The Raja Ampat islands are by far one of the most breathtaking diving spots that I’ve ever seen. However, what I found even more impressive was that these islands are the world’s most environmentally conscious place to dive. Raja Ampat consists of four major islands in the Indonesian part of Papua, although there are actually 1,500 islands which make up the Raja Ampat islands if you count the uninhabited ones!
In the crystal-clear water, I was surrounded by untouched coral gardens in brilliant colors, giant clams, turtles, sharks, and huge manta rays. There are 537 species of coral and about 700 species of animals found in the waters of the Raja Ampat islands. This makes it one of the most biodiverse diving areas of the world. The people who live there and the dive operators are very proud of their area, and they do a lot to protect it. The dive operators even sign a code of conduct to further protect this beautiful spot. The dive operators are required to anchor a minimum of 200 meters from a dive site. They are never allowed to put their divers with another group. Not only does this help to protect the environment, it allows for a better dive experience overall. The dive boat operators are also not allowed to buy threatened fish species such as parrot fish, lobster, or shells.
Many conservation groups have done an excellent job in working with the local village chiefs to make them aware of how important it is to conserve this area. They have also established a network of marine-protected areas across the Raja Ampat islands to support their sustainability. All visitors pay an entrance fee that is good for the year to dive or snorkel in the waters of Raja Ampat. A portion of the money paid goes to a conservation fund which includes hiring people to patrol the area to stop fishermen from using dynamite and cyanide fishing which destroys the reefs.
The Raja Ampat islands are a special place that touched me deeply, and I am so glad that they are doing so much to protect this sacred area. Hopefully, they will wind up being an example for other dive sites around the world.