South of Raja Ampat, in the heart of the Coral Triangle, outlined by rare white beaches and monstrous reefs, Misool is a magical island chain where nature is foregrounded. Thanks to local rangers that patrol and guard this vastly remote region of Raja Ampat, the beauty of life can be found intact across Misool’s many karst islets. Here, in the area that is triple the size of Singapore, biodiversity is improving rather than declining. The local conservation center made fishing illegal, so baby sharks, massive manta rays, and even foraging sea turtles find their sanctuary here. Misool has also been known to harbor whales on occasion.
Despite being the second largest of the Four Kings in Raja Ampat, the more remote Misool Island is sparsely populated by a mix of tribes, with age-old traditions unique to each tribe. Apart from the miraculous scenes of nature, you can also find numerous cultural sites containing petroglyphs on the walls of caves — some dating back 5,000 years! If you are interested in diving deeper into the native culture and wish to prepare yourself before visiting, the local inhabitants speak the Biga and Matbat languages.
When referring to Misool, one doesn’t usually speak about the grand Misool Island only. For experienced Raja Ampat explorers, the Misool region also stands for a myriad of fascinating islands, including Farondi, Fiabacet, Yapap, Balbulol, Wayil, Olobi, as well as notable sights such as Jellyfish Lake, Harfat Jaya peak, and the spectacular Love Lake. To summarize, the Misool region is so enormous that it stands apart as an extraordinary standalone destination in Raja Ampat. Therefore, most Yacht Holiday itineraries mentioning South Raja Ampat, refer to cruising across and diving in Misool.
Misool for divers
Diving in Misool is an epitome of Raja Ampat’s marine wonderland. There are hundreds and hundreds of diving locations in the Misool region that cater to various skills of divers. For the less experienced divers, there is the House Reef, which is a shore dive from Misool Island. You can access this dive by directly jumping off the end of a jetty and allowing yourself to float along as the currents take you on a natural tour of Misool’s submarine world. Here you will find horse-eyed jacks, large schools of fusiliers, and shoals of anchovies. There are also large groupers that make their home here, and you may even see the occasional grey reef shark.
The more experienced divers will want to continue north along the channel that borders Misool Island, where diving becomes even more jaw-dropping. There are steep walls with colorful soft coral and nudibranchs. If you time your dive to be just before sunset, the awe-inspiring Mandarin Fish may appear. Keep an eye out for several spectacular Flasher Wrasse species and the recently discovered “walking” Epaulette shark. This shark scoots along the bottom of the ocean with its pectoral fins as it lurks in wait for its next meal. Undoubtedly, Misool in Raja Ampat is the perfect location for underwater photography as multiple dive sites are home to hard fluorescent corals.
Misool dive sites
Some of the more popular dive sites around Misool Island include Nudi Rock, Magic Mountain, Yillet, and Boo Windows. Journey to Misool and prepare for an unforgettable tour of rare marine life, and some of the world’s most unique marine topography. The private Misool Marine Reserve protects all of the dive sites; therefore, whichever dive site you choose, it is sure to be an unfiltered experience. When talking about the best diving in Misool, we need to mention several regions that are so vast that they require a separate introduction – Fiabacet, Jef Pele, and Farondi islands.
In the heart of Misool’s ‘No-Take-Zone,’ (twice as big as Singapore!), lies Fiabacet Island, which houses three dive sites, often grouped as one large eastern Misool dive site. The visibility underwater is about 25 meters, and the maximum depth of the dive is 40 meters. With steep bommies and massive reef cliffs, there is plenty of soft and hard coral to explore. If you enjoy hunting for critters such as seahorses, pipefish, and nudibranch, then this is your place!
Macro photographers have a field day in Fiabacet. Fiabacet is a night diving kingdom; huge sea slugs, crocodile fish, scorpionfish, camouflaged crabs, punching shrimps, and walking sharks create an underwater circus! Stay safe as you enjoy nature’s free entertainment. While the northern shore of Fiabacet is well protected from adverse weather, promising most sheltered snorkeling from the beach in Misool.
Farondi is a cluster of luscious islands with deserted beaches presenting impressive views above the sea, and spectacular drop-offs beneath it. Located around twelve nautical miles east of Misool island, Farondi offers some of the most stunning diving in Raja Ampat. The area is filled with caves and overhangs to explore; if you dive, this is gold. On the southern side of Farondi is a wall dive called “Goa Besar.” This wall boasts a 20-meter-long tunnel inhabited by midnight snapper, Indonesian sweetlips, and accented with soft coral and sponges.
On the southwest tip of Farondi lies “Verena’s Garden.” This wall dive is idyllic for both sight-seeing and macro photography. Large humphead parrotfish are said to roam this area, and underwater photographers seek to snap a shot of the beautiful pairing of butterflyfish and angelfish. Most notably, about five to twelve meters down the wall, there is a cavern that travels into the heart of Farondi. There are bush corals, whip corals, crustaceans, nudibranchs, and even some mimic octopuses! However, if diving Misool is not your forte, the powder-white beach of Farondi is sheltered by a backdrop of trees, making it an idyllic place for a barbecue.
Lying at the crossroads of the Seram and Banda Sea, the reefs around the colossal peaks of Jef Pele Island are the ultimate frontier of the Misool diving paradise. The northwest tip of the island is a snorkeling delight, with a ridge that protrudes from the dramatic cliff overhanging the surface. It is possible to kayak inside the vast lagoon and paddle across coves stuffed with mantas, hammerhead sharks, sperm whales, and sea snakes. Much of the Jef Pele dive site is unique to Misool and is yet to be discovered. So if you want to make history diving in most southern parts of the Misool region, be sure to document your area’s exploration.
Misool for non-divers
It is unlikely that you will ever get bored with snorkeling or diving in Misool. But if you do, the whole other world awaits above its crystal clear waters. Take a stand up paddleboard or kayak around the thousands of rock formations, painted with wild orchids and hidden lagoons with stingless jellyfish. Hike breathtaking viewpoints, explore ancient caves, and learn about fascinating traditions of local tribes.
A swim through Timolol’s mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most engaging activities. This partially submerged cave in Misool Island allows travelers to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites. The more adventurous can paddle through the dark waters to the other mouth of the Timolol cave. Witness skull cairns in sea-cave cemeteries and prehistoric ‘petroglyph’ cave paintings, estimated to be anything between 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures, human palms, fish, plants, and vessels.
For non-divers, we have curated our selection of other must-visit places in Misool. These include Harfat Jaya summit, the Love Lake, sensational Yapap lagoon, the Jellyfish Lake, and the WOW sights across Wayil islands, Olobi islands, Balbulol islands, and Daram island. Words cannot describe the scenic beauty you will come across – everyone has to experience Misool at least once in their lifetime.