Gam Island in Raja Ampat is a land of harmonious beauty. It is renowned for spectacular seascapes around Kabui Bay that separates Gam island from Waigeo. If you venture inland across Kabui Bay, do not miss the illustrious Passage Strait, which serves as a gateway towards north Raja Ampat. You will also find historic villages, a jungle that preserves the iconic birds-of-paradise, and exclusive “blue water” mangrove bays with flourishing coral beneath. At the same time, Gam island’s coastal scenery with shallow water allows for boundless wading and swimming.
Expect to be greeted by locals in the villages who offer food and cultural delicacies as a sign of hospitality. Gam Island has also garnered a reputation for its history. The famous scientist, explorer, and ornithologist – Alfred Russel Wallace – traveled to this island in search of the crimson bird-of-paradise. His journey is chronicled in his memoir, The Malay Archipelago, and a replica campsite called “Dwarf’s House” has been erected for tourists to visit. However, if you decide to venture into the jungle, be sure to have a trained guide accompany you.
Sawinggrai village is one of the best-known locations for viewing red birds-of-paradise on Gam Island. Walk into the forest at sunrise to see these exquisite birds play from 07:00 to 08:00 am. The remarkable red bird-of-paradise is one of the species that Alfred Wallace was most anxious to collect. You can catch a rare and privileged sight of the bird’s elaborate courtship dance as the day breaks over the forest canopy. And afterward, Sawinggrai has just as much to explore underwater.
Yenbeser village is another historical sight to explore on Gam Island. It is famous for old healing rituals and a site that hosts magnificent red birds-of-paradise. Start before sunrise and hike 30 minutes under jungle canopies to reach the bird-watching platform and see the red male spread his wings like a butterfly and gracefully dance! Here, locals have also recreated explorer Alfred Wallace’s 1860 campsite from his seminal work, The Malay Archipelago, with his fascinating discoveries in Gam Island.
Beser Bay is a peculiar place to explore on Gam Island. Few know, but Beser Bay holds the most heat-adaptive corals in Raja Ampat. It provides staggering scenery for kayaking across hidden lagoons, orchid-covered karst islets, and swarms of (non-stinging) moon jellyfish. Despite being overlooked by many travelers exploring Gam Island, the bay is full of constant snorkeling surprises. Expect to meet octopuses, mantas, eagle rays, cuttlefish, reef sharks, boxfish, puffers, turtles, and the famous walking sharks and dugongs!
There are also plenty of hidden coves for you to explore on your kayak. Even if you choose not to kayak, much of what Beser Bay has to offer is viewable from your Gam island homestay or liveaboard. Right next to the bay, if you are interested in a hike, there are fascinating freshwater sinkholes to explore, and enchanting mountains with incredible birdlife. Venture out from your homestay to Beser Bay for snorkeling, scuba diving, or kayaking. After a long, active day, return to the beach, and drink from the freshest of ripe, local coconuts – the Gam Island perfection.