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The richest coral reef on Earth & Indonesia’s top liveaboard diving destination

Home to more than ten times the number of hard coral species found in the Caribbean, this area of West Papua province is legendary among experienced scuba divers as one of the top liveaboard dive destinations in the entire world.

Close up of a Mantis shrimp (Stomatopod, Odontodactylus scyllarus), Raja Ampat, Indonesia. 
© © Robert Delfs / WWF
Close up of a Mantis shrimp (Stomatopod, Odontodactylus scyllarus), Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
© © Robert Delfs / WWF
And there is so much more to learn about Raja Ampat (which when translated in English means ‘The Four Kings’). The first comprehensive scientific survey of the area was only conducted in 2001, a record-breaking census which found nearly 1,000 tropical fish species—many of the species discovered had been previously unknown.

Where is Raja Ampat?

The Raja Ampat archipelago, part of the Coral Triangle, located at the northwest corner of Indonesia’s West Papua province, encompassing 40,000 km² of land and sea and including a series of more than 1,500 islands which surround the main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo.

Located at the intersection of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, Raja Ampat has been described as a ‘species factory’.

Powerful deep-sea currents funnel nutrients into Raja Ampat’s delicate fringing coral reefs, blue water drop-offs, mangrove flats, and seagrass beds to form the foundation of the food chain which feeds a spectacular diversity of marine life.

Discovering Raja Ampat: Experiencing the Coral Triangle’s ‘Species Factory’

With the discovery of Raja Ampat’s biodiversity still in progress, WWF has teamed up with the Indonesian government, local community groups, and conservation partners such as Conservation International (CI) and The Nature Conservancy to create the Bird’s Head Seascape.

Encompassing an area of 183,000 km², the Bird’s Head Seascape also includes 7 marine protected areas within Raja Ampat totaling 9,100 km².

Scientists have discovered that many coral species within Raja Ampat may be more resistant to rising ocean temperatures due to global warming, providing hope that the marine protected area might help replenish other nearby coral reefs which have been severely damaged by coral bleaching events.

Raja Ampat threats

Raja Ampat’s relative isolation has been one of the marine protected area’s greatest defenses against overuse and exploitation.

However, as more coastal environments lying closer to human population centers become degraded, relatively pristine coral reefs such as Raja Ampat are becoming increasingly tempting targets.

Local subsistence fishermen have used dynamite blast fishing methods in the past, and some fragile ecosystems have been threatened by logging, mining, and oil exploration.

Raja Ampat biodiversity

  • More than 1,300 species of coral reef fish
  • Five species of rare and endangered sea turtles including the hawksbill sea turtle
  • 600 species of hard coral within the Bird’s Head Seascape—75% of the total for the entire world
  • 13 marine mammal species including the dugong
  • 700 species of mollusk—including 7 giant clam species
  • 57 species of mantis shrimp within the Bird’s Head Seascape

Raja Ampat Scuba Diving Highlights

Raja Ampat is a paradise for scuba divers. Find out about Manta Ridge, Waigeo, Kri Island and other diving locations ►

Getting to Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat marine protected area is most easily reached via a flight to Sorong from Jakarta, Bali (Denpasar), or Singapore. From Jakarta and Bali, the following airlines offer daily flights to Sorong:
From Singapore, traveling divers will need to connect to Manado via: From Manado, Sorong is reached via:
Manta, Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia 
© Jürgen Freund /WWF
Manta, Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia
© Jürgen Freund /WWF

Diving Stories from Raja Ampat

"Not a single day were we not blown away by the varied sceneries here in Raja Ampat. We were so greedy in seeing everything that even if three weeks with Papua Diving may seem like a lot of time, it was seriously not enough."

read more from the Coral Triangle photo expedition blog