Unlock the unparalleled beauty and wonders that await in this underwater paradise with our ultimate guide to the best snorkeling in Raja Ampat. We unveil the top 14 snorkeling spots you will not want to miss.
Raja Ampat is one of the greatest snorkeling destinations in the world, if not the greatest. Being snorkel addicts we've spent almost 10 months in this gorgeous region of West Papau, Indonesia, exploring the many islands, atolls and reefs throughout the Dampier Strait.
The sheer marine diversity of this national park is truly outstanding, with so many world class reefs to chose from, it was hard task to pick our favorite spots.
14. Batu Lima
Batu Lima or ‘Five Rocks’ is a small outcrop of rocks located approximately 300 metres or so from the Biodiversity Nature Resort and Yenanas Paradise Homestay on Pulau Gam.
This unusual formation of 5 big rocks, create small under-hangs and nooks which are very fun to explore and snorkel through, especially when schooling fish swoop in-and-out of them.
Surrounding the rocks, there are many coral bommies covered in beautiful gorgonian sea fans.
This site is easily accessible from the beach or Biodiversity Nature Resort's jetty located opposite on Pulau Gam. From there, you can follow the reef eastwards, crossing a small open water channel.
13. Beser Bay
There are several different areas to explore here, which make this beautiful secluded bay an excellent choice for serious snorkel enthusiasts.
The best section of reef runs along the opening to the south western of the bay. Keeping the mangroves to your left, follow the reef for as long as you can. Prestine corals can be found about 100 m along and go on for almost 1.5 km.
If you’re a strong swimmer it's possible to reach the first village Kapisawar. This stretch is full of life and constant surprises. We’ve spotted octopus, mantas, eagle rays, boxfish, puffers, seasnakes, sea turtles, and even dugongs!
Night snorkeling is also fantastic here, with the potential to see crocodile fish, scorpionfish, cuttlefish and the infamous walking shark.
Be aware not to enter and exit the bay at low tide. The corals are incredibly shallow, making it almost impossible to reach the drop-off after a certain point. If you wish to snorkel at this time, it is better to enter from the northern side of the island.
From the northern entry point, you can follow the karst limestone outcrop on the left, it is possible to circle around to the main reef from here, but be careful of currents.
12. Kapisawar Jetty
Technically this could be classed as an extension of Beser Bay, since the drop-off runs from Besar Bay all the way along the mangroves to the village of Kapisawar.
It’s a pretty epic snorkeling session (approx 3 km total, back and forth) so you could get dropped off at either Kapisawar Jetty or Besar Bay and go with the current.
This is not a well-known snorkeling site, with only a couple of homestays hidden in the mangroves. We can confirm that it is definitely worth a look-see, as the reef is mostly intact and breathtakingly beautiful.
The current can be strong, turning into more of a drift in places, but floating above this incredible reef is simply a joy. It’s also worth noting that after a storm or high waves, this area can be susceptible to low vis and a collection of debris on the surface. But don’t let this put you off, keep your head down and enjoy the view.
The marine life is all you could ask for, here we’ve seen mantas, eagle rays, sharks, turtles, cuttlefish and seasnakes, amongst many other species of fish.
11. Yenkoranu Jetty
The reef running from Yenkoranu to Mambetron Homestay on the northern shores of Pulau Kri is wonderful and frequently offers great visibility.
Entry is normally made from the jetty of Yenkoranu. From here, follow the drop-off along the coast to the black and white buoys at Mambetron.
This section of reef has a good mixture of hard and soft corals, along with excellent marine life, including big schools of blue and yellow fusiliers, red-tooth triggerfish, large patterned pufferfish, black-tip reef sharks, turtles and much more.
Clear visibility and unchallenging conditions give this veteran reef its good name. For children and beginner snorkelers, this is a great place to start.
10. Sawinggrai Village
Sawinggrai Village located on Southern Gam, has just as much to explore underwater as it does overwater. This quaint village is famous for being home to West Papua’s iconic bird of paradise.
