7 day Charter Sorong to Sorong
Written by Missy Johnston
Raja Ampat Islets
Board your charter yacht in Sorong, which is less than one degree south of the equator on the west coast of West Papua. Once on board and settled in, the yacht will cruise to the island of Misool, and island of the Four Kingdoms. This is an area where few venture, and it is not uncommon to enjoy deserted anchorages, where your yacht may be the only yacht around. The water is beautiful and crystal clear, in shades of blue and green, filled with coral gardens and underwater marine life. On the many rock islets, do not be surprised to see various species of orchids growing in the wild.
On Shore Forest
Raja Ampat translates into English as Four Kings, and so Four Kingdoms, which is derived from local mythology about four kings that occupy the four big islands; Salawati, Batanta, Waigeo and Misool. The entire archipelago includes over 1,500 small islands, with thousands of species of flora and fauna that are epidemic to the region.
Marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth; however, this is hard to state firmly as new species are still being discovered in Raja Ampat never before seen. It is the Coral Triangle in which Raja Ampat sits, which is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity.
The large island of Misool lies at the point where the Pacific currents meet with the Indian Ocean, creating a nutrient rich maritime area that supports beautiful and extensive coral gardens and over 1000 species of fish and 15 species of mammals. There is truly a wide diversity of hard coral to be discovered by snorkelers and scuba divers alike as three quarters of the world’s various hard corals can be found underwater in this area. Underwater see everything from the pygmy sea horse, to sea turtles, and manta rays with a wingspan of over 6 feet. While hikers ashore have an excellent chance of spotting the rare birds of paradise and the tree kangaroo.
Cruise around the island of Misool. The island itself is heavily forested, while surround the island are many pinnacles that poke straight up out of the crystal clear water to the skies above. As the main rock in this area is limestone, the water after centuries and millenniums has worn away, leaving these pinnacles, along with troughs washed into the underside of islands, at the waterline, giving some bits of land an unusual mushroom shape. Also due to the soft limestone, there are many caves and little pockets worn into the cliffsides. Don’t be surprised to see in the little cliffside pockets, skeletons that could be centuries old, with the pocket used as the gravesite.
Village Elders Graves Guarding Cave Entrance
Misool is home to ancient cultural sites. A number of petroglyphs can be found on walls of caves throughout the island, dating back approximately 5,000 years. Sea kayak through a local cave guarded at the entrance by the graves of two village elders buried centuries ago. Inside the waters and temperature is cool and refreshing.
Visit Wayilbatan Lagoon, a beautiful sheltered lagoon surrounded by rocky peaks. The few beaches there are boast bright white sand. Given the sheltered water, this is a terrific location to enjoy sea kayaks and standup paddleboards. There are 3 scuba diving sites in this area: Four Kings where pelagic marine life might be seen, Wedding Cake, home to pygmy sea horses, and Neptune’s Fansea featuring fabulous sea fans and coral formations home to schools of glass fish.
Cruise to Balbulol Lagoon, another sheltered location for sea kayaking, standup paddle boarding and swimming. This is a bird watcher’s paradise. Nearby are three rocky islands named Fiabacet, which is an excellent scuba diving location at a depth of around 20 meters along underwater coral walls with butterflyfish, porcupinefish, parrotfish, grouper, boxfish, and sea turtles.
Cruise to the island of Waigeo also one of the islands of the Four Kingdoms. Heading ashore, hikers will be treated to crimson Birds of Paradise, plumed herons, frilled and giant monitor lizards and honey eaters. While scuba divers and snorkelers can see blue-striped flagtail pipefish, pygmy seahorses, green sea turtles, giant napoleon Wrasse, sea dragons, and Indian lionfish, along with white-tipped and black-tipped sharks.
Cruise to the island group of Penemu, a cluster of limestone “mushroom” domes, covered with lush green vegetation. Within the island group is a shallow green water bay perfect for water sports, swimming, and using sea kayaks and standup paddleboards. On one of the islands there is a 316 step wooden staircase to the top of the peak, for hardy hikers, where there is a spectacular view of the surrounding area. Close by for scuba divers and snorkelers are Batu Rufus, My Reef, and Melissa’s Garden.
Arborek Village Greeting Sign
Village “Pop-Up” Shop
Later in the afternoon head ashore to one of the few villages in Raja Ampat, the village or Arborek. The villagers or very friendly but do have strict rules of dress and behavior that they wish to have observed, as outlined on home made signs posted on the village dock. Ashore there may be sudden “pop-ups” shops that appear on the front porches of village homes with various shells, and perhaps handicrafts made from pandanus leaves.
Cruise back to Sorong to disembark for your flight. There are no quality hotels in Sorong, so either start the international flight home, or fly back to Bali or Jakarta for several more days in a resort.