Oni is an associate who has been working in Maverick since 2015. In 2016, she ticked one of her bucket list and visited Raja Ampat. This is her story.
It has always been something at the top of my ‘Travel of a Lifetime’ list to stay on a remote island, in a cabin or a house right on the beach, wake up within footsteps from clear, warm, and aquamarine water. This dream came true at Misool Islands, Raja Ampat. I had finally found what was closest to a home of every kind of paradise.
In late 2016, I visited the home of visually breathtaking and captivating sites, Misool, which is known as the second of “The Four Kings” of Raja Ampat. Exploring the crystal clear turquoise sea gardens and climbing the magnificent karst chains are the highlights of a trip to Misool. This dream place is not just an ordinary place; it consists of peaks, marine gems, and white-sanded magical beaches. The attractions are certainly more diverse; combine what Wayag and Piaynemo (North Raja Ampat) have in one place. A real gem!
I took a public ferry from Sorong harbor to Yellu Island. The trip took between 5-6 hours but it felt like no time at all as we journeyed through some of the most astonishing sceneries we had ever seen or would ever see.
Paradise 1. Fascinating underwater paradise
My itinerary included the highlights of Raja Ampat as home to some of the world’s best snorkeling experience. With abundance of pristine, shallow coral reefs, diverse marine habitats, and turquoise sea gardens, with good visibility and warm water temperatures, Raja Ampat really pampered us. The islands are home to all known species of corals, hard and soft coral, and ornamental fish in the world. Once you get into the water, you will never want to get out. Exploring Gamfi, Balbulol, and Banos, you will need to maximize your time in the water and minimize time in transit. Being flexible to local weather conditions is considerably needed in choosing daily snorkeling sites.
Gamfi provides the best snorkeling site in Misool Islands. You can easily find and play hide and seek with clownfish near their anemone home.
Gamfi. Beautiful hard coral inside the water – one underwater paradise worth to explore.
Gamfi. The crystal clear aqua water allows us to see the coral from top.
Soft coral at Balbulol Lagoon
Inhabited island of Namlol is a home of soft coral in Misool Islands.
Home of iconic species
Raja Ampat is home of marine endemic, marine mammals, species of mangrove, and other iconic species such as whale sharks, sea turtles, walking sharks, and manta rays. Jaam Island is a home of walking sharks, where you can walk around and meet baby sharks by chance just by the beach. It used to be a shark-hunting spot, until the government issued a regulation banning shark fin trafficking. Jaam Island since then has been included in the Regional Water Conservation Area (KKPD) of South East Misool and has become the friendliest place for sharks to visit.
Baby shark feeding in Jaam Island.
Paradise 2. Breath taking and Enchanting Views
The islands, many of which are made of rugged, sharp limestone karst are also home of the most mesmerizing sceneries one’s ever seen. I ventured on land to explore the peaks of Dapunlol and Dafalen to get the best view of Misool Islands from top. From there, we could see Dapunlol Island, Dafalen Island, Balbulol Lagoon, Namlol Island and Banos Island.
Love Peak of Dafalen Island.
Here you can see the love-shaped lagoon from the top of Dafalen Island. The route to the peak was not touristy enough; it was very narrow, full of crumbling rocks, slippery stones, and exposed corners. Armed only with a wooden handle, the trek included a climb up a vertical wood staircase. Many people tackled the route totally unprepared, such as wearing flip-flops and bringing no water. Rainfall might worsen the climbing up and down trouble. But it’s worth the pain—Every angle of the peak provides breath taking and enchanting view.
Paradise from the other side of Dafalen Peak.
Harfat – Dapunlol Peak.
The scene of Harfat – Dapunlol Peak is killer! This highest peak in Misool Islands was discovered by local residents of Kampung Harapan Jaya village, thus it was named after them. The route has proper pathways, staircases, and wooden handles compared to Love Peak. It took us around 30 minutes to finally reach the top. And again, every spot offered superbly beautiful scenery.
Going up was the easy part. Coming down the steep slope paralyzed me with fear.
Balbulol ‘Hidden’ Lagoon.
Floating on the surface in a lagoon inside placid Balbulol, I was in snorkeling heaven. You can find a dazzling view on land as well as the underwater, that you wish to keep it private in a crystal ball. Balbulol is known for its Christmas Tree-like stones that stand sheltering the surrounding hill, providing you the best private lagoon on earth.
Paradise 3. Rock island, pristine natural environment
Misool is famous for its enormous area of rock islands forming several chains stretching into various directions. It will take days to give this whole area justice, since the islands come in far more diverse formations than those at anywhere else in Raja Ampat: rounded-topped sugarloaf, pointed, standing alone, and lagoon-forming types.
Christmas Tree Rock in Balbulol Lagoon
Yapap Karst Array. This area has the highest concentration of a type of rock islands, spiky ones, flattened from the side.
Namlol Islands. During daylight, the water height is only 100cm, allowing us to walk in the shallow parts of the waters.
Spiky karst rocks hang in the middle of the sea in Namlol.
Love-shaped rock near Dafalen Island
Snorkeling at the ‘Small’ Olobii area.
Paradise 4: All of the undiscovered wonders (hidden) of Misool Islands.
Besides incredible sceneries, Misool has lots of gems yet to be discovered. One of them, a stingless-jellyfish lake, had just been discovered. Thanks to Om Dali, the captain of the trip, I had a chance to visit the lake and swim with the friendliest hosts I have ever known. The site I went to required a short hike on foot to reach. Since the pathway had been opened only a while ago, cuts on skin by sharp leaves were to be expected. The site was so tranquil though, so one felt like in a heaven after passing rough days.
Last but not least, home of every hope and every dream
Butterflies stole my days in Harapan Jaya Island. Thrilling yet excited feeling fill up my 6D5N here staying with locals. I went here, there, and everywhere and explored things during the day, so I spent every night in a relaxed way. Sandy fingers, chubby cheeks, white smiles, nothing was better than this. Every night we gathered on the jetty by the beach. Laughing, sharing stories, making dreams, together we embraced the best moments of life.
Spending one week staying with the locals gave me a great picture of their daily routine. Listening to the story of traditions built over time, learning the language they speak, understanding their life inspirations.
Harapan Jaya Island. The most memorable jetty, where stories were shared.
It was the right decision to take the trip, to escape from routine, from technology, from individuality. Reading a book, talking to people, enjoying nature and embracing total submersion in the moment and the place instead. Thank you for Maverick for the support that enabled me to have such experience in Misool.
Meet the squad.
Left – Right: Rahmand – Sesari – Dicky – Yenny – Franzy – Onisio