Being mindful of the current running along the coastline here (it can be strong) enter from the main floating jetty, or approximately 2 km to the right of the village, past Nudibranch Homestay depending on the currents direction.
Although the shallows will call for your attention, don’t forget to keep your eyes on the blue as the big stuff has a habit of appearing out of nowhere. If you're lucky you might see eagle rays, or maybe even a passing manta.
The tiny island of Arborek, reminiscent of a Maldivian atoll, is famed for its main jetty and the schools of fish swarming around it.
It is true that on a good day, the jetty is impressive for marine life. Unfortunately, being a very popular site for day tours, the corals attached to the jetty have degraded quite severely.
You can avoid the groups of tour boats by snorkeling out to the west of the main jetty. There's a special spot between the second jetty and Barefoot Conservation. Around 100 metres from the shore, during the hour before sunset, we often found this area to contain plenty of hunting fish action.
This sweet spot had shoals of glistening mackerel with tuna and giant trevally hunting them. Manta also frequent this area.
Keep following the reef around past the Barefoot Conservation jetty and be greeted by a beautiful shallow reef of hard and soft corals.
8. Friwen Wall
Friwen Wall is a famous snorkeling and dive site on the northern side of Friwen Bonda. This impressively steep karst island is located near the eastern tip of Pulau Gam... and the snorkeling here is sublime.
Friwen Wall can only be reached by boat, it has a small jetty for entry or exiting your snorkel, this will depend on the direction of the current.
The reef drops off abruptly, but much of the beauty can be seen from just 2 meters.
The unusual coral infrastructure at Friwen Wall is kaleidoscopic. Its huge reddish gorgonian sea fans, black corals, purple pipe corals, orange carnation corals and iridescent sponges make this spot a feast for the eyes!
This pristine reef and healthy topography is also home to an array of strange critters and heaps of impressive macro life such as boxfish, puffers, porcupine fish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranches, crustaceans and more.
7. Yenbuba Jetty
Yenbuba Jetty is located on the eastern tip of Pulau Mansuar, and is probably the second most famous jetty in Raja Ampat's Dampier Strait. There is however much more to this place than just stilts in the water
Gorgeous sea-fans are attached to this simple wooden jetty, and a healthy reef runs either side of it. You can even snorkel across to the island of Kri, passing the tiny in-between islet of Raniswor.
This adventurous crossing is advised for the more active snorkeler, since the current running between the two islands can be strong. But if you make it, expect to see lots of big stuff like reef sharks, barracuda and turtles.
6. Cape Kri
Cape Kri is one of the most famous sites for diving in Raja Ampat, but it is not for the faint hearted! This vast cape reaches across from the eastern tip of of Kri to the island and sandbank of Pasir Timbul, and currents at this point run wild.
For snorkelers, it is important to get the timing right. If the current is too strong, it is easy to get blown off course. Good snorkeling fins are a necessity at this site.
The reef itself is deep, so be prepared to spend a lot of time looking down into the blue. However, your efforts will be compensated by big pelagics and vast schools of fish. This thrilling snorkel will set pulses racing and we love it!
5. Mangrove Reef
Mangrove Reef is located on the southern tip of Pulau Yanggelo, right at the entrance to the mangrove channel, leading up to the more popular dive site "Citrus Ridge".
This rarely visited site stretches along Western Gam for at least 1 km. Depending on the conditions, frequent surge mixed with a strong current can make snorkeling here wild, but definitely rewarding.
This rather extreme snorkel site will reward you with excellent visibility, stunning coral formations and impressive schools of fish. Trevally, jacks, tuna, barracuda, you name it, they are all here. We have even glimpsed an oceanic hammerhead shark in this vacinity.
The reef is untouched, unusual and teeming with life. Mangrove Reef never disappoints, and easily offers some of the best snorkeling in Raja Ampat.
4. Citrus Ridge
Citrus Ridge is a breathtaking dive site, a little further afield from the main Dampier Strait, tucked between a mangrove channel hidden in the most south-western depths of Gam.
