Snorkeling in Indonesia: Raja Ampat

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of 17,000 islands located at the heart of the Coral Triangle. Indonesia is home to more than 20% of the world’s coral reefs, and hosts pristine coral gardens, which support the richest marine biodiversity on earth. Once you start snorkeling in Indonesia, you’ll never get tired of exploring these warm, calm and crystal-clear waters. Imagine snorkeling with colorful clownfish, ancient sea turtles, giant manta rays and even the largest fish on earth, the mighty whale shark.


Manta ray snorkeling
Manta rays are one of the highlights of snorkeling in Raja Ampat


Indonesia lays in the “Coral Triangle”, an area of the Pacific Ocean which also includes Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Indonesia. This coral-rich area, which represents barely 1% of the ocean’s surface area, concentrates the greatest underwater biodiversity in the world. It is estimated that it contains 35% of all species of reef fish in the world (over 3000 species).

To the far east of Indonesia lays the Raja Ampat archipelago in West Papua. Known as the ‘Last Paradise On Earth’, Raja Ampat (the Four Kings) is renowned for its pristine natural beauty, both above water and below. For snorkelers, Raja Ampat reveals a treasure trove of marine life every time you take a glimpse underwater. Once you’ve snorkeled in Raja Ampat it’s hard to find anywhere that comes even close to comparison.


Raja Ampat travel
Raja Ampat Islands at sunset – the ‘Last Paradise on Earth’


What Marine Life Can I see in Raja Ampat?

From droves of jewel-like glimmering damselfish darting in and out of the corals through to majestic manta rays which swoop gracefully beneath you, there isn’t much you can’t see when snorkeling in Raja Ampat. From the deck of El Aleph you can also expect to see some amazing marine mammals during your cruise; dolphins are almost guaranteed and surfacing whales are seen too. During your snorkeling sessions, you’ll be swimming over Indonesia’s most vibrant, healthy and colourful reef systems which are home to literally hundreds of different species. Some of our favourites include batfish, parrotfish, sweetlips, trumpetfish, blue-spotted stingrays, pufferfish and Raja Ampat’s endemic walking sharks – which are completely harmless and intriguing to watch.


raja ampat reef
Raja Ampat’s rocky islets are surrounded by coral reefs which are teeming with life


What are the Snorkeling Conditions Like in Raja Ampat?

Raja Ampat’s snorkeling sites cover a vast range of underwater topographies from snorkeling over shallow water coral gardens in tranquil lagoons through to drifting over vast sloping coral reefs. There are also numerous rocky outcroppings and islets which are surrounded by stunning reefs just beneath the surface.  Regardless of the reef formation, you’ll find generally good visibility, warm water, and easy conditions. If we are snorkeling and there is any current, just go with the flow (and the fish) and one of our small tender boats will come and pick you up. This is your holiday – relax and enjoy it!

In the event that there is wind or waves in Raja Ampat, the natural lay of the islands means that there are always sheltered lagoons and bays regardless of wind direction.


Snorkeling Indonesia
Underwater, Raja Ampat reveals incredible marine life – often just beneath the surface


Do I Need Experience to go Snorkeling in Raja Ampat?

No, you do not need to have previous snorkeling experience although you must be comfortable in the water. Our crew will help you with fitting the snorkeling equipment and provide you with a briefing for each spot. For those who are not comfortable swimming in the ocean, we also carry life jackets and life rings which can be used during snorkeling. We choose where we go snorkeling according to the conditions (see above) and are fortunate that in Raja Ampat there are countless amazing options!


Do I Need a Boat or Can I Snorkel from the Shore?

In Raja Ampat there are some coral reefs that are just a step of the beach. Many of the richest reefs, and those with the most pristine corals, tend to be around small rocket islets and we use our small tender boats to take you to these spots. In some areas, we also snorkel from the beach but by boat gives access to the best spots.


Rja Ampat luxury liveaboard
El Aleph in Raja Ampat, Indonesia


When is the Best Time to go Snorkeling in Indonesia?

In Indonesia, the climate is always warm and humid on land. Water temperature at the surface in Raja Ampat averages from 82 to 86°F (28 to 30°C) – making snorkeling possible all year round.

November to April are the hottest months in Indonesia (air temperature up to 32°C.) The driest period is between May and October, which is when temperatures average 86°F/28°C. Due to Raja Ampat’s proximity to the Equator, there is always the chance of rain showers but these are usually short in duration and help to bring down the air temperature.


Luxury Liveaboard
Enjoy El Aleph as you would a floating five-star hotel


So are you ready to snorkel, cruise and explore Raja Ampat with us?

El Aleph is fully equipped with sea kayaks, snorkeling and scuba diving equipment, donut ring, bodyboard, water skis and more, so there is always plenty to do onboard and in the water when you are not onshore. For those who want to take their cruise at a more relaxed pace, there is nothing better than watching the tropical landscape pass by in this incredible region that really does take you off the grid.

To make a reservation or inquiry, please contact us using our contact form or email us at and we will get right back to you.

Please note that for your comfort, luxury and privacy we only take bookings for full charters and not for private cabins.

Sarah Wormald