Raja Ampat Islands
Raja Ampat means the Four Kings. Why the Four Kings well the myth tells us that there was a woman who found 7 eggs, 4 eggs hatched and out popped four princes who were separated and each became a powerful king in Waigeo, Salawati, Misool East and West. The other 3 eggs turned into a ghost, a woman and a rock. Now as legends go, I am not sure this is a breathtaking story but please put that aside as the Four Kings, Raja Ampat is breathtaking in every other way.
Prepare to see natural beauty at its best. This archipelago comprises overall were 9.8 million acres of land and sea. It is at the heart of a Coral Triangle of rich biodiversity and It is said to have the largest variety of species of aquatic life in the world.
Through research in the area it has been found that this area holds 75% of all coral species in the world and put on top of that the fact that there are well over 1000 species of fish swimming around. This all adds up to the fact that you have to get into the water.
Through talking to dive as I have learnt that there is no such thing as a bad guy in this part of the world, You're able to ask your guide to see a particular type of aquatic life and your guide with a degree of certainty will be able to find it for you that day and I how big or small it might be.
10 times the number of hard coral species found in the entire Caribbean
1,511 species of reef fish
27 species of endemic reef fish
600 species of hard coral
75% of all known coral species in the world
57 species of Mantis Shrimp
13 species of Marine Mammals
5 species of endangered sea turtles
No doubt about it, Raja Ampat is definitely the richest place for fish that I have ever been.
-Dr G.R. Allen
I was like a five-year-old, seeing a reef for the very first time. I was awestruck, held by the incredible power of this richest reef. We must, with all available resources, preserve the beauty of Raja Ampat. This may be the last frontier.
I love the people, I love the diving, it's super! I've never been for a second time to the same dive destination but now I'm thinking about going back for the third time! Should I say more?
-Peter van Dalen
Never before in the world have researchers in one dive found 400 coral species in one dive, as they did in the Raja Ampat.
Dr. JEN Veron, Leading marine scientist (hard coral), 2002
I couldn't remember ever seeing so many fish so consistently at so many dive sites. In terms of fish life, color and lush reefs Irian Jaya is destined to become the standard against which all diving is measured.
Larry and Denise Tackett, Dive professionals, authors, photographers. Skin Diver August, 2001
How to get there?
Fly is the simple answer to Sorong from Jakarta or from Singapore.
There are flights every day with Merpati, Express Air and Lion Wings from Jakarta, however be warned that there are stopovers that the airlines often forget to mention. From Singapore Silk Air operates regularly.
Information on the Entrance Fee for Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat Tourism Entrance Fee Information For Tourists
Why do I have to pay a fee to enter Raja Ampat? Raja Ampat is blessed with some of the highest marine biodiversity and healthiest coral reefs in the world. In order to protect this unique biodiversity, Raja Ampat has 7 nationally mandated and locally managed marine protected areas (MPAs). As with any park or reserve, conservation and tourism management costs money, and the Raja Ampat government is adopting a tool commonly used throughout the world for financing protected areas management – entrance fees.
Moreover, the villagers in Raja Ampat have traditional marine tenure rights over all of the reefs and are entitled to seek compensation from users of their reefs. In an effort to harmonize these various needs and avoid a very complex set of fees for tourism use of individual reefs, the Raja Ampat government and local communities have agreed to a centrally-collected single entrance fee of Rp 500,000/person/year (approximately US$55) for international visitors and Rp 250,000/person/year for Indonesian visitors.
Where do I purchase my Entrance Tag?
First check with your dive operator to see they have pre-purchased a tag for you. If not, the Raja Ampat entrance fee management team has established a booth at the Sorong Airport where arriving guests can directly purchase their tags. At this time, payment must be in rupiah, though we will endeavor to expand this to at least US$ and Euro in the future. In this case, the guest buys the tag and the receipts are filled in with the following information: guest name, country of origin, tag number, passport number, and email address (optional if the guest would like to receive further information about Raja Ampat conservation efforts). To ensure accountability the guest receives their copy of the 2 receipts, the accompanying dive operator representative (if present) receives their copy, and the management team's copy is directly entered into the guest database.
How was the fee set?
