Featured House Reef: Misool Resort | Raja Ampat

Misool Resort has, quite possibly, one of the largest house reefs of all the resorts we visit in Indonesia. You could also argue that Misool’s reef is one of the best as it’s not only beautiful, but there are so many different features to it, like the blacktip reef shark nursery, the turtle feeding grounds, or the resident school of bumphead parrotfish that always keep it interesting! One thing that a lot of guests love, particularly those staying in any of the North Lagoon villas or water cottages, is that you can access the house reef from your front porch at higher tides. That being said, out of convenience for storing your snorkeling gear and the tidal changes, the easiest place to enter the reef is from the main jetty/dock in front of The Hive—where all your snorkeling gear can be conveniently stored. I say the jetty/dock is the best place to enter the reef by because you can do so at any time. At lower tides you can not enter from your villas or water cottages as there is just not enough water in the lagoon for you to swim out of, also, at times the current can be a little bit strong, and exiting the lagoon to access the main reef can be a bit of a challenge.

Part of what keeps Misool Resort’s house reef so active with marine life and corals are the currents that it regularly has. Current = Life. At most times of the day, the currents will be quite mild, but you will most likely notice some current especially in the channel and on the point of the island. In mild conditions, you can swim against the current without too much effort, especially in the shallows, which will allow you to snorkel the reef however you please. However, around full or new moon the currents can be quite strong and you won’t likely be able to swim against it, even the strongest swimmers. During the few days when the currents are less amenable, you’ll want to talk with our Snorkel Venture guide or Misool’s staff about the best route for snorkeling the reef as you’ll need to plan your snorkel a bit more. This is nothing out of the ordinary or anything to be concerned about, it’s something that happens at just about every house reef we snorkel during the days around the full or new moon when the currents are at their strongest. There are plenty of spots to snorkel the house reef in stronger currents.

The Channel, as we call it, is the area in front of The Hive and starts with a beautiful coral plateau in the shallows that gently starts to slope away from the island. This gentle slope then turns into a more steep slope with coral bommies covered in sea fans and sponges, some sandy patches, and a few coral restoration projects spearheaded by Misool Resort. The area under and around the pier is particularly interesting as this is where a lot of the bigger fish will live, including giant groupers, lots of big snappers, Napoleon wrass, several different species of jack fish—including the giant trevally, and many larger blacktip reef sharks. From the jetty, you can go either direction, with Misool’s island on your right or left shoulder. If you go with the island on your left, that beautiful coral plateau and slope continues all the way down to the rock outcropping and beyond. If you continue around the rock outcropping you’ll find yourself in the South Beach Area. This is another cool place to snorkel, not quite as pretty as the channel side, but worth a visit at some point. However, if you do go around the corner into South Beach you’ll likely have to walk back to the north side via the manicured stone pathway. Sometimes the current can push into South Beach and it can be a bit of an effort to swim back around. If you know you’re going to go into South Beach and you don’t want to walk you can also have the tin tender boat come pick you up at a designated time.

I suspect that many of you seeing Misool’s reef for the first time from an aerial perspective are looking at the stunning blue hole just off the shores of South Beach. I hate to disappoint, but it’s prettier from the aerial perspective. There are some corals that line the edge, but mostly it’s just a sandy bottom. The best corals and marine life are found in the areas where there is more water movement, and this area just doesn’t have that much water movement.

So, if you don’t go into South Beach our suggestion would be to turn around as you get to the rocky outcropping and then swim back towards The Hive. If you’re ready to get out you can exit via the wooden steps on the resort’s jetty/dock, or you can swim under the footbridge if the tide is high and the current isn’t too strong and enter the North Lagoon. There isn’t a ton of coral in the North Lagoon, a lot of the reef is sort of scrubby and not too lively on account of the warmer temperatures in the bay. However, North Lagoon is a fantastic place to spend your time as dozens of green sea turtles can be found in here munching on the sea grass growing out of the white sand. Along with the turtles, you’ll likely find blacktip reef sharks passing by, giant clams, and if you’re lucky the bumpheads will be in there munching on the hard corals closer to the mouth of the lagoon.

When you’re ready to exit you can either swim back to your villa or water cottage if you would like, but our suggestion would be to exit either where you entered at the jetty, or on the other wooden steps next to the foot bridge on the inside The Lagoon. At times the current will be a bit strong and you won’t be able to swim back under the bridge to get to the main jetty. Both locations will put you right at the base of The Hive where you can store your snorkeling gear.

At low very tides the reef can be completely exposed

Another popular route is to enter at the main jetty/dock and swim with The Hive on your left shoulder towards the point of the island. The beautiful reef continues this way as well, however, as you get closer to the little private villa on your left the slope turns into more of a wall, and as you get close to the point you’ll likely notice quite a bit of fish action out in the blue, especially fusileers. At this time you can either turn around and head back to the jetty/dock, or continue around the corner. The reef is now a gentle slope/plateau in the shallows and a steep wall lined with sea fans and soft corals. This is a great spot to look for more turtles cruising in the blue, more blacktip reef sharks, and schools of fish like big eye jacks, more fusileers, the bumpheads, among many of the other staple reef creatures.. If the tide is higher you can enter the North Lagoon and spend some time with the turtles and blacktips before exiting at your room or by the footbridge.

Finally, something we like to do with guests when there isn’t much current is to swim the short distance across the channel and explore the neighboring island’s reef which is also a part of Misool Resort. The shallow reef here is stunning and at points drops off into a vertical wall. Like the other reefs around the resort, you can expect a lot of beautiful reef fish and larger species Napoleon wrasse, bumpheads, jackfish, and of course reef sharks.

As you can see from this aerial photo there are a lot of different areas to explore at Misool, far more than I’ve just laid out. You can choose to explore the reef however you choose. That being said, for your own safety and comfort it’s always best to speak with your Snorkel Venture guide or the Misool Resort staff before heading out onto the house so they can point you in the best direction given the current situation…pun intended.

With regards to marine life, there’s a ton of things to find on this expansive reef. In North Lagoon’s inner parts where the sand is, you’ll find green sea turtles feeding on the seagrass, as you move out of it you’ll start to find your typical reef creatures, like octopus, nudibranchs, lionfish, and more turtles—including hawksbill sea turtles. On any of the reefs, you will surely find lots of different types of juvenile species like barramundi cod, various angel fishes, and sweetlips along with the adult version of these species. The resident schooling bumphead parrotfish can turn up at any point, along with schools of smaller parrotfish species. The larger fish like the jacks, snappers, groupers, and Napoleon wrasse tend to hang out in the channel areas right in front of the resort’s pier or right under it. Where even larger species are concerned, blacktip reef sharks are seen everywhere–from the very shallows to the deeper slopes, and if you are super lucky you can spot things like eagle rays and even mantas cruising along the reef’s edges.

About Author

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Alex Lindbloom
Alex is a Snorkel Venture and Dive Safari Asia guide as well as the video and photo pros for both companies. Alex is also a field editor for a popular underwater photography magazine. Prior to joining Snorkel Venture in 2018 Alex lived and worked all over the world working as an underwater cameraman, with five of those years living/working on a yacht in Indonesia. Alex's images and videos have garnered many international awards such as Underwater Photographer of the Year and can be seen on NatGeo, Discovery Channel, the UN Building, and various magazines.