Misool

Misool is an exclusive dive resort and conservation center located in remote southern Raja Ampat. This private resort island of Batbitim is nestled deep in an archipelago of uninhabited islands, in the very epicenter of marine biodiversity. Just south of the Equator, this true tropical hideaway is fringed with powder white beaches and pristine coral reefs.

The eight rustic luxurious Water Cottages are located in the North Lagoon, just steps from the Dive Center and restaurant. The Water Cottages are built on stilts over the water and accommodate a maximum of 40 guests with a staff-to-guest ratio of 3 to 1. For lazy afternoons, there is a hammock built right into the veranda. The view from your veranda is framed by a traditional grass roof, offering a high degree of privacy as well as shade. Stairs lead down from to the North Lagoon, and the House Reef is just a few fin kicks away. All the villas are built entirely of reclaimed tropical hardwoods which are milled on site. The villas are designed for comfort, privacy and sustainability featuring Balinese-style open air bathrooms, air-conditioning, fresh hot and cold showers, mini-bars, in-room safes, and handcrafted furniture and fittings.

Raja Ampat's reefs are home to over 700 species of mollusks and over 1,400 species of fish. Counted among those is the newly discovered 'walking' epaulette shark, commonly seen on night dives on the House Reef. You can expect to dive a wide variety of sites during your stay at Misool. This corner of southern Raja Ampat is particularly famous for its untouched reefs festooned with wildly colorful soft corals, expansive hard coral gardens, massive gorgonian sea fans, and rich reef life. Scuba diving sites are surrounded by the Raja Ampat Shark and Manta Sanctuary which Misool helped to create. This area is so remote that the nearest port is over 100 miles away and the nearest village 14 miles by boat.

Your stay at Misool directly supports numerous conservation initiatives and provides sustainable employment opportunities for the local people, entirely decoupled from the extraction of marine resources. The resort also offers several excursions designed to bring you closer to Raja Ampat's flora, fauna, and people.

A representative from Misool will meet you at the Sorong Airport and then bring you to the harbor and onto a private speedboat, scheduled to depart at 9:00am. It’s recommended that all guests transit through Jakarta, arriving the day before the start of your stay at Misool. From Jakarta, plan to fly with Garuda Indonesia Airlines on the overnight flight to Sorong. Transit through Bali is also possible, though the flights are less convenient. Contact us for current flight details/bookings. The speedboat transfer from Sorong to Batbitim Island is a scenic 4-5 hour journey depending on sea conditions.

Diving!

Misool’s House Reef is a shore dive, easily accessed at any time from either the end of the jetty, the Dive Centre, or the steps leading down from your Water Cottage accommodation. On a rising tide, jump off the end of the jetty and enjoy an easy drift North through the channel, which is exposed to variable current. Schooling horse-eyed jacks congregate under the pier, joined by massive schools of fusiliers and shoals of passing anchovies. Several very large groupers make their home in the depths under the jetty, and they often appear to inspect visitors to their reef. We regularly see large black tip reef sharks patrolling the deeper areas, as well as the occasional grey reef shark.

As you drift north through the channel, the topography shifts from a gentle slope to steep wall, festooned with colorful soft corals, huge gorgonian sea fans, and sea squirts and tunicates in a multitude of sizes and shapes. Careful inspection of the many rocky outcroppings, coral bommies, and overhangs is always rewarded with a treasure. A close look at Muricella and Annella sea fans often reveals the elusive Bargibanti and Denise pygmy seahorses. Large and colorful crinoids often cling to the fans as well, hosting a menagerie of color-coordinated cling fish, crinoid shrimp, and arrowhead crabs.

If you time your dive just right, you'll have a good chance of seeing the stunning Mandarin Fish, who make their appearance just before sunset. A little patience will be rewarded with a display of their wildly psychedelic courtship ritual. They are joined by the spectacular displays of several species of Flasher Wrasse. We also regularly spot the newly-discovered 'walking' Epaulette Shark in the shallows, scooting along with their pectoral fins and hunting for their next meal.

You'll also find innumerable species of nudibranchs and flatworms. These range from the gaily colored black and orange spotted Nembrotha to the huge white Ardeadoris egretta, edged with a lemon yellow frill. It's not unusual to spot up to 10 different species of nudibranchs and flatworms on a single dive. The reef wall is also home to an unrivalled variety of soft corals, hard corals, and sponges, in all colors of the spectrum. We've even got fluorescent hard corals!