Raja Ampat is huge, covering nearly 50,000 sq km, with a population of 32,000 spread over 92 villages and sub-villages. Managing such a large and diverse area is costly. Providing direct benefits to each of the 88 remote villages is especially costly, particularly given the relatively low number of tourists visiting Raja Ampat. In trying to convince the government and villages to prioritize eco-friendly tourism development over lucrative but environmentally-damaging sectors such as mining and forestry, it is important that they see real benefits from tourism. The result is that the single overall fee is significant (Rp 500,000), but we believe this is a small price to pay to encourage the stewardship and protection of the most biodiverse reefs on earth. Note that the fee system actually only contributes a small part of the overall conservation and management costs of Raja Ampat's MPA system.
Why do I have to pay for a 1 year tag even if I'm only visiting for a few days?
There is a growing consensus among MPA managers that the annual waterproof tag system is the most efficient, robust and convenient method of collecting entry fees, avoiding the significant hassle and enforcement issues that arise with daily fees – especially in large-scale MPAs where guests do not pass through a central entrance gate on a daily basis.
Why was I given 2 receipts when I purchased my tag?
The fee has two main components: a governmental tourism management fee of Rp 150,000 and a conservation and community development fee of Rp 350,000. In order to ensure transparency and make it very clear where the money goes, each guest will receive two receipts, one for each fund.
Who manages the revenues from the fee system?
The Raja Ampat tourism entrance fee is managed by a multi-stakeholder team that is comprised of local community leaders, Raja Ampat govt. officials (from the departments of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Tourism, and Health) local and international conservation NGOs (CI, TNC, and the Papuan Turtle Conservation Foundation), and a rep. of the private marine tourism sector.
Where does my money go?
The Rp 150,000 tourism management fee enters the coffers of the Raja Ampat tourism department and is targeted at improving tourism management in Raja Ampat. The Rp 350,000 conservation and community development fee is split by law into 3 components: 40% for a community development fund for activities that benefit all 92 villages/sub-villages in Raja Ampat; 40% for a conservation and enforcement fund, and 20% for management of the fee system (including paying for the office and staff required to collect, manage, and distribute the entrance fee proceeds). The priority activities under the community development and conservation funds are determined on an annual basis by the entrance fee management team. For more information click here.
What are the initial priorities with the entrance fee funds?
In 2007, the conservation fund will be used to strengthen a patrol program to eliminate destructive fishing practices such as blast and cyanide fishing. In order to reach out to all communities in Raja Ampat and provide them some direct benefit from tourism, the community development fund will be used to re-establish the "Posyandu" system which brings basic health care to mothers and young children in every village. NOTE: as it will take time to accrue funds in the entrance fee accounts, the 2007 activities described above are actually being funded by grants from conservation NGOs; the revenues from the 2007 entrance fee will be used to fund 2008 activities in Raja Ampat, 2008 revenues will fund 2009 activities, and so on.
Why do I still see people fishing in Raja Ampat's Marine Protected Areas?
Raja Ampat's MPAs were only declared in mid-2007 and the zonation and management plans for each MPA are still under development. Local communities are still allowed to fish in their traditional areas and may continue to do so with certain agreed gear restrictions. That said, fishing activities including blast and cyanide fishing, trawling, and shark-finning are illegal throughout Raja Ampat. While a joint patrol team comprised of police, fisheries officers and community members has now been launched to confront these environmental crimes directly, the reality is that patrolling this huge area will always be a challenge and a system is being developed so that tourism operators can report violations.
How can I help Raja Ampat further?
As an honored guest to Raja Ampat please respect the rules and especially the reefs of the park. Avoid damaging corals and other marine life by controlling your buoyancy and not standing on or contacting the reef. Photographers should be especially careful and not manipulate marine life. Ensure boats follow the operator code of conduct and anchor in deep water >40m. Anchoring on the reef is the primary cause of tourism-related reef damage! Also insist that your operator does not dispose of solid wastes at sea, which is still a problem!
Secondly, consider donating to either the conservation or community development funds described above. The multistakeholder management team is developing a number of programs which you may like to support such as supplying library books to schools and villages and mosquito nets to reduce the threat of malaria. While we are working on setting up a system where you can donate directly through your operator, for now donations can be made at the entrance fee office at the Sorong airport. Similar to the transparency for the entrance fees collected, all donations are recorded and you will receive an official receipt.
Thank you for visiting Raja Ampat. We hope you enjoy your stay and aim to ensure it is even better the next time you visit.