Raja Ampat’s Top 5 Snorkeling Sites
snorkeler swimming through overhang in reef

The Top 5 spots for Snorkelling Raja Ampat

Alongside Indonesia’s Komodo, snorkelling Raja Ampat is a paradise with endless opportunities. What makes Raja Ampat so good is its range of shallow reef systems – everything from a variety of corals and reef fish – all seen with outstanding water clarity. What’s more is that Raja Ampat offers more than your typical tropical reefscape. Raja Ampat boasts an impressive diversity of sites, everything from clear blue mangroves to village jetties bursting with colorful life.

Raja Ampat has over 65% of all of the worlds known species of corals which means there is an incomprehensible amount of marine life to see once you are there.

Snorkelling Raja Ampat provides the most pristine and untouched reefs. We have compiled a complete guide of the very best snorkel spots to check out on your next visit:

5) Manta Sandy and Manta Ridge: Dampier Straight

Snorkeler Surrounded by Manta Rays

Manta Sandy and Manta Ridge are easily some of the most popular sites in Raja Ampat, quick hint, it’s not  because of gobies. These two sites, which are part of a large network of sandbars, submerged bays, channels, and several popular cleaning stations offer up everything a manta could ever wish for. The underwater topography is ideal for funneling and trapping plankton on the surface for easy feeding, while the cleaning stations offer them respite from the tiny parasites on their body. What does all this mean for snorkelers? Well, as it’s the most predictable place to see mantas in Raja, it can mean pretty incredible manta encounters right on the surface!

4) Yiliet Beach aka Baby Shark Beach: Misool

baby black tip reef sharks in the shallows

This picturesque white sand beach lined with palm trees and dense jungle is more than just a nice place for a selfie. It also happens to be a nursery for baby black tip reef sharks. Stand at the waters edge and it won’t be long before you start to see little “Jaws” fins breaking the surface. Wade in a bit further and if you manage not to move much the foot long sharks will swim right over your feet! This is a great place to spend a surface interval as you can just pack along your mask and snorkel and float in very shallow water to watch the dozens and dozens of baby sharks swim over the white sand  and refine their inherent predatory skills, starting by ambushing leaves floating on the surface. 

3) Batu Rufus: Piaynemo

school of batfish in coral reef

The reef itself is stunning, with sea fans and sponges growing right up the side of the rock walls of the island, as shallow fields of hard coral extend well beyond the line of visibility. The shallows are a great place to find more turtles, and on this particular site, lots of adolescent baby black tip reef sharks. This is all very beautiful and exciting, but what really sets this site apart from some of the others is its signature arch or window lined with sea fans just beneath the waters surface. That’s not all, the opposite end of the site is where the opening to a lagoon the size of an olympic swimming pool. Be aware though, the lagoon is very shallow and blanketed with fragile hard coral and can only be accessed at high tide. 

2) The Mangroves: Dampier Straight

Snorkeling the mangroves of Raja Ampat is an absolutely magical experience, and unlike any  reef you will ever snorkel. Now, there are mangroves all over the world, but what makes Raja’s mangroves extra special is that the water is clear and the bottom is full of coral and not silt like the other mangroves. As you paddle along and enjoy the serene view of the arching mangrove roots reaching down to the reef from the canopy above to seemingly stitch the two world together, you’re sure to see some unusual suspects. Archer fish, known for spitting a precise arrow of water at insects crawling on the leaves above to knock them into the water, dwell within the chaos of the intertwined roots, along with juvenile batfish and quite often baby sharks who use the area as a nursery. At this point, I know you’re what most of you are thinking, what about crocodiles. Yes, it’s true that salt water crocodiles have been seen in the mangroves of Raja Ampat before, however, if you go to the right mangroves, the chances of seeing a crocodile are about as likely as seeing a polar bear. The area is small and visited daily by the day boats and liveaboards with everyone keeping a keen eye out. In five consecutive years of diving the mangroves every week, I have still yet to see one or hear of one in this particular area. 

1) Sauwandarek Jetty: Dampier Straight

School of fish swirling around pier pilings

Raja Ampat is famous for a number of things as you may already know, the area contains the most coral and fish species, it is home to the first established manta sanctuary, and it’s just really really beautiful! Something else Raja is famous for are it’s jetties, with Sawandarek Villag’s jetty quickly emerging as the most popular. It might sound strange, but beneath the horizontal wood slats of the gangway lies a stunning scene where humans, for once, seem to have created something that benefits the environment. Snorkeling between the vertical wood pilings give the impression of floating though a psychedelic forest as purple and pink soft coral cling to the structure. Fish of all sizes congregate around the jetty as it acts as place of refuge from the serrated jaws of the lurking barracuda and jack fish beyond. If you are really lucky, you may find your self in a swirling silver cloud of scads who occasionally visit the jetty. While the jetty is absolutely the highlight of this area, swim just beyond it and you’ll find yourself in a vast coral garden that goes on for hundreds of meters in either direction.

VIDEO: See how amazing these sites are in this short video.

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Alex Lindbloom