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Wayag Island: Exploring the Heart of Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat

Have you imagined visiting a thriving marine paradise where you can explore an abundance of corals and enjoy spectacular snorkelling and diving experiences while seeing manta rays?

Or do you want to chill, enjoy the sea view, and be entertained by local folk songs? Then travel to Wayag in Raja Ampat to feel the best vibes of marine life in Indonesia.

Situated in West Papua, in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat offers many tourist attractions across its vast area. Raja Ampat itself means “Four Kings”, referring to the four major islands of Misool, Salawarti, Batanta, and Waigeo, even though it consists of over 1,500 islands. According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy, around 75 percent of the world’s species live here. Known as the “Amazon of the Sea,” Raja Ampat covers 9.8 million acres of land and sea and is home to 540 types of corals and more than 1,000 types of coral fishes. It’s a paradise to see the diverse and rich underwater displays.

Piaynemo
Piaynemo – Heart of Raja Ampat

Among all the sites in Raja Ampat, Wayag Island is worth visiting. Wayag consists of uninhabited and incredibly scenic islands, which have become one of the icons of Raja Ampat. You won’t see a tourism promotion or magazine article about Raja Ampat that does not feature the Wayag Island seascape of conical karst islands and their surrounding sapphire seas. Wayag Island is located about 115 km from the city centre of Waigeo, the downtown of Raja Ampat. The island is known for its beautiful sea view and amazing underwater life covering a total area of 155,000 hectares. Here, you find pristine beaches with unique karst islands that look like mushrooms sprouting from the sea.

Visitors will be amazed by the crystal-clear waters around Wayag Island because it looks like an unreal window to various types of flora and fauna living underwater. If you love diving, Wayag has the most popular dive site called Eagle Rock, with considerable current and frequent sightings of reef sharks, barracudas, and manta rays. Wayag’s Gate, a less challenging site with little to no current, features awe-inspiring coral and the occasional manta ray. It will not take a long time to travel around the unique beaches of Wayag Island.

Wayag
Wayag climbing to its highest point

To experience Wayag in a more challenging way, visitors need to try climbing to its highest point and observe the coves and atolls around. You can enjoy the panoramic beauty of the island from the top of the atoll. However, it takes very good conditions to climb the atoll’s wall. You need to conquer the challenge of scaling its highest peak, Pindito, also known as Wayag I and the second peak, slightly lower, referred to as Wayag II. To climb to the peak, it usually takes visitors 30 minutes. The track is quite challenging and there is a rope to help you climb the very steep wall as there is no stairway here.

Getting to Wayag and enjoying its beauty is not easy and can be very costly. It’s a round trip of over 200 km from Waisai to visit Wayag. Moreover, there’s no homestay accommodation there; you need to make a long day trip from wherever you are staying in Raja Ampat. An all-day speedboat round-trip from Waisai for six to 10 people usually costs approximately Rp15-20 million. However, if you find you can’t visit Wayag, very similar iconic views can easily be found elsewhere.

Wayag - Heart of Raja Ampat
Heart of Raja Ampat

One of them is Piaynemo. About 60 km west of Waisai, Piaynemo has a karst island seascape very similar to Wayag as it’s also known as a mini version of Wayag. You can see the spectacular view of a row of amazing karst. Access to Piaynemo is more common so it’s easy to find a rental boat to go there. It also has a facility to reach the top of Piaynemo through a wooden staircase, unlike Wayag, which is only rock. You also can easily find accommodation if you want to stay around Piaynemo. Almost all the homestays on the website can organise day trips to Piaynemo.

After leaving Wayag, allow a little extra time to explore some lesser-known villages, such as Selpele, to swim with baby sharks and end your day with a sunset dive searching for an endemic walking shark. The sharks are not aggressive, classified as reef sharks or whitefin sharks, marking them as one of the most common sharks found on coral reefs. The main characteristics of these sharks are the shape of the mouth’s muzzle and the black markings on the tip of the dorsal and tail fins. You can freely swim around them. You must be brave and ensure you have no bloody scars, though. As a note, Selpele is a checkpoint where you have to report and ask for a boat permit if you are going to visit Wayag.

Selpele
Selpele

Selpele also has beautiful coral reefs. To finish the tourist activities in Selpele Village, you can see the beautiful sunset scene on the beach of this village. Gradations of blue and orange in the sky offer a beautiful view while enjoying a tour of this village. This is a wonderful place to enjoy time after feeling exhausted climbing the wall of Wayag or diving deep into the ocean. People usually sunbathe or lounge on the beach sands.

Moreover, another fun activity is fishing with the children around the pier while waiting for the beautiful sunset from Selpele Village. Interestingly enough, which might leave you dumbfounded; children usually fish without giving bait because there is plenty of fish here. They’re extremely shrewd and agile to catch fish caught in their hooks that they don’t bait at all.

Ulat sagu
Fishing – Ulat sagu

If you plan to visit Wayag from outside Papua, you need to arrive at Deo Airport, Sorong and continue your trip to the Marina dock to Raja Ampat. You can easily find a rental boat from the dock to take you to your desired destination.

Also Read Diving and Snorkelling in Raja Ampat

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