Snorkeling at Indonesia's spectacular Raja Ampat Islands - [In Photos]

Friday, March 09, 2018

I stood at the edge of the pier tightly clutching the lifejacket wrapped around my body, debating whether I should jump into the sea or not. My boatman who doubled up as a guide was already in the water, waiting for me to jump in. Now I cannot swim and the waters looked frighteningly deep. But would it have been wise to miss an opportunity to snorkel in one of the world’s most pristine and thriving marine ecosystems? Absolutely not! So I pulled up my imaginary socks and jumped in. My guide dragged me around the pier while I squeaked like a little child, despite the snorkel in my mouth. What a wonderful world it was, unraveling beneath me!

I was in Raja Ampat Islands. Located on the northwestern tip of West Papua in Indonesia, Raja Ampat is the collective name give to four island groups in the far eastern end of Indonesia. This region supports a wide variety of thriving marine life and mind-boggling biodiversity. No wonder it is a highly sought-after destination by diving and marine enthusiasts around the world. And I got a wonderful opportunity to explore this paradise last November. While I have lots of stories to tell as well as videos to show about my time in the islands, allow me first to share with you my unbridled excitement at having snorkeled in one of the finest places on earth. It may look like I went diving, but that's only a testament to the unique marine ecosystem of Raja Ampat.

With two GoPros in hand, I was quite well-equipped (for an absolute newbie) to capture some of the underwater scenes. What I didn’t anticipate was the stunning settings we’d snorkel in. Not only were the sites well endowed with pristine coral reefs teeming with a variety of fishes, they were also extremely picturesque with deep waters and ideal lighting conditions. By a wonderful stroke of luck, my fellow travellers were adept swimmers, freedivers and great models. I had a marvellous time capturing these underwater scenes. I was practically giddy with excitement after looking at the footage and photos from our snorkeling sessions. If a newbie who’s never shot underwater, never snorkeled before and can’t swim, can capture photos like these by simply floating on the surface, you can imagine the effortless and unparalleled beauty of Raja Ampat!

So here's a photo story on snorkeling in Raja Ampat to begin with!
Freediving at Friwen Wall
Friwen Wall is a popular snorkeling spot in Raja Ampat, featuring exceptionally pristine and healthy coral reefs. Beneath Friwen, the island wall drops steeply and abruptly into the ocean. The deep waters beyond the wall offer a stunning setting for freediving and underwater photography. My fellow travellers and local guides had a ball of a time freediving and I had a great time indulging in some vicarious pleasure, watching them do something I cannot even dream of doing at this point.

Schools of fish beneath Arborek Jetty
Arborek island is the leading up-and-coming eco travel destination in Raja Ampat. This small island packs a punch when it comes to hospitable people, thriving marine life and unbelievable views of blue ocean. The waters under the pier at Aroborek are known for large, swarming schools of fish along with a variety of marine life. We didn't see any large schools of fish, yet there were so many fishes all around us.

Anchored boat at Arborek Jetty Woman snorkeling near Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat
The pier at Arborek itself made for some good background to test my underwater photography skills with the GoPros.

Friwen Wall's stunning reef diversity
Ever since the news of massive coral bleaching broke out, I'd never imagined I would ever see such pristine reefs given I neither travel exclusively to islands nor snorkel/dive. Watching these corals totally made me feel like I had snuck into an episode of Blue Planet!

Healthy coral reef at Friwen Wall in Raja Ampat Colorful corals at Friwen Wall, Raja Ampat
The underwater scenery at Friwen was the perfect introduction to the beauty and diversity of coral reefs, especially for someone who's never seen one before in real life!

Hundreds of fish swarm around in the waters around Friwen Wall
Freediving at Friwen Wall in Raja Ampat A small school of Yellow and blueback fusiliers at the edge of Friwen Wall
[Top] When hundreds of these fish would pass by us, they'd make a sort of quick, tapping noise, as if small stones were colliding incessantly. For some strange reason I thought it would be very quiet underwater, clearly I hadn't spent enough time below the surface. [Bottom] Welcome to a strange new world. I couldn't have been more thankful that Raja Ampat was my introduction to the bounties of our oceans. The bar is set very high for my next, inevitable explorations of the marine world.

Photography Gear:

Majority of the images were shot on GoPro Hero 6 Black while few were shot on GoPro Hero 5 Black.
[Linked above are my Amazon affiliate links, so if you're considering ordering a GoPro after viewing the images here, please use these links. No extra charge to you and I'll get a small commission. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a GoPro family member. This means GoPro sends me the latest devices to use and create content but I wouldn't recommend something unless I truly love it.]

Also see: Rammang Rammang - A Surreal Village hidden in Indonesia’s Karst Mountains

So tell me in the comments!
What do you think of my underwater photography skills? ;)

Note: I was super lucky to have been invited on this trip by Indonesian Tourism Board in association with Garuda Indonesia as part of #ExploreWonderfulIndonesia campaign.

Come along with me, on a virtual journey! Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. beautiful post and pictures. yes diving is one of the best things we can do in this beautiful planet. Raja Ampat is one of our dream destination. Thanks for sharing.

    do check out our dive trips here

  2. Truly Amazing pics. Loved the post.

  3. This was a beautiful snorkeling place in Raja Ampat. What a well written story you had given detailed story of your experience in snorkeling. I liked your trip and awesome images too I loved it!

  4. it really is beautiful, please do come to our place :) the blue like christall raja ampat

  5. Amazing photographs, thanks for the inspiration I truly love your blog!!Nice pictures and awesome writings.

  6. Raja sounds amazing!! I don't know much about Indonesia at all, but I imagine it will be incredible experience!

  7. Hello, Mam, I am new In Blogging. I have one Travel blog but I am having a trouble To rank in Search engines Can you please help me to get my blog on the google and other search engines. My blog is

  8. one of ma hobbies, reading travel bloggs......nice one tq

  9. Really amazing Neelima, one must have brave a heart to do this attempt in marine

  10. Beautiful place and amazing photographs. I am also a travel blogger do check mine too


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