The name of this site was given from the impressive amount of citrus colored soft corals, which can be found up to 15 meters deep within the channel.
This spot is fairly well-known to dive liveaboards, so the likelihood is you won’t be the lone boat, but trust when we say that this site will leave you feeling incredibly remote.
Enter on the north-western beach, there is a jetty, follow the reef to the main channel of water whilst keeping the mangroves to your right.
After approximately 500 metres, make the bold crossing (200 meters) over to the opposite side (east side) of the channel. You’ll feel like a small fish in a big ocean, but trust us it's worth the slightly nerve-racking swim.
The best fish action here can be found at the most northern tip on the east side of the channel, the surge and current is super strong, but this attracts the bigger schools and sharks.
3. Otdima Reef
Otdima is a pinnacle reef centered in the middle of the Dampier Strait. Using the village of Yenbekwan on Mansuar and Papua Explorers on Gam as rough landmarks, Otdima lies right in-between.
A reef rarely frequented, especially by snorkelers. For snorkelers, it is recommended to visit at low tide, since the reef is 4-5 metres at its shallowest.
If you freedive, this is heaven. The coral is mostly hard, but it is vast, and smothered in fish action. In fact it is probably one of the single most fishy snorkel spots we’ve ever been to.
Highways of different species drift in between the corals, everything is alive and moving. While all of this action is going on, adult black and white tip sharks advance from the blue. Manta rays occasionally grace their presence, and we've seen oceanic stingrays over 2 meters in diameter here too. It is a reef full of surprises and worth visiting numerous times, to truly appreciate.
The current here is frequently strong so make sure your boat stays close, in case you need assistance.
2. Sauwandarek Village
Sauwandarek Village is located on the southern coast of Pulau Mansuar, nestled in a picture perfect cove, and has probably one of the world’s best beaches for snorkeling.
The house reef of Sauwandarek runs the entire length of a gorgeous white sandy beach. Follow this along and discover a mind-blowing variety of marine life.
There are a number of famous jetties in Raja Ampat, but the jetty at Sauwandarek is easily our favorite. Its beautiful underside is covered in colorful gorgonian sea fans, and shelters a mixing pot of friendly angelfish, groupers and a resident giant napoleon wrasse.
Around 100 metres to the west of the jetty is Sauwandareks 'sweet spot’. Out here in the blue we found ribboned sweetlips, giant groupers, triggerfish, reef shark, turtles and a huge school of yellow and blueback fusiliers.
The warm clear shallows have a lot to offer too. There are young soft corals, pretty anemones and baby black-tip sharks, so don’t forget to check out this area as well.
Once you’re wrinkly from all the snorkeling, dry off on the jetty or wander around the tiny village and play with the local children.
1. Tamaku Reef
Hidden in the depths of Manyaifun Island (en route to Wayag), is Tamaku Reef. You might have trouble finding it, but trust us, it is well worth the wild goose chase.
This long, narrow atoll rises within one metre of the surface, and it really is what coral reef dreams are made of.
Warm, clear waters lap around the outskirts of a pristine reef, offering a variety of eye-popping hard and soft corals and a wide array of fish species.
We were particularly impressed by the volume of colorful anthias and abundance of reef sharks.
If you can picture the ideal reef for snorkeling, Tamuka could well be it!
A taste of Raja Ampat snorkeling
Best time to snorkel raja ampat
In Raja Ampat, October to April is regarded as the ideal snorkeling season because of the lower humidity, calmer seas, and higher visibility.
Large quantities of manta rays are also visible at cleaning stations from November to March. However these months are also the most visited by divers.
Between June and September, there is typically more rain. Although the currents often remain constant throughout the entire year. Those who are seasick may want to make alternative travel arrangements, as the seas can get much rougher at this time of year.
Raja Ampat experiences a high UV index all year, so it's essential to come prepared with UPF clothing and reef-safe sunscreen.
