Raja Ampat for non-divers

Walking the sandbanks between Gam and Mansuar at low tide

What’s to do in Raja Ampat for non-divers? You don’t have to be a diver to have the best time in Raja Ampat. It’s not widely realised that Raja Ampat’s terrestrial biodiversity is every bit as rich as that of its more famous marine environment.

The islands also offer great experiences for those interested in…

If you’re a diver, you probably already know Raja Ampat is as close as you’re ever going to get to heaven on earth. The beauty of Raja Ampat’s marine environments is that they are so diverse, rich and accessible that you don’t have to be a diver to be enthralled by the ever changing kaleidoscope of form and colour beneath the region’s waves.

There’s a huge range of ocean life able to be explored on a single lungful of air. Even pelagic species like manta rays can be found close to shore in waters shallow enough for them to be seen by simply donning a mask and snorkel and floating on the surface… though there’s nothing quite like taking a breath and getting down amongst them!

Even if you can’t swim at all, Raja Ampat’s tides make it possible to see an amazing range of marine animals. For a few hours every day coral reefs and sand flats emerge from the ocean and can be explored with ease. Coral, fish, rays and octopuses, squid, snakes, jelly and starfish – the shallows and pools created by the outgoing tides are almost as rich as the open ocean. Spend a minute looking down from almost any homestay jetty and you’ll be amazed.

Above the waterline, the myriad islands of the archipelago present ornate landscapes conjured by wind, wave and rainfall from an ancient limestone. Draped in dense tropical forest and fringed by mangroves, the islands’ baroque topography creates ecological niches every bit as diverse and rich as those beneath the waves.

Resounding with bird and insect calls, sheltering birds of paradise, cuscus and countless other forms of terrestrial life, the jungles of Raja Ampat abound in trekking opportunities and still offer the chance of encountering creatures and plants yet to be entered in any scientific taxonomy.

Raja Ampat’s cultural heritage is rich and diverse too, ranging from neolithic shell middens and prehistoric cave paintings, through relics from the era of the Four Kings who once ruled here and gave the region its name, to remnants of a more recent history such as the cave bunkers and seabed wreckage remaining from the Second World War.

There’s a lot to see and do in Raja Ampat for non-divers, but at the same time, you couldn’t pick a better place to get away from it all. Between the jungle’s dawn bird chorus and the ocean’s reflected sunset glow there’s nothing but the calm passing of another day, lost in a tropical island paradise.

See our land based adventures in Raja Ampat page for more detailed recommendations and tour operators…


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  1. mari on

    Selama pagi ,
    We are 2 frenchs , and we will be to Raja Ampat in february . Of course we like snorkeling but, is it possible fishing in Raja Ampat , with local people , from a little boat doing hopping island , during few days ? ( my husband brings always his materiel )
    thank you for your relay, best regards , Patricia

    1. Hello Patricia

      Only subsistence fishing by local people is allowed inside Raja Ampat’s Marine Protected Areas, but there are a couple of homestays that offer fishing trips outside of those. See the “Activities” section of Raja Ampat Diva and Subdikar Homestay pages.

  2. Adam on

    Hi, we wanted to do raja ampat but not liveaboard.
    Is it possible to see Whale Sharks this way?

    1. Hi Adam

      Whale sharks are only rarely seen in Raja Ampat and are not known to frequent any particular place there. You would have to be extremely lucky to see one! Cenderawasih Bay is the place to go if you want to be guaranteed a whale shark encounter.

  3. Marith Zindel on


    We are planning to go to Raja Ampat during Chinese New Year, 1-7 oct. Are the home-stays normally full during that week? Or can we just come and book day by day and move around a bit?

    1. Hi Marith

      You will always be able to find homestay accommodation without booking in advance – as long as you don’t want to stay at the most popular ones! The Waisai Homestay Information Center will be able to help you if you arrive without having booking or transport to the islands arranged.

  4. Maria on

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the great website. Is there any surfing in Raja Ampat? Do you know about good surf spots and best time of the year for surfing? Is there surfing equipment for rent and are there surf schools? Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Maria

      Surf exists in Raja Ampat. We know, because we’ve seen the photos. The location was really remote though. Up near Ayau. Quite difficult to get to, and no homestays there yet. There are no surf schools or equipment hire places anywhere in Raja Ampat that we know of.

  5. schoenher monique on

    Hello I am thinking about coming very sooooon, in June to visit Raja Ampat. I Will travel alone. I cannot dive but I enjoy snorkeling. I also love trecking and nature in general. I have read that there are possibilities to do a “cruise” even just for snorkeling. I do not need luxury and could not afford it anyway, but I still need a minimum of confort (getting older!)
    Do you have any recommandations? Is June a bad moment? I can also travel in September, would it be much better?
    Thank’s for your help.

  6. Marie on

    We are planning a trip to Raja Ampat for this summer. My husband loves fishing, will he be able to go line-fishing on the ground, or on the boat while on a diving tour for example? Or are there regulations against that?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Marie

      Fishing is only permitted outside the Marine Protected Areas and the sasi protection zones at various homestays and villages. Most dive sites can’t be fished. Your hosts will be able to tell you more.

