At the ends of the earth off West Papua lies Raja Ampat, a group of paradise islands, almost unimaginable in beauty. Raja Ampat means ‘The Four Kings’ after the majestically stunning four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Walgeo. Misool Eco Resort is nestled in the southern part of this archipelago, amongst idyllic uninhabited islands and in the most biodiverse marine area of the world within the Coral Triangle. Scattered over the island of Batbitim, it is a paradigm of barefoot luxury and natural perfection in green hills, soft white sand and glittering crystal azure waters.
The property is encircled by their own 1220 square kilometre Marine Protected Area, which is within the vast 46,000 square kilometres Raja Ampat Shark and Manta Sanctuary that Misool Eco Resort helped create. Twenty kilometres from the nearest village by boat and over a hundred to the nearest port, this really is the ultimate eco escapism retreat into one of the last great unexplored seascapes. An ethical adventure destination has been created to combine comfort and discovery.
Scattered across the velvety sand are a selection of secluded villas or over water bungalows floating above the clear azure water where you can watch the rainbows of the myriad of tropical fish darting around below. For pure Robinson Crusoe chic, retreat into Villa Kalanme, hidden away on the private South Beach of the island and accessed by water taxi. There are three large sustainably built large suites utilising hardwoods and traditional thatched roofs. All centred around open air living areas dotted with hammocks and relaxing nooks a mere metres from the clearest turquoise sea ever imaginable. With stunning views from all the rooms out across the seemingly endless ocean, this is the most serene and stunning rustic escape.
Waking up in a water cottage to the lapping and sounds of waves below you on the stilts of your room is a melodically magical way to start the day. Suspended over the sea in your hammock or jumping straight from bed into the blue, these eight rooms are perfect for ocean obsessives who love to be as close to the water as you can get. A short stroll to the diving school or the outdoor restaurant packed with fresh dishes from locally sourced products. Indulge in some homemade biscotti whilst watching swirling baby sharks in the lagoon.
This is naturally a scuba divers oasis with a new underwater excursion so spectacular every day it is hard to believe the beauty of Mother Nature can be so perfect. There is a fully equipped dive centre and a scheduled three dives a day as well as sunset or night dives, however for groups bespoke itineraries can be booked in advance.
Raja Ampat is home to the world’s most biodiverse reefs. In an area equal to two football fields in this area, there are more species than in the entire Caribbean Sea. There are over 1400 species of fish, a plethora of soft and hard coral gardens and new species being discovered all the time, the most recent being the ‘walking’ epaulette shark that is frequently spotted on the resorts reef during night dives. The island is surrounded by a 828 square kilometre No Take Zone (NTZ) meaning inside that all fishing, cyanide and dynamite fishing, shark finning and the harvesting of turtle eggs and shellfish is prohibited. This ensures the reef will continue to grow and be safeguarded for generations to come.
Photos Courtesy of Misool Eco Resort, Calvin Beale, Kevin Korpics, Juergen Freund, Steve Jenkins & Tobias Zimmer