The House Reef is particularly well suited to photographers and those who enjoy observing unusual animal behavior. Inspect holes in the sandy substrate and you may find the unlikely duo of goby and shrimp. These two share a burrow: the goby keeps a look out on behalf of himself and the blind shrimp, alerting it to danger with a wiggle of its tail. In exchange, the shrimp keeps the burrow tidy. Stop to watch it bulldoze the sand and pebbles away from the burrow with its claws. We also regularly see octopus hunting or mating in the shallows, and the occasional blue-ringed octopus flashing its vibrant spots in warning. If you haven't seen it already, we recommend the 'Shallow Seas' episode of the BBC series 'Life.' Peter Schoons and his team spent 6 weeks filming on our House Reef to capture the sequence of anemone fish tending their brood!

Local Reefs: variety and quality of live-aboard diving combined with all the comforts of a private island resort.

We have explored over 60 dive-sites within a 1-hour radius of the resort, and there are many more waiting to be explored. We are pleased to offer over 25 world-class dive sites within a 15-minute radius of the resort, including Fiabacet, Boo, Yilliet, Wobbegong City, and Magic Mountain.

The 3D underwater footage of the recent IMAX film 'Journey to the South Pacific' was filmed on Misool Eco Resort's incredible dive sites. You can expect to dive a diverse selection of sites, including a busy manta cleaning station, coral covered walls, reef flats, swim throughs, gentle sea mounts, drift dives, vast hard-coral gardens, placid lagoons, and current-raked pinnacles. Visibility is variable but generally 25+ meters, with temperatures around 26-28 degrees Celsius (78-82 degrees Fahrenheit).

All of our dive sites are protected by our own 300,00 acre/1,220 sq km Misool Marine Reserve. That means that an area twice the of Singapore is a dedicated conservation area, and free from all fishing.

Here are just a few of our most famous sites:

Nudi Rock: a small island in the Fiabacet chain, which looks an awful lot like a nudibranch from a distance. Just a quick 5-minute speed boat ride from the jetty, this site is a must for critter enthusiasts and macro photographers. True to its name, you'll find a wide range of flamboyant nudibranchs lurking among the abundant soft corals. The sea fans are well populated with pygmy seahorses and cowries. Be sure to inspect the abundant crinoids for their colour-coordinated arrowhead shrimp and cling fish. When currents allow, this site is also popular for its pinnacles crowded with larger pelagics like Barracuda, Big Eyed Travelly, and the odd mature Grey Reef Shark. The sloping shallows of Nudi Rock are stunning for wide angle shots with exquisite colours and hard coral gardens.

Magic Mountain: This sea mount is located about 20 minutes from the resort, and is a busy Manta ray cleaning station. The submerged pinnacle reaches up to about 7 meters, and you have a very good chance of seeing not one by TWO species of manta rays here - both the giant Oceanic birostris as well as the smaller reef manta, alfredi. Magic Mountain is also a nursery for White Tip Reef Sharks and a love nest for Napoleon Wrasse. Because this site is completely exposed to oceanic currents, you can expect to see large schools of pelagics in the blue.  Learn more about the Misool Manta Project here.

Yillet: The huge island of Yillet stretches east to west about 15 minutes north of our resort island. This island used to be home to an itinerant shark finning camp, and we are pleased by the stunning resurgence of life on its surrounding reefs, including sharks. One of Yillet's tiny satellite islands is particularly rich and topographically weird. The tiny island has been undercut by untold millenia of wave action, forming an umbrella over a sloping underwater plateau with numerous spooky overhangs and cavelets. Diving with a torch is highly recommended for this site - you'll want to illuminate the dark corners of this site to see all the critters, as well as the wild colors. Barramundi cod and Hawksbill Turtles frequent this site. We also suggest you keep a sharp eye on the blue, as huge schools of barracuda hover in formation.

