When was the last time you feel hot the sand beneath your feet, the high sun stinging your face, the sultry nautical breeze blowing in your hair, you barely even remember to look at your phone because there's no reception at all and there's nothing to remind you of deadline, meeting or presentation? If you can't recall, it means that you're in serious need of a vacation. In this post, let me take you on a first-hand virtual tour to the less-traveled underwater gem of Eastern Indonesia. Got your munchies ready? Great, now you may scroll down =)
|Welcome to Raja Ampat!|
Manna Indonesia is a new company (est. 2015) that supplies premium & natural Indonesian products such as bird's nest, hand-harvested sea salt, premium flower tea and there will be more products to be added in their portfolio. Despite the young age, Manna Indonesia has already exported their products to Australia, Italy, etc and represented Indonesia in world expos to promote Indonesia's natural products. Recently, Manna Indonesia initiated a pilot project #MannaEncounterRajaAmpat
, supported by the local regency government and by various sponsors, to promote Raja Ampat, as a premium tourism destination. So now the question is, why Raja Ampat?
|When was the last time you find yourself disconnected from the world, away from all the deadlines, meetings and presentations?|
Raja Ampat, an archipelago that recently separated from Sorong Regency on New Guinea island, East Indonesia, is currently more well known among international tourists than among Indonesians, sadly. It is an archipelago that's so rich in its marine biodiversity that it's been considered the global epicenter of tropical marine bio-diversity and world's top 10 diving sites. But currently, average Indonesians have higher probability of going to Singapore than to Raja Ampat. The common excuse being the difficult accessibility, the high cost of getting there, the high living cost, and the ingrained logic is that for the same amount of money, they'd rather travel overseas. So much the desire to get that stamp on the passport, they have no idea what they're missing out. Sun and sea worshippers, undercover mermaids and mermen, nature lovers are definitely treated to a sight and experience to behold in Raja Ampat.Getting to Raja Ampat - MYTH BUSTED!
First thing first, unlike in the past, now there is a direct flight connecting Jakarta and Sorong (a 4 hours flight, use Express Air or NAM Air). Prepare a budget of approximately IDR 4,000,000 (USD 300) for a return flight Jakarta-Sorong-Jakarta.
And then from Sorong, one only needs to go to the ferry terminal and ride on the speed ferry for approximately 2 hours to get to the lodging / resort on Waigeo (one of the big 4 islands in Raja Ampat).
|Greeted by a Rainbow upon arrival, definitely a good feeling!|
|Leaving Sorong to Waigeo Island, Raja Ampat. Blue clear sky for as far as the eyes can see!|
|It's just blue, and more blue, for as far as the eyes could see|
We departed on a late flight from Jakarta to Sorong at 1 AM, and arrived at 7 AM local time. It was quite a tiring trip because the flight took 4 hours and we arrive at a place that's 2 hours ahead of Jakarta, plus the interrupted sleep on board, so just be sure to rest enough before traveling and wear comfortable clothing to sit and sleep in.Where to stay in Raja Ampat
There are plenty of accommodation to choose from in Raja Ampat, scattered on the 4 main islands: Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta and Misool. From modest homestay with the locals, dive resort villas, to premium eco-friendly waterfront villas, there's a place to accommodate your budget and travel style. One of the examples, as what we experienced at #MannaEncounterRajaAmpat, we were lodged at Waiwo Dive Resort on Waigeo island.- Where we stayed: Waiwo Dive Resort
I'm quite amused to learn that this was also the same resort where our incumbent President Jokowi stayed at during his official visit to Raja Ampat. Waiwo Dive Resort is a waterfront facing cluster of villas with courtyard, restaurant and even meeting room facilities.
|The gate to Waiwo Dive Resort|
|Let's be considerate tourists, respect the local culture|
|The twin sharing room in Waigeo Villa, quite big beds!|
|The beach, just a few steps from the room|
|Boat jetty to Waiwo Dive Resort|
The villas are air conditioned and cleaned daily, so you'll find your room in neat condition after playing outside the whole day. Good to know that the resort switches off electricity during the day, when most of the guests are out exploring the islands, so be sure to charge your gadgets the night before. Signal reception is quite good here, generally, although it may be 'No Service' at certain parts. As there's no such thing as wi-fi within the resort (nor anywhere in Raja Ampat), you can only rely on your telco provider's signal and Telkomsel is the strongest here, for it's set up a reception tower in the area.So, with no gadget to suck all of our attention & energy, just what can one do within the resort in Raja Ampat??1. Swim or Snorkel (and catch some fish for dinner while at it!)
