West Papua

Indonesia's Raja Ampat: A Papuan Odyssey

Whale Shark, Teluk Namatote, West Papua, Indonesia
Whale Shark, Teluk Namatote, West Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Pierre Constant

The Raja Ampat Islands, located in Indonesia’s West Papua province, nestled between the Pacific Ocean, the Halmahera Sea and Seram Island, are at the crossroads of tremendous biodiversity and coral diversity—home to 75 percent of the world’s reef species. Pierre Constant returned to the region and shares his tales of diving and cultural experiences there.

Indonesia's Raja Ampat

Arus kencang are the words you need to listen out for—you will hear them in the rapid interchange between the dive guides and the boat boys, as they discuss the practicalities of safely immersing a group of “bule” (slang for foreigners) in the waters of Raja Ampat.

Arus kencang means strong current in Bahasa Indonesia, and the emphasis given to those two words will give you an instant insight into what awaits you below.

Raja Ampat: The Four Kings

Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo by Steve Jone
Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo by Steve Jones

Swirling unicorn fish surround me and seem to have accepted me as one of their own. I can no longer see the surface nor anything else, save for a wall of fish. Only four minutes into the dive and it’s already evident that this site is living up to its reputation, literally boiling with fish. Moments like this remind me why I dive.