The Raja Ampat archipelago, West Papua, is the stuff of dreams.
Thousands of curvy, jungle-clad islands are surrounded by a clarity of water which has an almost hyper-real quality such is its perfect and pristine presentation. And it’s not an exaggeration to state that within the translucent ocean is some of the most extraordinary marine life in the world. In fact, the Raja Ampat is home to 75% of the world’s coral species and more than 1,500 types of tropical fish.
Our Travel Designer Steph recently explored this ocean paradise when she boarded the Dunia Baru, a luxurious 51-metre Indonesian phinisi made from polished teak with interiors carved by Balinese artisan craftsmen. To say that Steph was wowed by this mesmerising part of the world would be an understatement. Although extremely well-travelled she described Raja Ampat as ‘a truly incredible, remote marine wilderness well worth shouting about’.
Upon boarding the sleek vessel, Steph was impressed with the roomy ship, each of the capacious seven cabins had an ensuite and the master suite opened out onto its own private deck furnished with an inviting day bed. Elsewhere there were plenty of spaces to relax, from indoor and outdoor dining areas, to padded seating which turned into a cocktail bar at night. This vessel would make the most amazing family holiday or multi-generational group for up to 14 passengers celebrating a special occasion, and with 20 crew on board, you’d be extremely well-looked after.
Exploring the ship was just the start of Steph’s adventures, and as the beautiful boat unfurled its chocolate-coloured sails into the wind, they began to discover the islets, wispy white-sand beaches and the underwater world of the Raja Ampat. Here, the water is so clear, the Dunia Baru seems to hover unfeasibly on the surface of the sea.
Just below, Steph discovered a kaleidoscopic world. Not a diver, she was amazed that just two metres below the surface was a huge array of fish and diversity of coral garden. Steph describes it as one of the most phenomenal snorkelling experiences of her life, where she swam with turtles, giant manta rays, pigmy seahorses, reef sharks, clownfish and many, many more. On their way north to Wayag Island, and as the boat drifted over the equator, a pod of dolphin began tracking the vessel, then minutes later she had glimpse of a minke whale. Mind truly blown, Steph and her fellow passengers took to a remote beach for an evening BBQ, to take stock of their incredibly pristine environment. At that point, it was noted that they had only seen two other boats for their entire six -night trip.
Exploring the Raja Ampat, long journey it may be, offers a truly exclusive and privileged view of one of the most pristine marine environments in the world. There’s a handful of eco resorts here, but a seven-night boat charter takes you even further into this untouched wilderness.
‘Getting-away-from-it-all’ may be a hackneyed phrase, but here it rings true.