The resort's clear waterfront floating jetty is perpetually flocked by schools of fish, there have even been barracuda and stingray sighted around. There's a ship renting diving / snorkeling / simple fishing equipment on the way to the resort. So swimming is clearly safe, but do take precaution and stay alert, refrain from swimming during low tide.
|Let's fish! But I'd rather admire them from above water =)|
|Tiny crabs on the shore, they move very swiftly from one pit to another pit|
2. Sunset watching & stargazing
|Left: That's @Amrazing photobombing a lobster LOL!|
The fruitful bounty we bought from the locals, for dinner
It was quite a surreal experience for me, sleeping just a stone's throw away from the sea and having the sound of waves crashing on the sandy beach as a morning alarm instead of the usual loud music. Waking up early to catch sunrise might be challenging, especially if you stay up until early AM to catch sight of the cloudless sky.
Fyi, night photography is a challenging feat even with a tripod, but thanks to our travel buddy & super travel blogger, Alexander Thian @Amrazing
, who taught me the techniques, I managed to capture a rather decent shot of the tail of the Milky Way, also credit to my beautiful foodblogger friend @Eatandtreats
for lending me his table tripod. The photo was captured between 11 PM - 12 AM and I could've stayed longer if I hadn't planned to wake up early the next day. When you're disconnected from the city humdrums, you'll lose track of time, really.
Here are some sunset shots that I captured. Nothing much to edit, the original photos are effortlessly beautiful!
|Caught the tail of the majestic Milky Way, shot at around 11 pm - 12 am|
|Can you spot planet Mars in this photo?|
3. Sunrise Yoga
|Photo by @Amrazing|
Within the resort, #MannaEncounterRajaAmpat took us to experience sunrise yoga salutation at the boat jetty, and yoga on board on the crystal clear water for those who don't mind getting wet. #MannaEncounterRajaAmpat engaged a yoga coach from Union Yoga
to teach eager participants. I didn't try the yoga on board on the first day, but at least on the second day, I managed to join the session. It's an entirely different experience indeed, doing yoga under the blue sky.4. Party
(and more party)- High Tea Party & Barbecue Dinner by the beach
Enjoying high tea like a refined aristocrat on a tropical remote island by the beach? Manna Indonesia team did it! For the high tea session, the fine porcelain tea cups and pots were sponsored by Mamitoko
, while the healthy food cooked on the spot and cookies were sponsored by TRF Homemade Indonesia.
Some ingredients such as truffle salt, premium flower tea and bird's nest drink were supported by Manna Indonesia
. I really salute the team for their dedication and effort to transport all these items all the way to Raja Ampat, for the trip participants to enjoy!
Other than the high tea, we had some extra treat for dinner too. Some of us bought fresh lobsters, slipper lobster and fish from the locals at one of our island stops and it tasted even much better with the healthy sambals sponsored by @MertuaMenantu
. The lobsters were incredibly sweet and fleshy, despite the imperfect cooking method, so can you imagine how many times better it would taste if it were cooked by a proper chef!
|High tea by the beach|
|Left: Live cooking demo by TRF Homemade Indonesia|
Right: premium Truffle Salt by Manna Indonesia
|Mamitoko fine porcelain tea cups and tea pots|
|Premium flower tea by Manna Indonesia|
|Left: Entree menu by TRF Homemade, a healthy platter of mushroom satay, fried tempeh, salad and sambal matah|
Right: Cookies for high tea by TRF Homemade Indonesia
- White Masquerade Party
|Grilled gigantic Papuan lobster, which we bought for very good deal from the locals!|
On the third evening of #MannaEncounterRajaAmpat, we were treated to a white-themed masquerade dinner party, which were joined by the owner of the resort, as well as local officials. I truly salute the efforts put in by Manna Indonesia team to decor the area, tables, the booze transported painstakingly all the way from Jakarta, the chill music (one of the team's actually a legit DJ, DJ Aryel). The highlight of this party? The drinks, obviously ;)
|White Masquerade Party, ready to start!|
|The ladies in white ;)|
So, that's it for part 1 of this post series, I'm going to share about the activities outside the resort in the next post, stay tuned!
Jl. K.H. Mas Mansyur Kav. 35