Oh the sweet relief of arriving to a postcard perfect island after a long stretch in a dusty Indonesian town!
Raja Ampat actually means four kings, as the island group is geographically defined by 4 large islands. Wayag is the northern king and it ticks all the boxes; uninhabited, pristine beaches, incredible snorkelling, hikes with mind blowing views and bay upon picturesque bay to be explored.
Last but not least - we finally reunite with our friends from Zig Zag and Family Circus. Happiness all around!
We see manta rays swim past our anchorage, swim with black tip reef sharks, drift snorkel down a channel full of hump-head parrot fish and spend hours snorkelling along my favourite reef (yes, that’s its official name, Vanja’s fave reef) running the entire length of of a very long beach. Graham called it the wall of beauty and it really was.
Lara and Jake try scuba diving for the first time with their friend Aya and Chris from Family Circus, who spends hours teaching them in and out of water. The verdict? They both love it.
Then it was onto a turtle sanctuary on a small island just off nearby Sayang. Judging by the fresh tracks on the beach, tens of turtles come here to nest every night.
Local rangers meet us on the beach after sunset where, after a spot of walking around in the dark stubbing our toes on dead coral, we witness a giant turtle quietly sweeping sand over what I can only presume were freshly laid eggs (these we never saw pop out, she was discreet). She then zig-zags back to the water, desperately trying to avoid the cameras and the accompanying torch light of the rangers trying to be accomodating (not to the turtle unfortunately).
Next morning we are back on the beach to join the rangers on their sweep of freshly hatched nests. They check for any lagging hatchlings requiring rescue and release them in the evening to maximise survival chances.
We decide to head back to Wayag for three days while the other two boats check out a different island nearby. We have the whole place to ourselves for a couple of days which is surreal. At the risk of sounding a bit repetitive, more snorkelling, bush walking and beach fires happen.
Then it’s onto Wofoh where we meet up with the other boats again. Again a beautiful spot with snug beaches and diving along a vertical coral wall. It’s easy to get a bit blasé about one scenic spot after another when sailing along the equator, and especially in a region like Raja Ampat where almost every spot is near perfect under and above water. So we try to fight the scourge of indifference but it does happen. 'Is this really photo worthy?' I hear myself ask, more often than I care to.
For our last stop before going back to Sorong for visa extensions, we anchor in a quiet bay at the end of a narrow channel between the islands of Gam and Waigeo. The channel itself is packed full of underwater caves perfect for snorkeling.
Just outside one of the caves, we come across a colony of the biggest and most colourful giant coral fans I have ever seen. A sea of bright orange, pink, yellow and purple, they sway in the current like peaceful giants.