Misool Island, The Fascinating Dive Resort in Raja Ampat
Misool Island is a remote, tropical hideaway, one of four largest islands in the Raja Ampat archipelago, world renowned dive destination in the province of West Papua.
Located off the west coast of the main island of Papua, directly bordering the Seram Sea, the waters are a veritable traffic lane for many large sea creatures, including whales.
The crystal clear turquoise sea-waters allow spectacular views of Misools sub-surface colorful treasures even when still aboard your boat. And once under the water, visibility can reach from 10 meters to as far as 30 meters.
The sea gardens of Raja Ampat hold 75% of all known species of corals and ornamental fish in the world, and boast the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet.
On land, the wild territory of Misool is one of the most visually breath-taking and captivating sites in Raja Ampat. The island is heavily forested, and at first sight reveals nothing but a thick green carpet of dense forests and mangrove swamps. The rugged terrain is predominantly limestone, the frostily coloured rock clashing starkly with the deep green jungle. To the east and west of the island, a maze of limestone pinnacles jut sharply out of the blue sea, carved and eroded by the waves and carpeted luxuriantly in vegetation. The rare beaches on Misool are pure white sand, fringed with coconut trees leading out to the stunningly turquoise waters.
Aside from the enchanting panoramic scenery and wealth of marine life, Misool is also home to ancient cultural sites. A number of petroglyphs can be found on walls of caves throughout the island, dating back approximately 5,000 years.
Misool Eco Resort is an exclusive, secluded dive center 165 kilometres away from the nearest port. It is located on the privately-owned island of Batbitim, barely a stone’s throw from Misool Island. The island is surrounded by a 1,220 square kilometre no-take zone. That’s roughly twice the size of Singapore.
The resort offers 8 luxurious cottages built on stilts over the water, each with a hammock integrated into the veranda and stairs leading down to the lagoon. For a higher level of service and seclusion, you have a choice of 4 Deluxe Villas, located on various corners of the island.
A dive resort is also built on stilts near the water cottages, and is fully equipped with a comfortable lounge, a small library, a massive work station, and a veranda for sunning out between dives. Dives are scheduled three times a day, with diving equipment and private guides available upon request.
A restaurant is located tucked under coconut palms, and overlooking the lagoon. It offers a broad selection of Western, Asian and Vegan cuisine. All sea-food is caught outside of the no-take zone, and fruits come from organic plantations around the island.
With the highest level of marine biodiversity on the planet and 60 over dive spots within an hour from the resort, (not to mention the hundreds more that await further out to sea,) you can just imagine the enthralling scenes you will behold just beneath the water of Misool. It’s impossible to even dream of trying to list all the many marvellous species of marine life, but here is a small glimpse of what you may encounter. On the tiny side, ghost pipefish, blue-ringed octopus, frogfish, pygmy seahorses, mandarin fish and literally millions of other critters dart in, out and around the extravagant coral formations. On the large side, immense schools of surgeons roam the waters together with Barracuda, Wobbegang Sharks and dolphins while giant mantas and Mobula Rays glide overhead.
Diving among the Raja Ampat islands is excellent just about all year round, and the term high season does not carry much meaning, as Misool’s only resort has a maximum capacity of 30 people. From May to July is light rainy season, and July to September may bring heavier rain and small surface swells, but rarely enough to obstruct your enjoyment. It is possible to travel to other parts of Raja Ampat during this time, but the Misool Eco Resort is closed during the months of July, August and September. While the rain may not interfere with diving, the sunny season between October and April is more recommended, as you will have the opportunity for other activities such as trekking and exploring the island. Between October and November is the season for large schools of bait fish, which in turn attracts bigger fish and Mobula Rays, while the May and June south winds bring more sharks.
Aside from diving, a selection of other water sports are also available at Misool Resort, such as kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing on the beach and appreciating the act of doing absolutely nothing at all. Boats can also be hired for short trips to the various surrounding islands.
For more “land-friendly” activities, take a tour of the island and explore the mangrove forests and see if you can spot any of the birds and mammals that inhabit it. The rare village can still be found, hidden in some remote corner of the island, which may be interesting to pay a visit to, to learn more about the local culture, customs and traditions.
Another popular spot is a cave with various petroglyphs, dated at about 5,000 years old. The most recognizable one is that of a human hand, colored in a deep red. Finding the petroglyphs is not so easy, as they are hidden amongst a maze of rocks and lagoons, but that only adds to the adventure.
From Sorong, a private speedboat will take you to the Resort. Boats depart on a pre-arranged schedule by the resort, usually at 7:30 a.m. on alternating Sunday mornings. The trip takes between 4 – 5 hours but will seem like no time at all as you journey through some of the most mesmerizing sceneries you have ever seen or ever will see. Transfer fees from Sorong to Misool are included in the resort’s package price.