"Dont die before going to Raja Ampat," West Papua Governor Abraham Octanianus Aturury recently stated while promoting Sail Raja Ampat 2014 in Jakarta.
He is not exaggerating while describing the panorama of Raja Ampat, which has abundant natural resources and underwater beauty that has been included in the list of the worlds ten best underwater paradises.
As a marine tourism destination, Raja Ampat offers maritime attractions, but visitors can also indulge in activities such as bird-watching.
Raja Ampat has rare species of birds such as King Cockatoo (Palm Cockatoo) and Cendrawasih or Bird of Paradise.
Raja Ampat has alluring scenery extending from the deep sea to the sky.
Raja Ampat offers unforgettable adventure activities such as diving, snorkeling, trekking, hiking, fishing, and fish-feeding at certain spots.
Aryati, a domestic tourist from Surabaya (East Java Province), recalled her experience while holidaying with her children, Nino and Dio, in Raja Ampat.
As a dean of Pathology of the medicine faculty of the University of Airlangga, she decided to take a leave and brought a tourism package offered on an Internet website.
She chose a three-day stay package to explore the beauty of the Piainemo Isle, Hidden Bay, Arborek and Pasir Timbul tourism kampongs, which have distinctive features.
One has to climb a 35-meter-high wooden stair to reach the top of a cliff in Piainemo. From the top, tourists can enjoy fascinating views of several green isles spread across the blue sea.
Piainemo is also dubbed as "Little Wayag" because its panorama is similar to Wayang Isle, the icon of Raja Ampat District. Tourists, however, prefer to visit Piainemo as it is closer than Wayag.
Wayag is located in the northernmost area and takes six to seven hours to reach.
"Wow! It is worth it to climb such an exhausting flight of stairs for this amazingly beautiful scenery," Aryati breathlessly remarked.
In Hidden Bay, tourists can enjoy a cluster of hundreds of coral isles, which feels similar to walking into a labyrinth.
Another interesting destination is Arborek tourism kampong, which is also a good location for snorkeling and diving.
"Actually, a three-day stay is not enough to enjoy the beautiful panorama of Raja Ampat. Ideally, it should be one week to explore every location," Ranny Tumundo, a tourist guide in Waiwo Resort, Waisai, emphasized.
Coordinating Minister for Peoples Welfare Agung Laksono earlier explained that the objective of organizing Sail Raja Ampat is to accelerate regional development, improve infrastructure, and boost investment in West Papua.
"In Raja Ampat, there is a geopark that is more beautiful than the one in Halong Bay, Vietnam," Minister Agung Laksono claimed.
Raja Ampat is also often called "Heaven on Earth", "Miracle of Papua", "Underwater Paradise on Earth", or "Real Wonder of the World" for its mesmerizing marine panorama.
Raja Ampat, which literally means "Four Kings", is derived from a local myth and has one of the most beautiful marine panoramas in the world.
The archipelago comprises around 1.7 thousand islands and encompasses more than 9.8 million acres of land and sea off the northwestern tip of the West Papua Province. It has four major islands: Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta, and Misool, which are home to ancient rock paintings.
In 2012, Raja Ampat has been included in the Real Wonder of the World list. It has been recognized as one of the worlds 10 most beautiful diving sites and rated number one for its rich diversity of marine flora and fauna.
It has 1,320 fish species; 75 percent of the worlds coral species, 10 times the number of corals in Caribbean; five species of rare turtles; 57 species of mantis shrimps; 13 species of marine mammals; and 27 species of rare fish.
There are also 60 varieties of crayfish, 699 types of soft animals or species of mollusks, comprising 530 species of snails (Gastropoda), 159 species of shells (bivalva), two species of Scaphopoda, five species of squid (Cephalopoda), and three Chiton species.
Dr John Veron, Australias noted coral expert, has acknowledged that Raja Ampat has the best coral reef in Indonesia. During a two-week research project in Raja Ampat, he identified around 450 species of corals.
As part of the Sail Indonesia series, Sail Raja Ampat is the sixth event after Sail Bunaken in 2009, Sail Banda in 2010, Sail Wakatobi-Belitung in 2011, Sail Morotai in 2012, and Sail Komodo in 2013.
The international maritime events are organized with the objective of promoting tourism in the regions, accelerating the development programs, improving access to isolated or remote areas, and improving the welfare of the people. (Antara)