RAJA AMPAT

Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo, and the smaller island of Kofiau. Raja Ampat is new regency which separated from Sorong regency at 2004.  It encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia. It is a part of the newly named West Papua (province) of Indonesia which was formerly Irian Jaya. The islands are the most northern pieces of land in the Australian continent.

According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.

The Raja Ampat in Irian Jaya is not one of the most visited diving areas in the world which is strange since almost everyone who knows anything about the area agrees that there can surely be nowhere better on earth. Boasting the highest marine diversity on the planet, beautiful topside scenery and awesome underwater topography diving Raja Ampat is as close as you can get to underwater heaven.

To stand on the bow of your liveaboard boat as it cuts through the clear water towards verdant islands, inhabited by people whose lives are so different to your own, really creates that frontier diving kind of feeling.

Not many Indonesia liveaboards cover the Raja Ampat scuba diving sites around Irian Jaya making the exploration of this fabulous area even more special. Some of the highlights include the innumerable war wrecks, both ships and planes (with new wrecks being discovered constantly), encounters with dolphins, Misool Island and the simplicity of drifting effortlessly over some of the most pristine and fascinating coral scenes imaginable.

Underwater enthusiasts flock to this region because it offers the world’s best marine sights. Two days earlier, some of these travelers had been at a deafening corner of a tourist trap in Bali. Once they took their flight to the bird head of the island of Papua everything changed as they embarked on a diving tour of a lifetime. In the Raja Ampat islands, divers can explore vertical underwater walls. The thrill of drift diving is another great challenge. These are the awesome experiences you will find in Raja Ampat.

More facts about the Raja Ampat Conservation Area:

This area is home to 1,511 species of reef fish in the Bird’s Head Seascape;
1,320 species of reef fish in Raja Ampat;
75% of all known coral species in the world;
10 times the number of hard coral species found in the entire Caribbean;
In the Birds Head Seascape there 600 species of hard coral recorded;
5 species of endangered sea turtles;
57 species of Mantis Shrimp;
13 species of Marine Mammals;
And 27 species of endemic reef fish found only in that area.

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~ by ferry1984 on August 2, 2011.

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