What’s the best time of year to visit Raja Ampat?
- October to April, with best chance of perfect conditions from mid-October to mid-December
Raja Ampat climate statistics are based on long term observations taken at Sorong on the West Papua mainland. The Sorong averages don’t necessarily apply throughout the islands, as many (especially the big 4 of Waigeo, Misool, Salawati and Batanta) have microclimates that vary substantially from that of Sorong. There’s also a surprising variation in local weather conditions. It’s not unusual for example, to spend a beautiful sunny day on Gam, all the while watching stormclouds pour rain onto the Waigeo highlands a few kilometres away on the other side of the bay.
Raja Ampat lies on the equator and so enjoys a year-round day length of about twelve hours (~6.30am to 6.30pm) Air temperatures are also reliably constant with a daytime average maximum of 31oC (89oF) and a nightly minimum of 25oC (78oF) – although it can often feel hotter than that due to the region’s average relative humidity of 83%! The ocean is warm year-round too, having an average surface temperature of 29oC (84oF).
Being a tropical environment, there are no days of the year where you can be sure it won’t rain, but there’s far less chance of rainy days during the northwest monsoon between October and April. Although this season sees the least rainfall, Raja Ampat’s heaviest rain usually falls in December and January, leading to those months often being referred to as a second wet season. The southeast monsoon months between May and September deliver the bulk of Raja Ampat’s annual rainfall. June and July are historically the wettest months. Even in the wet season though, it doesn’t rain all day, every day – rainfall is often shortlived and localised. As in the above image, it’s not unusual to find yourself afloat on a calm, sunny ocean while rainstorms pass by on the horizon. Don’t let the fact that it’s rainy season discourage you if you can’t organise your journey any other time – the wet season in Raja Ampat isn’t as dramatic or consistent as that affecting destinations like Bali, Thailand and Malaysia.
The middle of the wet season (Mid-June to mid-September) sees days with strong winds which make sea conditions less pleasant. Again – that’s not every day! Underwater visibility isn’t affected, but choppy seas at this time of year can occasionally limit small boat travel between the islands. Locations on the northern shores of islands are the best protected at this time of year.
So when is the best time of year to visit Raja Ampat?
As far as weather is concerned, any time of year is a good one to visit Raja Ampat. Climate and underwater conditions are good all year round – there isn’t really an “off-season”. Sea travel in smaller boats can be problematic in June, July and August, so if you plan on covering a lot of ocean it would probably be best to pick a different time of year. If you just want to relax in a tropical island paradise and do a bit of snorkelling or diving around your chosen island, then any time is great. For a more detailed look at Raja Ampat climate averages, have a look at this weatherbase page.