Snorkeling gear for Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is renowned for its strong and wild currents. A strong current could lead to unpredictable situations for a lone snorkeler, in a place as remote as Raja Ampat, this is potentially very dangerous.
Good snorkeling gear is vital, but will be almost impossible to buy or rent in Raja Ampat. Encountering jellyfish stings, coral rashes, ear infections, and sunburn can be extremely bothersome, and nobody wants to discover that their mask is leaking or their fins are inefficient.
Check out our full snorkel gear checklist for highly rated equipment.
Hi guys! Thanks heaps for this fantastic article. My husband and I are keen to come and do some snorkelling. We did the Great Barrier reef during lockdown but we’re looking for pretty easy islands to explore . I’m a little anxious about reading about the salty crocodiles. Am I being silly or are there islands better then others? Thanks for your help.
Hi. I have been following your posts for a while now. I just love finding these gems where I can snorkel in peace and leave with a tear in my eye.
I am considering Indonesia for our 2024 holiday.
I love to snorkel and enjoy taking my time to watch fish behaviour. We have been to the Maldives many times, once to Palawan, Seychelles and Thailand more than once, Hawaii, Chumbe and Zanzibar..
I am confident on land and timid in the water. Misool is probably the perfect place for me but then I will have to delay the trip for a few years until I can save up and get a booking.
Or I can visit the Raja Ampat before it is too late. Papau Explorers and Biodiversity seem to have great house reefs. I just have to convince my husband he can survive without A/C and good wine for 10 days. Cove Eco Resort sent me a good quote but I have concerns about the house reef.
I will be content with an incredible house reef and an en suite bathroom with a western shower and toilet.
It would be much appreciated if you could send me your recommendations. I do realise you don’t stay at resorts but I know you have the inside track.
I would also consider a lesser know island or resort if the house reef will keep me happy for a week,
Thank you so very much.
Thank you for your excellent post! I am a snorkeller and my husband is an advanced scuba diver who prefers solo shore dives and he will bring his own equipment, just needs air tanks. Do you know if solo shore diving is allowed in Raja Ampat? He has done it for many years on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. We would like to stay at 3 spots x 5 days each in a home stay with an ensuite and a real bed. We would fly into Sorong right? What itinerary and home stays would you recommend? We do not want to pay for luxury just want to be comfortable and be right at great spots for snorkeling and shore diving. Is there a good home stay on Piaynemo and would you recommend that? As of now July 2023 our Canadian government travel advisor states the travel to Indonesia Papua should be avoided due to political unrest and crime. Is this really a concern in Raja Ampat? Thanks so much for your help!!
Hi Marco, thanks for your comment! We just returned from two incredible months in Raja. Are you planning to stay in one of the resorts, or at a homestay?
We only have experience with the homestays, who are able to provide vegetarian meals as long as you let them know beforehand (we recommend reiterating this on arrival). You can expect things such as delicious veggie curries, Indonesian fried corn fritters, tempe and of course, rice. As for the resorts, I am sure they are familiar with catering for all but better to check with them directly to be sure.
With regards to sundowners, again these should be freely available at the resorts, however this is not always possible from homestays. Occasionally some places will keep stock, but they are often warm as there is no refrigerator. If you make a request with your hosts, they will usually be very happy to pick up beers for you from the nearest source – either a local village shop, or from Waisai. I can confirm that cold beers are available on the island of Arborek, and at the small shop in Sawingraii village, on Gam.
Based on your specifications, we would recommend looking at Sauwandarek village, on the island of Mansuar. The snorkelling here is fantastic (one of our favourite spots) and the house reef can be accessed directly from the beach / jetty. Here you will find huge schools of fish, giant groupers, barracuda, sharks, turtles, napoleon wrasse… There is no shortage of big stuff.
As for your friend, the beach is stunning and perfect for relaxing. There is also a small village with lots of friendly locals, plus a jungle hiking trail which takes you past a hidden lake and over to the south side of the island.
