The largest of the Four Kings, Waigeo island, screams untamed wilderness. Orchid-draped cloud forests cap the interior’s heights, while large rivers wind through the lowlands, nurturing waterfalls and lakes. Waigeo may also be the most versatile of all the islands in Raja Ampat, and many use it as a launching point to start their adventures. Many home-stays and villas located right along the beaches of Waigeo island afford visitors an incredibly scenic and relaxing place to rest and recuperate before venturing into and across the ocean, or inland to see the villages and rainforest.
If you prioritize exploring the ocean, you will find excellent snorkeling from the beaches near Wasai (Raja Ampat’s capital city); and even better snorkeling from the home-stays in West Waigeo. West Waigeo’s islands are uninhabited, so you are unlikely to run into other day travelers. All home stays on the island (except for those in West Waigeo) provide onsite dive centers, from which you can begin your scuba diving adventures across the most bio-diverse reefs in the world. Snorkel or dive to see nudibranch species, pygmy seahorses, unparalleled coral reefs, sea dragons, green sea turtles, Indian Lionfish, and much more.
On the other hand, if you decide to travel inland, you will not be disappointed. Scooters are available for rent and allow you to move around the island independently and with ease. There are several villages and frequent festivals that enable you to experience the unique Papuan cultures first-hand. Moreover, this island holds unbelievable, fully-supported trekking routes through the jungle. You will fall asleep to the nocturnal serenade of the Waigeo jungle, lit by bioluminescent mushrooms that emit green light – if you are brave enough to venture into the deep at night!
Waigeo’s tropical jungles are rich in birdlife; it is one of only two places in the whole world where you can see the iconic Wilson’s Bird of Paradise (the other is at Batanta). There are unique mammals like the Waigeo Cuscus, ancient cultural sites, over 300 species of birds, and a host of fascinating insects and reptiles. Orchid-draped cloud forests cap the interior’s heights, and large rivers wind through the lowlands. The indigenous Maya communities that live around Mayalibit Bay have developed a network of hiking lodges and trekking trails that provide access to the interior’s wonders, including the famed Kali Biru – blue river.
An enchanted Mayalibit Bay separates Waigeo island into two parts – the main Waigeo with its capital Waisai and the uncharted wilderness of the West Waigeo. A journey across vast Mayalibit Bay in between both Waigeo passes through enchanting mountain peaks and wild, impenetrable rainforest. The bay’s dark waters are not for the faint-hearted, sheltering white dolphins alongside saltwater crocodiles. Indigenous Maya communities that live on Mayalibit’s shores still hold all the keys to Waigeo’s many unexplored wonders.
If you visit Mayalibit Bay, you will have the opportunity to experience the ancient culture of Waigeo island’s original inhabitants and traditional owners. Trek through the jungle of Mayalibit Bay and witness the many rare birds, animals, and plants that are endemic to Waigeo. Venture seaward and swim in the abundant sea life that calls Mayalibit Bay its home: alien-like shrimp, long-jawed mackerel, and gigantic sea cucumbers. Snorkeling is only possible under the strict guidance of your tour guide. There are over 200 species of fish that roam Mayalibit Bay’s waters, apart from saltwater crocodiles. This part of Waigeo Island can rock your boat, literally.
If you are crazy enough and have made it to West Waigeo from Mayalibit Bay, then another wonderland awaits at the very western part of the Waigeo island. Alyui Bay is an extensive, mangrove-lined inlet in West Waigeo, displaying a rugged coastline filled with pocket bays and coves – ideal for private boat and kayak tours. But be warned, enormous saltwater crocodiles live at the deepest end of the bay, while hornbills and cockatoos sail overhead like tropical pterodactyls.
Alyui Bay is home to a large pearl farm where you can get a glimpse into the skill, time, and energy it takes to cultivate these natural miracles. Each pearl grows in the bay for four years before being harvested! The nearby jetty offers an opportunity to spot magnificent micro-critters such as ghost pipefish, blue ring octopus, and bobtail squid. Alyui Bay is a rare sight because it is so much more than the sum of its parts.
This most remote bay of Waigeo is a unique blend of the right geology, biogeography, nutrient-rich waters, tidal currents, and sunlight. All of these features combine to form a structural-organizational reef that is unlike any other. There are enough glowing colors, fauna, animals, and corals for a lifetime of diving and snorkeling without boredom in Alyui Bay. The diversity is so rich that it rewards every snorkeler and diver with their own unique experience of the infinite amount of stimulants the bay has to offer. The untapped wilderness of Waigeo Island both above and underwater is indeed superlative.