Raja Ampat Biodiversity

We spent an amazing week with Deni, but all good things come to an end. Our friend Maryse had been raving about her stay with Raja Ampat Biodiversity, the amazing dives, and the incredible food. So, Steve and I huddled around our small pile of cash to figure out if it would even be possible for us to afford a stay at Biodiversity. And we could, we could afford exactly one night, paid in Indonesian Rupiahs and US Dollars. But by the time we got back to them they were full. Solution: we slept on the floor of the budget room, that wasn’t even finished yet. Rey and Patricia (the amazingly generous owners) were able to provide us with a sleeping mat, linens and a mosquito net….which honestly was all we needed.

raja ampat biodiversity budget bungalow

Our last minute budget digs… so perfect!!!

This has got to be one of the best places to stay in Raja Ampat! Completely unpretentious, knowledgeable owners, amazing food….and the location on Gam Island is nearly pristine. It doesn’t matter where you are on the property of the eco-resort you’re a mere few feet from the jungle or the reef.

raja ampat biodiversity

When we were there they had two beautiful beachfront bungalows. I’m not sure if they’re planning to buid more or not

The food was amazing!!! They are truly blessed to have such an amazing chef…. so many flavors. I wanted to keep eating well after the point of being full.

raja ampat biodiversity

All of our meals were served here….loved dining in the open air

We went diving at Blue Magic, a wall dive (that I unfortunately don’t remember the name) and their house reef. All the dives were amazing and literally teeming with life. AND they were long!!! I’m talking 85-90 minutes. It doesn’t get much better than that. I’m really hoping Steve will put together a video of our dives.

raja ampat biodiversity view

The view…not too shabby

I’m thinking Steve and I will need to come back here…maybe an anniversary trip???? It would be amazing to be able to spend more than 1 1/2 days with Biodiversity….next time we’ll definitely budget for an entire week.

Arborek Island in Raja Ampat

Toward the end of our trip we stopped at Arborek Island to use the phone so we could arrange a stay and scuba diving with Raja Ampat Biodiversity on Gam Island (they have a tower that you can climb to get signal). Our afternoon at Arborek was spent walking around the village and snorkeling around the dock with it’s beautiful coral formations and a GIANT school of fish!!!

We will always remember Arborek. When we pulled up to the dock and peered over the edge of the boat we realized that what looked like seagrass was really a giant school of fish that was atleast 20 feet deep. I’d never seen anything like it. Obviously we jumped in to freedive with the fish. GoPro for the win!!!

Giant school of fish in Raja Ampat from thescubageek on Vimeo.

Our home for the night... we pitched the tents under the awnings and tied tarps to the side to protect us from the crazy wind and rain

Our home for the night… we pitched the tents under the awnings and tied tarps to the side to protect us from the crazy wind and rain

Arborek Raja Ampat

Beautiful little beach on Arborek…

And then a storm moved in….and we were stuck on the boat, rain was coming in from the ceiling, from the doors, the wind was insane and the boat would not stop rocking. By the time the storm “settled” down it was after dark, the staff shuttled us over to the dock pair by pair where we practically had to leap from the boat onto the dock and hoist ourselves up….it was complete madness. And then the staff shuttled our tents, sleeping mats and dinner over to the dock…and we had to time the pass-off of the goods with the waves. It was a rough evening, with a cold dinner. Atleast we didn’t have to sleep on the boat that night and the staff tied tarps to the awning on the dock to block some of the wind. We only had to deal with the dock rocking and the waves crashing down below. Needless to say, we called it an early night and went to bed right after dinner.

Raja Ampat Arborek local boats

Even the locals were bringing their boats in.

Raja Ampat Arborek Storm

At this point the storm was moving in fast, so our island exploration was cut a bit short

The incredible storm made Arborek quite memorable, but the island itself was pretty charming in its own right and I was able to snap a couple of pretty shots and a handful of pics of the kids.

Arborek homestay driftwood and coral

Driftwood and coral at one of the homestays

Raja Ampat Arborek Flowers

I love taking pics of flowers

Raja Ampat Arborek

The kids were playing what looked like a game of “capture the ‘coconut'” combined with dodgeball

Raja Ampat kids

Curious kids took a short break from their game to check us out

This little guy was pulling a ball attached to a string and a stick... easily entertained

This little guy was pulling a ball attached to a string and a stick… easily entertained

Curious onlookers...

Curious onlookers…

They start them young...these kids are fishing off the dock with just fishing line and a hook....no pole needed

They start them young…these kids are fishing off the dock with just fishing line and a hook….no pole needed

So curious about everything we did...

So curious about everything we did…

Someday we’ll get back to Arborek….hopefully it won’t be so stormy next time.

Raja Ampat

What’s a person to do with no money in Raja Ampat? Book a trip with Deni at Raja Ampat Adventures….well you still need money…atleast 7 million rupiah (plus your park fees). I’m pretty sure Deni’s trip is the most affordable trip to get out to the islands. Just bring your sense of adventure with you. Sleeping on a fishing boat and camping might sound romantic, but it can make for a long week of less than stellar sleep. But who cares when you’re in Raja Ampat.

It only gets more beautiful!!!

It only gets more beautiful!!!

We spent a week island hopping with Deni, snorkeling with sharks at Wayag, climbing up limestone formations, snorkeling in secret lagoons and sleeping on deserted islands. Steve and I are used to “roughing it” so using the loo off the back of the boat, sleeping on the ground, and crabs cruising around our sleeping mats just added to the fun.