There are no resorts in Sauwandarek, only homestays. Although we have not stayed there personally, we have looked at Erens Guesthouse which is a brand new place with two fantastic bungalows right on the beach. These have ensuite bathrooms and beds, which is a bonus!
We will gladly send you the secret snorkel spots by email, and donations can be made to our Paypal Account. We’ll send our details to you in a PM.
Thanks so much – Nick
Thanks a lot for your effort! I will be in Raja Ampat in February, for approximately 2 weeks. I am looking for a basic resort offering vegetarian (non-spicy) food, great snorkeling right from the beach/ jetty. I am mainly interested in bigger stuff and I am an experienced snorkeler. But my co-traveller will possibly hang out at the beach mostly and not spend as much time underwater. So a beach would be nice.
An the option to do short jungle walks whenever we might get bored. Not sure if we are asking too much and should consider switching resorts during our stay to get all of it.
Aaaah, very important detail: We love our sundowner beer 🙂 Can I expect to get this in any resort?
I also like your approach not to share the secret spots publicly. And I would be very happy to hear about them by email. And why not offering the option to donate for your efforts? I would definitely be willing to do so!
Hi Sandra, thanks for commenting and happy to hear we have inspired your travels! Travelling between islands in the main Dampier Strait (Gam, Kri, Mansuar, Arborek, Piaynemo) is very easy to do. Your homestay host can arrange day trips and transfers to pretty much anywhere within this region, and journeys take approx 30mins -1.5 hours depending on sea conditions and where you are going. You could definitely stay 5 nights per island then move on, however do consider that boat transfers are costly, but as you are a group you can split the cost. It’s tricky for us to suggest the best spots for you without knowing a little more about your skill level, for example are you experienced snorkelers confident with current? Do you like open ocean reefs, or prefer snorkelling off-shore?
Hi, we are a group of mature snorkellers !, trying to plan our first trip to Raja Ampat . We thought about staying on a few islands , possibly 5 nights each place. Wondered
We are a snorkeling group that comes in January for the second time in R4.
We stayed and will stay again in the bay of mayalibit bay at mayalibit bay cottage wonderful place, comfortable and great hosts.
We made 6 snorkeling trips in the west area of R4 and we were very excited.
We would be very grateful if you would indicate the coordinates for the secret places discovered.
Thanks for your comments. We are quite experienced snorkelers, done Sipidan , Ningaloo and Barrier reefs. First preference would be off shore, followed by open ocean reef . Not so confident if current really strong. Good to hear traveling between islands in main Dampier strait easy. Thanks for your help, it is appreciated. Sandra
Hey Carla, thanks for your comment.
I haven’t snorkeled in any of the areas around Misool so unfortunately can’t offer any recommendations for south R4.
If snorkeling is your highest priority in central R4, I would recommend you stay at Corepen, as you can join the dive boat as a snorkeler. They also have a smaller excursion boat you can charter and go to any of the snorkel spots mentioned in this post. I would also recommend the homestays at Sauwandarek village, purely for there location to great snorekeling off the jetty. Besar Bay homestay is next to some of the best Manta spots in R4, but as you are only thinking of staying 3-4 days, Corepen would be easier to arrange trips. Alternatively the dive resorts on Gam or Kri are well positioned to get you to these spots.
Thank you for your super informative blog specifically geared towards snorkeling as I have found most of my online searches tend to return results based more around diving.
I am considering going to Misool Eco Resort. Have you snorkeled in any of the areas around there? What are your recommendations?
If I was to add on and spend a 3 or 4 more nights North Raja Ampat where do you suggest I stay that would be accessible to some of your favourites spots like Beser Bay or any other spot that would typically have mantas that are visible while snorkeling?
Thank you so much in advance for your guidance.
Thanks for your comment Pete.
As a group of beginner to intermediate snorkelers I wouldn’t recommend Melissa’s garden, the corals here although stunning, are a bit too deep to be fully appreciated by snorkelers, unless free diving is your thing. Sometimes the current can also be strong at this spot. As an alternative I’d recommend snorkeling Fam Wall from early morning to mid-day.