  7. Elisabeth on

    We are planning to go there this coming May 2017 with 20months old baby.
    Do you have any tips or suggestion on trips with baby :)
    Terima kasih

    1. Hi Elisabeth –

      That’s a hard one. Malaria, while not common, is definitely a risk in Raja Ampat. We’re not qualified to give you advice about that. Apart from malaria, the only other risk for a two year old might be gastrointestinal illness. Western standard medical care isn’t available in Raja Ampat if anything bad should happen. You should probably consult a professional!

  8. Matthew on

    Hi. Is there a discussion board so tourists or would-be tourists can discuss and share dates in hope to travel together? Sharing costs etc, since traveling in Raja Ampat can be a little expensive. If we can pool sharing boats etc. Would be great. I am heading there in early October, in about 2 weeks. :)


    1. Hi Matthew – there isn’t one on the website yet, but it’s getting close to the time when we need to add one isn’t it? :) In the meantime, you’re welcome to post requests fro travelling companions on any relevant website page or over on our facebook page.

  9. Jonny wish on

    HEY there wats good.. me and my pal is planning to go raja ampat on this September. wanna ask you is there any orang asli or native people that we can visit or have a tour in there village. just wanna experience their culture and life style.. take a few photo of them for my logbook perhaps..thanks

    1. Hi Jonny –

      Almost all the inhabitants of Raja Ampat villages are orang asli – although the “real” orang asli are the Maya people who live in the villages of Teluk Mayalibit.

  10. Lisanne on

    Hii! We are planning a trip to Raja Ampat in July this year, not the most convenient time for diving/snorking so I’ve read. But is it stil possible to find some snorkling areas in July? And what would be the best areas to go to (especially to see manta rays and whale sharks)

    1. Hi Lisanne –

      The sheltered north coasts of islands like Kri, Mansuar and Birie are fine for snorkelling in July. See full weather and climate details here. The peak time for mantas is mid-October to mid-May though, so you may not see them in July. Whale sharks are not common visitors to Raja Ampat and you’d be very lucky to ever see them there. Cenderawasih Bay on the north coast of the Papuan mainland is the hotspot for whale sharks.

      1. Lisanne on

        Thank you for the fast reply!

  11. Laura on

    We’re thinking of going to Raja Ampat during Christmas/ New Year period, we’re non divers so we’d like to do activities on land, island hopping and snorkelling. Would late Dec be a good time to travel or would we be getting a lot of rain for on land activities and quite muddy and slippery to look around? And would it get really choppy for snorkelling? Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura –

      Full weather and climate info is available here. December’s great for snorkelling, but can sometimes be wet, particularly at Waigeo. Not so much on the smaller islands. Even on Waigeo it won’t rain all day, every day!

  12. Eva on


    We would like to stay 6-7 nights in a homestay (next october), where we can snorkeling easily without taking a boat, where we can enjoy walks to the top to have great views, lay on a nice beach and maybe have a one-day dive. Would you have any island or homestay to recommand ? Around 350.000/person (we are a couple). It’s hard to choose when we do not know raja ampat :)

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Eva –

      Almost every homestay on the site has good snorkelling nearby. To quickly find a list of homestays with great snorkelling at the door, use the Show advanced search on the accommodation page and select the “Good house reef” checkbox. You can also select a price range, beach type and any other criteria you want. Then hit the blue “Search accommodation” button to see a list of homestays that match your selected criteria.

      Not exactly sure what views you’re looking for, but homestays on Kri are probably the best ones to choose from if you want to be able to walk to a high point for views. Hope that helps! :)

  13. Bonzi on

    Hi I’ve found your site very useful for planning my trip. So just to add information, during my research, I came across Bisnis Indonesia dated 7 April 2013, which includes an article on Kabui Island by Roni Yunianto. Here is a bit of summary point :

    ” There was information regarding some travel package options i.e.: Waisai to Kabui (est. Rp. 2.500.000), Kabui-Hidden Bay-Arborek (est. Rp.5.000.000), Koh-Yembuba/Mensuar (est. Rp.1.000.000), and Meos Kon-Friwen-Batu Lima and Saonek Monde (est. below Rp.1.000.000). These packages are excluding diving fee (est Rp.350.000-Rp.550.000 / dive) and dive equipments rental fee (est. Rp. 50.000- Rp.350.000). 1 small fibre speed boat with 2 engines can hold 10 passengers including the crews.

    An hour trip from Kabui, there will be view similar to Halong Bay of Vietnam or Krabi Island in Thailand with numerous karst island. Traveller might be able to land on some island with guide and maybe snorkelling in certain areas. “

    I am not sure how accurate or recent these informations are and there weren’t more details provided in the short article. Just thought I’d share. Keep up the good work, Admins!

  14. arista on

    Raja ampat is trully Heaven On and in Earth
    like your blog,
    because of your blog i can meet Robben and his team
    and i hope see u :)

    1. Stay Raja Ampat on

      It is isn’t it Arista? Thanks! We hope you had a wonderful time in Raja Ampat and maybe one day we see you there. All the best :)

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