Raja Ampat: Is it Worth the Long Flight?
Aerial view of islands and reef in Raja Ampat

Short answer, definitely yes! Without a doubt. 

Why is Raja Ampat worth the long haul flights from the Americas and Europe? Well, it just so happens that Raja holds the world’s most biodiverse marine life, including the most species of coral and tropical fish. For five years I spent six months a year living on a boat diving and snorkeling Raja Ampat and I still feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of the area. With over 600 islands and who knows how many reefs  you could quite literally spend years exploring the area and still find new things. Not only that, but it’s supremely beautiful both above and below the waters surface. Here’s a little break down of what I most look forward to about snorkeling in Raja Ampat and reasons why Raja is totally worth the jet lag. 

5.   The Islands

many of Indonesian islands

The islandscape is really like something from another world, especially when viewed from above where you can get the full perspective of intricate network of little lagoons and reefs. 

4.  Piers or Jetties

School of fish swirling around pier pilings

Whether you are in the north or south of Raja Ampat there will always be a jetty or pier to snorkel around. What’s so special about these wood structures? They act as a unique safe haven for marine life and the older piers will have a surprising amount of coral encrusting the vertical pilings which only adds to the beauty and uniqueness of this snorkeling experience. 

 3.  Mangroves

There are very few places in the world where you can snorkel around the mangroves and actually enjoy the it. Most mangroves systems are in silty bays and estuaries where the visibility is not much further than the tip of your nose. Raja is unique as it has several mangrove forests that offer phenomenal snorkeling around the arching mangrove roots in clear blue water and a healthy reef beneath the canopy. 

 2.  Mantas

many mantas feeding on the surface

Manta rays are the ocean’s most charismatic ocean resident and it’s not uncommon to encounter these large plankton eating rays while snorkeling in Raja. In fact it’s quite likely as Raja has a very healthy manta population as it’s the world’s first manta sanctuary keeping them well protected. What’s more is that Raja Ampat  is one of the only places in the world where it’s possible to see both species of manta ray, the ocean mantas with their fifteen to twenty foot wing span and the slightly smaller reef mantas with their measly ten to fifteen foot wingspan. 

1.  Reefs

snorkeler swimming through overhang in reef

Since Raja Amapt is the record holder for most species of coral it should come as no surprise when you first dip your face beneath the water’s surface and see the overwhelming beauty and diversity of the reefs. The reefs are teeming with life and in a lot of places reach right up to the surface so for those that like shallow reefs you’ll be able to get your fill no problem!

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Alex Lindbloom