Arborek is not one of our favourite locations and the jetty is actually rather average in terms of coral. I’d swop this for Sawanderek Jetty on South Mansuar anyday of the week.
This information is fantastic! I’ve spent about 5 years trying to piece together information about Raja Ampat from various websites and books and have tons of questions. It would be a small group of friends who would go with me hopefully within the next 2 or 3 years (probably in a future November), and we’d do snorkeling. The swimming skills would be beginner to intermediate, so I am planning on trying to avoid areas with strong currents, which admittedly limits options. I would personally love to see crinoids. Spotted eagle rays would also be great as well as various sharks (wobbegongs and others would be great), nudibranches, and random other things like sea snakes, cuttlefish, octopus, gastropods (we know to be wary of cones), and anything odd or unusual. I was thinking of staying in Arborek for a few days and using it to see Piaynemo and Melissa’s Garden and snorkeling near the Arborek jetty and such. I think I’d like to do another location- we don’t have tons of time, unfortunately- maybe Nudibranch Homestay or Beser Bay and see if we can also do some hikes on land, too, to see birds-of-paradise and rainforest fauna and flora. Though, I’m also debating places like Warahnus Homestay, the Friwen area, and Batu Lima Homestay. I guess I’d like to see a diversity of species as much as possible- not try to repeat seeing the same species and habitats time and again- and realize this may be my only time going halfway around the world to Raja Ampat, so I want to do it right. So, feel free to modify or suggest changes to the plan. I would really like to see some crinoids, those are my top priority!! It doesn’t need to be a million of them, just a snorkel or two that has a good amount and not too deep is ideal, if that is something that can be planned- I realize that they are mobile. Thanks for all your information, your thoroughness and attention to detail has been a big help. 😀
It’s always challenging to separate good snorkeling info from marketing hype. Thanks for the site. My wife & I are experienced snorkelers and are starting to plan a trip to RA area. We’d be very interested in getting GPS coordinates for the “secret” spots you’ve found. We’re also looking at the Sulawesi area. Any tips for that region?
Hey thank you you so much for these tips. We are planning our third trip to Raja Ampat, so far have seen Eastern Gam / Mansuar Kri. Now looking for snorkelling spots in the same league as Sauwandarek / Yenbuba jetty (in terms of fish schools / big fish).
Have you been to Dayan / Batanta ? It is a long way off from Mansuar/Kri area but description on stayrajaamapat makes me really curious.
Besar Bay / Western Gam is tempting as well. How is Besar Bay in terms of big fish, compared to Sauwandarek / Yenbuba?
If you read this, would love it if you can send the secret spots as well.
Your blog is fabulous! Convinced us to visit Raja Ampat.
You recommended Misool Eco Resort, but they are full for the next three years.
Is there another similar resort you can recommend? We cannot wait to get there!
What a wonderful website and blog post! This is an extremely helpful resource for planning our first trip to Raja Ampat in October 2023!
I´ve snorkeled before, but my girlfriend is an absolute beginner. In fact, she´s just learned how to swim last year (we are in our 30s). We will improve her swimming skills before going to Indonesia, but I think it is best to focus on rather easy dive spots, without strong currents. If possible, we would like to see colourful soft corals and smaller fish. Big fish would be a nice addition, but it´s not our focus. We would like to stay in homestays or cheap resorts.
Based on this blog post, the northern side of Kri island, as well as the southern coast of Mansuar seem to be a good fit, is that correct? Do you have any other recommendations, as far as beginner snorkelling spots are concerned – perhaps a bit less touristy than Kri? Are there good beginner spots around Gam and Friwen island?
I´m also curious about the current health state of the coral reefs described in this post. It looks like this post was written in 2018? Have some of the reefs mentioned here suffered from economic changes and bleached? Has the amount of fish decreased, perhaps even increased in specific locations?
Would also would love to join the mailing list with the secret snorkeling spots, if there is one suitable for beginners.
Thank you very much in advance for helping us out!