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Raja Ampat Islands
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Introducing Raja Ampat Islands

This group of about 1600 mostly uninhabited islands off Sorong has some of the best diving in the world. Little known until the last few years, Raja Ampat’s sheer numbers and diversity of marine life, and its huge, largely pristine coral-reef systems, are a scuba dream come true – and fantastic for snorkellers too. It’s like swimming in a tropical aquarium. The sparsely populated islands are also great for birdwatching and just exploring amid sublime scenery of steep, jungle-covered islands, white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons, spooky caves, weird mushroom-shaped islets and pellucid waters. Travel here is not for super-tight budgets, but new homestay accommodation has made Raja Ampat much more accessible than it was.

The four biggest islands are Waigeo (with the small but fast-growing regional capital, Waisai), Batanta, Salawati and Misool. The Dampier Strait between Waigeo and Batanta has many outstanding dive sites, so most accommodation options are on Waigeo, Batanta or three smaller islands between them: Kri, Gam and Mansuar.