Boo Windows: One of our most famous dive sites, named for its unique topography. The site is a small island about 15 minutes from the resort, with 2 swim-through 'windows' carved into it. The South West face of this site is quite steep and exposed to current, so you are likely to see patrolling sharks as well as the elusive Wobbegong Shark - be sure to look under the massive table corals! When the currents are right, we'll move off towards a large pinnacle in the blue. The pinnacle is often surrounded by pulsating schools of fusiliers and gangs of plate-sized Batfish. Heading back towards the Windows, notice how the sunlight filters through - it's like nothing else on earth! We'll follow the plateau of hard plate corals and look for Sweetlips hiding underneath. Be sure to investigate the huge Barrel Sponges - their crevices often conceal Hairy Squat Lobsters.

Snorkeling!

The pristine state of the sea surrounding our resort island means that the reefs grow right up to the surface of the water, making them perfect for snorkelers as well as divers. The House Reef is particularly recommended for snorkelers, with frequent sightings of schooling horse-eyed jacks, gentle green turtles, hunting octopus, and huge schools of bumphead parrotfish. There is also a good chance of spotting the newly discovered 'walking' Epaulette Shark - these incredible creatures are nocturnal predators and hunt in the shallow hard coral gardens on the House Reef. Toodling around inside the protected North Lagoon is also fantastic, and we often see upwards of 15 baby black tip reef sharks in the shallows. Snorkelers are encouraged to prebook a snorkel package. This will ensure you a space on one of our boats if you'd like to visit local reefs. Unguided snorkeling on the House Reef is of course always free.

Spa!

The massage and beauty treatments feature Misool's signature range of natural products, most of which we create fresh each morning in our own kitchen. We use only food-grade ingredients, and choose organic products whenever possible. You’ll find scrubs hand-blended from local ingredients such as Indonesian kemiri nuts and our own coconuts, face toner derived from freshly pressed cucumber, body wraps using our home-grown aloe plants and freshly harvested banana leaves, aromatherapy using fragrant hand-pressed coconut oil, and scrubs using coffee from the highlands of Papua. Our essential oils are of the highest quality. Enjoy our massage and beauty treatments in the privacy of your own room or at The Lookout.

There’s so much to do!

Baby Turtle Release

Misool Foundation's Rangers guard local beaches which are nesting sites for endangered Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles. The Rangers watch over the nests, ensuring they are not scavenged by hungry monitor lizards. If a nest hatches during the day, Rangers carefully gather up the hatchlings and keep them safe until after dark, when most of their predators are sleeping. The most perilous time of a turtle's life occurs just after hatching. With your help, we can give the turtles a little boost and increase their chances of survival.

Romantic Beach Castaway Experience

We’ll drop you off on one of our private beaches for an afternoon of romance. Just you and your sweetie on a hidden beach with only the sea, sky and sand for company. We highly recommend a lazy afternoon with fresh tropical fruits and sparkling wine.

Village Visit

Tour a traditional Papuan village, about 1 hour northwest of our resort island. You will be escorted by one of our staff who come from this small village, which is built mostly on stilts over the sea.

Much of everyday life here takes place outside - you can expect to see lots of friendly and curious faces, betel nuts drying on racks, dug-out canoes being built, nets being repaired, goats, kittens, and children posing for photos. Visit the school, have a look at the mosque, and appreciate how local people live.

Indonesian Cooking Class

Allow our chefs to take you on a culinary tour of Indonesia. You'll learn how to use fresh ingredients like turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, pandan leaf, and fresh pressed coconut oil to create a few Indonesian classics such as Sumatran Rendang Curry, Balinese Lemongrass Chilli Sauce, and Coconut Pandan Crepes. 

SUP experience

Standup Paddle Boarding is a great way to experience Raja Ampat's spectacular ecosystem from a new perspective.  With the help of Polarized sunglasses, you'll be able to see the reef below as well as the jungle above.  We'll shuttle you to a nearby area of lagoons, with dramatic karst limestone formations carpeted with carnivorous pitcher plants and wild orchids. If you're a newbie, we recommend taking an SUP for a spin in the lagoon before we set out for a longer tour. 

Mangrove Experience

Mangroves are a unique ecosystem at the intersection of land and sea, providing important habitat for juvenile sharks, baby sharks, and a host of fascinating plants. We’ll travel north-east by speedboat for about 20 minutes to a nearby island called Sapenipnu, where we’ll bring the boat right into the shallow mangroves. Look out for turtles in the shallows, then snorkel amongst the roots of the mangrove trees. Be sure to look out for marbled stingrays.