Raja Ampat Hidden Bay

Twilight at Hidden Bay… the bats were in full swing and the stars were just beginning to come out…

Raja Ampat might be the most pristine place we’ve ever been to. I’m even tempted to call it magical; jungle capped islands sit on top of pristine coral reef teeming with fish and locals that still live a mostly traditional way of life.

Raja Ampat Bat Island

An easy morning on Bat Island

Raja Ampat Wayag

The view from the top of one of the limestone formations…EPIC… look how small our boats are down there.

Raja Ampat Wayag

And looking the opposite direction…

Raja Ampat sharks at Wayag

Our snorkel mates for the afternoon… and I’m not being facetious…check out the video!

Click here for snorkeling pics…

And here are some pics of snorkeling through a cave and in the mangroves.

Want to see more Raja Ampat pics? Check back for my for my Raja Ampat Photo Blog.



Underwater in Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat snorkeling with sharks  at Wayag

Hey mate….

Raja Ampat Soft Corals


Sharks at Wayag

Another one….

Raja Ampat Wayag Coral

Beautiful coral right next to the pier

coral reef


Free-diving Raja Ampat

Deni freediving next to these beautiful soft corals.

Shallow water snorkeling

Shallow water snorkeling

staghorn raja ampat

Staghorn coral just below the surface

raja ampat coral reef

Raja’s healthy coral reef

We took some video of snorkeling with the sharks on our GoPro….and it turned out pretty great.


Sorong: Gateway to the Raja Ampat Islands

This past June Steve and I were in the final months of our Southeast Asia and were looking forward to spending a week plus in West Papua and Raja Ampat. This part of Indonesia is EXPENSIVE… you feel the money flying out of your pockets as you walk down the street. Our home-base was Sorong, a gritty little town which most tourists never see because they are quickly shuttled out to the islands.

Raja Ampat Pano

Raja Ampat might be the end goal, but why not enjoy the journey…

When we landed at Domine Edward Osok Airport I headed through customs a few people ahead of Steve, big mistake. The customs and immigration guys grilled me like I was a mule transporting drugs. They wanted to know everywhere I had been within the last 6 months and none of my answers were good enough. I was starting to get really upset and irritated with these guys, they were RELENTLESS. I was about to jump across the counter and punch them in the face; luckily, Steve walked up, said he was my husband and everything from there on out was “business as usual.” Why must women always be grilled when alone in this country!!! I learned my lesson, it’s better to go through immigration and customs with Steve than without him. My advice: just smile and keep your answers SIMPLE.

Our plan however was to arrive in Sorong a day or two before our trip with Deni and Raja Ampat Adventures to explore the area. Well, there aren’t any tourist facilities in Sorong…. no tour agencies, no moto rentals, and not much for restaurants. We stayed one night at the moldy, mildewy Hotel Tanjung for $20-25 a night. We promptly decided that one night was enough and moved over to the Hotel Waigo, which at the time was going through a renovation. We stayed in one of the cheaper economy/standard rooms in the older, unremodeled section for about $48 a night. Bonus: Hotel Waigo has free WiFi, breakfast is included and the downstairs lobby gets great light. Just be warned: if you aren’t staying at one of the nice tourist hotels like the JE Meridien (right across from the airport and also the location of the Raja Ampat Tourist Office) the staff at the hotel will speak little to no English, so learn some Bahasa!!!!

There are ATMs at the airport, the JE Meridien (which lets you take out 2.5 million rupiah), and at the supermarkets.

Night seafood warung set up along the waterfront across from the soccer field in the evening and they serve up just about anything from the sea, so there are plenty of options. There are loads of vendors that sell fried snacks and bottled drinks in the same area (Pantai Lido).

The local market is also a good place to grab some cheap fruits…try some betel nut…buy a neon baby chick or to stock up on miscellaneous things that keep disappearing during your travels…ie. sunglasses and flip flops/rubber shoes. And you’ll be treated like a celebrity…complete with paparazzi and people wanting to touch you. I found it charming, but I’d suggest skipping it if you’re weirded out by intimate contact with strangers or simply don’t feel like having your pic taken.

Sorong Salak Vendors

The friendliest Salak vendors in Sorong

Sorong Betel Nut Vendors

Betel nut anyone????


Sorong baby chicks

I don’t think PETA would approve…

Also, if you’re flying Merpati expect your flight to be canceled or delayed. They are notorious for changing and canceling flights. It’s incredibly frustrating, but we eventually learned to deal with it. After our trip with Deni we ended up having a couple extra days in Sorong, thanks to the lovely folks at Merpati, so we called up our new friend Alex, who happened to have the day off and was able to show us the local side of Sorong. I will write up a post about our day with Alex as soon as I can.

Sorong Celebrities

Kiddos on an island just a short boat ride from the Sorong Harbor

Sorong Alex Steve Autumn

Alex, Steve and I went to the beach just outside of town.


Snorkeling with Sharks at Wayag Island


We had an awesome time snorkeling with these sharks in Raja Ampat. When we pulled up to the dock at Wayag Island these guys were already cruising in the shallows… obviously they are used to the presence of humans, but they were still curious and a couple of times they got a little closer than I would like. But what an amazing experience.

Thank you Deni and the Raja Ampat Adventures crew!