In a religious sense this is Plymouth Rock, the western world and its influences first arrived in this part of Papua. Over the years it has grown into a pleasant seaside port, which offers a nice starting point for the traveller. There are minor attractions in the town itself but there are two main destinations, those being; Arfak and Cenderawasih Bay, land or water is your choice.
Cenderawasih Bay Marine National Park offers great diving and snorkeling, as you would expect in the pure waters around Papua. There are many islands in this national park some inhabited and some lie untouched where turtles thrive unhindered by the hand of man. You can hire boats and rent basic gear, the locals are friendly and can provide great insights into where is best to dive for particular fish. Some people even call this a little slice of heaven or paradise.
Paradise? Well this is the home to the Birds of Paradise therefore this makes this part of Indonesia Paradise. How the Birds got their name is far from the shores and meaning of paradise. The birds have plumage that is both exotic and rare, which made these birds’ feathers highly sought after on the European fashion market in years gone by. These mysterious birds were caught, killed and shipped. This seemed like the most profitable system however when they reached their distinguished customers, European Elite, they found that the birds’ feet and sharp claws had ripped and damaged the feathers while in transit. To remedy this, the feet were removed before shipping. Resulting in strange beautiful birds arriving in Europe that appeared to never land, as they had no feet, people quickly came to the conclusion that they must then come from Heaven, Paradise. Thus through the birds suffering and death came the name, Birds of Paradise.
Today Paradise is Arfak, Arfak Mountain National Reserve, which is a short ride from Manokwari or a vigorous walk. It is possible to gain entrance to the park from flying into Mokwam or Minyambou. From here you enter 68,000 hectares of national park, in the north west corner of Papua. This area is distinct with its steep ridges and dramatic falls to the valleys below. The people who live here are called the Hatam, who once hunted these lands. These people have now become the protectors and farmers of birds and butterflies.
Some of the most exotic and amazing butterflies come from this area and when you visit you will find hundreds of butterfly farms filled with colour and life. Not to mention some of the most enormous butterflies reaching up to 25cm in wingspan.
Because this is both a highly protected area and difficult to traverse, entrance to the park requires special permits that can be obtained in Jayapura and Biak at the KSDA Nature Reserve offices. Another place to visit in the area would be the Anggi Lakes, a series of lakes that typify the natural beauty of the area. As in many places in Papua bring what you need with you, as it is difficult to find things beyond the bare basics. This is a real trekkers paradise and provides opportunities to jump into crystal clear lakes to cool off.