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Travel bucket list idea:

Cruise Raja Ampat

  • Indonesia

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

The archipelago of Raja Ampat lies at the heart of Indonesia’s Coral Triangle, off the coast of Western Papua. Some 1,500 sugarloaf limestone islands, draped in bottle-green rainforest, are scattered across an aquamarine sea that’s home to two-thirds of the world’s coral species and more than 1,600 species of reef fish.

Unsurprisingly, Raja Ampat is a dream for divers and snorkellers, who come to discover a world of underwater canyons and dazzling coral gardens where you can swim among sea turtles, black-tipped sharks and graceful manta rays.

Don’t expect to find shops and museums; the charm of Raja Ampat is that it’s mainly uninhabited. This is authentic expedition cruising, offering rainforest treks in search of the rare bird of paradise, kayaking, twice-daily snorkel or dive trips and impromptu sundowners on deserted, bone-white beaches, scattered with fallen coconuts and pieces of broken coral.


Price from: £Varies
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: Min 7 days

Getting there & doing it

Cruises on Indonesia-based ships usually start at the port of Sorong, Western Papua, a four-hour flight from Jakarta.

Longer expedition voyages pass through, usually en route between Australia and southeast Asia, spending a few days exploring the archipelago. Itineraries usually take in several islands, including Misool, Wayag, Gam and Waigeo, each offering different hikes and underwater landscapes.

For an authentic experience, try one of SeaTrek’s liveaboard pinisi, traditional Indonesian wooden sailing boats that offer a laid-back, barefoot holiday with dining on deck. They have two boats sleeping 12 and 24, exploring Raja Ampat from November to March.

Aqua Expeditions offer luxurious expedition cruising on the 30-passenger Aqua Blu, a converted British navy motoryacht. The highest standards of dining and accommodation.

Australian-owned Aurora Expeditions operate two high-tech expedition ships, carrying 132 each and equipped with a science centre, pool and watersports gear.

When to do it

As it’s so close to the equator, Raja Ampat is practically a year-round destination but the main season is between September and April for the clearest water and the best chance of swimming among manta rays.

Who to go with: tour operators


Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Aurora Expeditions [Raja Ampat]

  • Sydney, New South Wales, Indonesia

Offer intimate expeditions varying in length from 10 to 26 days in remote destinations around the world, for science & nature lovers. They operate two high-tech expedition ships in Raja Ampat, carrying 132 guests each and equipped with expedition specialists and a science centre.

Aqua Expeditions [Raja Ampat]

  • Peru

Specialists in offering intimate, small ship expeditions to distant parts of the world, featuring the highest standards of dining and accommodation. For Raja Ampat, they offer luxurious expedition cruising on the 30-passenger Aqua Blu, a converted British navy motoryacht. Min age 5.

SeaTrek Sailing Adventures

  • Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Small-ship cruising experiences that embrace the traditional wooden pinisi boat culture of Indonesia. They offer 7- to 12-day voyages across the eastern half of Indonesia, including Raja Ampat.