A Day with the Rangers

Thanks to the ongoing vigilance of Misool Foundation's local Ranger Patrol, biomass has increased on our reefs by 250% over six years. Spend an afternoon getting to know the team responsible for this incredible change in our ecosystem. You'll visit their Ranger Stations, climb to a spectacular viewpoint, participate in beach clean-ups, check on turtle nests, and tour the 300,000 acre Misool Marine Reserve.

All proceeds from this tour are donated to our registered Indonesian charity, Misool Foundation.

Lagoon Experience

Located about 30 minutes from the resort are the spectacular Wayil Batan islands. These craggy islets of karst fracture off from the large islands, creating a wild labyrinth of turquoise lagoons dotted with small islands. The water is scattered with tiny mushroom-shaped outcroppings draped in pitcher-plants and wild orchids. We'll weave between the islands, stopping to swim in a turquoise blue lagoon.  We then make our way onwards to stop for a picnic on a deserted beach before snorkeling on the nearby reefs. On our way home, look out for pods of dolphins and frigate birds hunting the baitballs at the surface.

Sorong Market Experience

If you have a few hours to spare in Sorong before departing, make time to visit a local market. Apart from being a centre of commerce, the market offers a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in urban Papua. Your guide will lead you straight into the chaos of the market - be prepared for a visual and olfactory assault. You'll see local produce like bread fruit, turmeric root, and sago. Your presence in the market will not go unnoticed, so expect plenty of attention and friendly questions. Be sure to bring a camera - the best souvenirs from this market are photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Misool Foundation runs an array of marine conservation projects across Indonesia. Nobody does conservation like Misool!

Misool Marine Reserve

Rampant shark finning and unchecked destructive fishing were destroying some of the most important and bio-diverse reefs on earth. In 2005, Misool and the local community reached an agreement to lease the island of Batbitim, which would become the site of the resort.  Misool also leased a large area of sea surrounding the resort island.  This contract evicted the itinerant shark-finners the area. 

Misool Foundation has since expanded and now protects a 300,000 acres/1220 sq km Marine Reserve at the heart of global marine biodiversity.  This is nearly twice the size of Singapore.  The Reserve is comprised of 2 distinct No-Take Zones and a linking restricted-gear blue water corridor. 

The Marine Reserve is patrolled by a team of local Rangers, with backup from Marine Police.  The Rangers move between the base camp and Ranger Stations on Yellit, Kalig, and Daram.  The Rangers maintain constant vigilance over the Marine Reserve with physical patrols, radar, and drone surveillance. Misool Foundation and the Ranger Patrol do not receive any support from the Raja Ampat government or pin tag system.

Misool Community Education

Misool Foundation built a kindergarten (called Taman Kanak-kanak Baseftin Al-Ma'arif in Indonesian) in the village of Fafanlap, about 75 minutes from the resort island by speedboat.  In January 2017, renovations were completed and the school welcomed a new class of 39 students and 3 teachers.

The Foundation also sponsors several primary school teachers in local villages, as well as a dedicated English teacher.  Misool guests can help support this important project by bringing some simple English-language books to donate to local schools. 

Misool Manta Project

Established in 2011, The Misool Manta Projects’ key objectives are to study, educate, inspire and protect. The Misool Manta Project teaches our guests, engages local community members, and conducts critical research on both Oceanic mantas (Manta birostris) and Reef mantas (Manta alfredi). The Project provides robust population data to the government, NGO’s, communities and conservationists.  This data has been leveraged to push the protection of mantas and ensure the long-term survival of these charismatic megafauna as well as their habitat. Guests can help support this project by contributing Manta ID photos to our database.  We'll let you know exactly what we need. 

Misool Community Recycling Project

Called Bank Sampah in Indonesian, the Misool Community Recycling Project incentivizes small communities to properly dispose of waste.  Misool Foundation purchases 36 types of rubbish directly from underserved coastal communities.  The waste materials are collected and then shipped back to mainland, where the goods are sorted, cleaned, chipped, and packed for recycling.  The Misool Community Recycling Project collected 700 tons of rubbish last year - that's 700 tons of rubbish you won't see on your dives around Misool.

 

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