I’d heard stories. I’d been beaten half to death with hyperbole about this place since I first mentioned that I was going to Indonesia's remote jewel - Raja Ampat.
I was not prepared for this…
After a 5 hour flight from Jakarta, and a short stop in the small town of Sorong, we boarded another 2 hour ferry which connected us with two speed boats (keeping up?!), that blasted us towards our eventual destination.
The islands of the Four Kings.
At the end of our Jurassic park style mission, we caught a glimpse of the coloured flags on the jetty, that would be our ‘path to paradise’. I don’t use the word ‘paradise’ lightly, but in this case it was more than justified.
We had arrived at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, our own private resort for the next three days.
Flanked by turquoise waters bedded by colourful corals it was easy to see why Raja Ampat is considered one of the most varied places in the world for marine life. Just snorkeling off the jetty we saw lion fish, puffa fish and the woobegong (a carpet shark native to Indonesia.)
The next day I joined the divers to explore more of the underwater world in this famous diving location. My enthusiasm outweighed my ability and the current was too strong for an Open Water diver, but for those with more experience - turtles and sharks were just a few of the treats that were in store in the choppy waters.
Out of the sea there was still plenty to keep the eyes twinkling. A visit to Arborek village, a traditional village on one of the tiny islands, provided enough pictures to last a lifetime. Colourfully dressed local children held our hands as they paraded us through the village singing songs on the guitar, and shaking their grass skirts with traditional island dances.
As we feasted on our fresh seafood lunch on the beach the village spokesperson told us how local superstitions meant it was forbidden to eat lobster, aubergine or to jump off the jetty (they believe the fish will be scared away and never return.)
Another boat ride across the bouncing blue waters and we arrived at Piaynemo, the crown jewel of the archipelago with one of the best views in Indonesia. A sweaty climb up to a viewpoint, and what lay in front of us was a carpet of green and blue. Tiny rainforest islands surrounded by emerald green waters leading to the backdrop of the deep blue ocean. The perfect place to jump in and cool down after the humid trek.
Returning to our island retreat and the onslaught of beauty continued. I’ve been lucky enough to see some pretty great sunsets on my travels, but this one blew the others out of the water. Oranges, pinks, reds, greens and blues all threw themselves into the mix over the undisturbed ocean, each minute creating a different tapestry.
Waiting like children until the last glimmer of light had faded we returned to the shore, memory cards full, and fairly sure that life doesn’t get much better than this.
A 7 night stay at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge start at $1,375 per person without diving. $1,995 upwards with dives based on 2 people sharing.
Flights direct from Jakarta start at $130 with Batik Air.
Last Stop: The Surfing Shores of Lombok & Gorgeous Gili