afternoon in Raja Ampat. Photo by @lauraalycebell
Dan and I making the most of our last afternoon in Raja Ampat. Photo by @lauraalycebell

The next morning four of us got up early and kayaked to a unique looking coconut tree that we had heard about. Dan found it on his drone the day before so we knew exactly where to find it. It was a gorgeous calm morning and the perfect way to finish off the trip.

Coconut Tree hangs, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Coconut Tree hangs, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Kayaking back from that awesome coconut tree. Photo by @_danieltran_
Kayaking back from that awesome coconut tree. Photo by @_danieltran_

Three days spent exploring this amazing part of the planet was so much fun and three days I will never forget. I cannot recommend this place enough and you should add it to your bucket list. I am so thankful that I got to experience this paradise.

Have you been to Raja Ampat before? What was your experience like? I would love to know so leave a comment below.

Big thanks to the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia for taking me to this amazing place and to Raja Ampat Dive Lodge for the amazing food, rooms and hospitality.

The next stop on my Exploring Indonesia trip was Bali which you can read about here. Don’t miss the awesome video at the end full of photos and fun.

14 thoughts on “Exploring Indonesia: Raja Ampat

  1. Can you go blue with envy! Like the colour of the water Pasir Timbal! Once again Larissa you’ve captured the essence of this beautiful unspoilt place with both your words and images. Looks and sounds like you had an amazing time. Makes what to there tomorrow! PS. The palm tree shot, every ‘togs dream composition!

    1. Haha, thanks so much Steve. I can understand the envy. If I was reading about someone else going there I would feel the same. It sure is paradise and I am so thankful that I got to experience it. And yes, wish I had more time at that awesome coconut tree! 🙂

    1. Awww, hi Deke! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it! Im so glad you enjoyed the blog! 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for sharing Larissa, I actually had no idea that Raja Ampat existed…all I can say is WOW! The colour of that water is like nothing I have ever seen before.

    What an experience also to meet the locals and learn more about their culture. The children at Wasai Village look like the happiest people…I wish I could have meet them also!

    I think Raja Ampat is now no. 1 on my bucket list!

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Andrew. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and Im really glad you enjoyed the blog. Raja Ampat sure is an amazing place and I hope that you get to see it one day soon! 🙂

  3. What an incredible experience Larissa! Raja Ampat looks like paradise and the locals look like the most amazing people! Thank you so much for sharing, this blog has made my day!!

    1. You’re so welcome Ella. Im so glad you enjoyed the blog! Raja Ampat sure is paradise. The most beautiful place I have ever been and still quite raw and untouched. I hope you get to visit there one day soon! 🙂

  4. Once again you have shown not only the beauty of these amazing places, but you have captured their soul! Larissa your digital storytelling is without a doubt one of the greatest things I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. The way you place yourself in the shots of these epic and truly beautiful locations is mind blowingly amazing, and being able to see the stunning details and inner awesomeness capture by your eye is truly something special. The day I discovered your instagram feed was the beginning of a journey following the eyes, heart and soul of an amazing human being with a special gift. Thankyou once again.!! 😬🙏🏻👌😘

    1. Anthony, your kind and heartfelt words always blow me away. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such lovely comment. I truly appreciate it and Im so glad that you enjoy reading my silly stories and following along on Instagram. I feel blessed that I got to experience this amazing country and I am glad that I can share my stories and pictures with wonderful people like yourself! Thank you once again! 🙏

  5. Raja Ampat has been on my dream diving destination list for so long, your photos have made me want to go even more…just added them to my vision boards! Really love your work!

    1. Thanks so much Louise. Raja Ampat is certainly amazing. I hope you get the chance to dive there really soon! 🙂

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