Raja Ampat is seeing the next generation of luxury diving yachts.

Couple that with over 17,000 islands and unequalled biodiversity and Indonesia is a place you could explore for years.

Scientists are finding new marine species here every year.

The exotic culture on Bali is a don’t miss.

Resorts/Yachts/Dive Ops

Our Favorite Indonesian Resorts: Sorido Bay Resort and Misool Eco Resort

We simply have a hard time choosing between these two land based resorts and if you want to see a couple of different areas within Raja Ampat, you could spend a week at each!

Sorido Bay Resort

Sorido Bay is the brain child of Max Ammer, the pioneer of diving in Raja Ampat.  Max initially began adventuring and searching for war paraphernalia in the 90’s in Papua and eventually settled on Cape Kri where he built a small eco lodge, Kri, out of natural materials found on the island.  The lodge still houses 20 guests in large huts with basic accommodations.  With divers looking for a more upscale option, Max then built Sorido Bay with 7 air conditioned bungalows with all the comforts of luxury within a peaceful, natural setting, adjacent to the world’s best diving.

Welcome to Sorido Bay!

Overall Feel of Sorido Bay Resort (SBR)

When you first arrive at SBR you simply get the feeling of peace and serenity.  The resort sits at the edge of one of the 1500+ islands within the jewel of Raja Ampat just a 1 1/2 hour boat ride from Sorong.  You can tell the resort was built to fit into its environs as seven bungalows sit unpretentiously at the edge of the beach.  Three steps and you’re in the crystal blue waters.

The hubbub of the resort centers around the upstairs lounge and dining area which allows for cool breezes and stunning views of the water.  A small and very functional bar and sitting area as well as an extremely authentic gift shop complete the picture.

Resort Spec Highlights

  • 7 air conditioned water front bungalow
  • Remote, peaceful and inviting
  • Small hotel feel
  • World’s best dive sites within a stone’s throw
  • A lifetime of shore diving steps from your room
  • 1 1/2 hours by boat from Sorong, West Papua

Beach

SBR has a small beach area outside of the bungalows but I honestly have a hard time sitting on a beach with SO MUCH incredible blue water surrounding me….We’d rather be IN the water!

Snorkeling

Snorkeling can be done from the beach or dock or you can hop on one of the boats and within minutes find world class snorkeling.  To quote Max, there are MEGATONS of fish here and biodiversity like you’ve NEVER experienced.

Bar and Restuarant

The bar and restaurant are centrally located upstairs in a friendly, common area where everyone can gather for a drink and a meal, to share the day’s diving tales or photos or just relax in the comfy chairs and doze off for a quick nap.  Meals are served buffet style so you can sample all the incredible local foods that are offered!

Bar area of Sorido

Common dining area, very relaxing

Spa

There is currently no spa at the resort but if you head over to Bali for a post or pre stay, you can “spa” to your heart’s content for pennies a day!

Accommodations

Depending on your desired level of comfort you can stay at either Kri Eco Resort or Sorido Bay.  For us, we do prefer a few more creature comforts and for Mantagirl, well, she will admit that she really prefers air conditioning so Sorido is our preference.  The difference for a 7 night unlimited dive package is about Euro 800 between the two resorts.

bungalows on the beach

Simple and tastefully decorated

Within Sorido Bay there are two types of accommodations, Sentani or Kaimana, the difference being that the Kaimana rooms have a sitting area or as the Papuans call it, a leaving room.  The rooms are tastefully decorated with local crafts and all building was done by local Papuans.

Other Activities

Since Max has spent the last two decades living on Cape Kri, he has had the opportunity to explore by foot and by plane.  He is an adventurer at heart so if you want adventure, Max has it!  He offers hiking, kayaking, birding and anything else you want to dream up.  There is a lifetime of places to explore and Max is always willing to give it a go!

Always up for adventure!

Overall

Max has created a wonderful sanctuary in the heart of the world’s best diving and any day you can spend there diving, hiking, birding, exploring, flying or simply lying on the dock and watching the clouds go by is a day well spent!

Misool Eco Resort

Misool Eco Resort is the realization of a dream for owner Andrew and Marit Miners. Concerned about coral reef conservation in the Raja Ampat area of Indonesia, they not only created an beautiful and eco friendly resort, but also have worked tirelessly to bring sustainable conservation practices to the region. Through their efforts, a 425 square mile MPA (marine protected area) has been established. The result of these continuing efforts is a healthier coral reef ecosytem, more and varied fish life and incredible diving throughout the area.

Overall Feel of Misool Eco Resort (MER)

Misool Eco Resort is a gem within a gem. It is situated on a tiny speck of green in the midst of a great blue sea in the heart of biodiversity for the world’s coral reefs. It is worth every minute of the five hour boat ride from Sorong, West Papua to arrive at this inviting paradise.

The resort sits in a calm cove with eight, private, A-frame style overwater cottages. The large deck of your cottage boasts a deck level built in hammock and steps right down to the shallow sandy bottom where reef fish and juvenile black tip reef sharks cruise.

A large king bed dominates the cottage and an indoor/outdoor bathroom and shower complete the package.

Each cottage was built with local wood, hand milled and crafted in complete accordance with the eco system. Andrew and Marit spent two years with a small crew living under mosquito netting while they built their dream.

The open air, covered dining area is comfortable right on the water and provides a wonderful place to relax in between dives or to share a cold Bintang beer at sunset.

The resort is not large but it has everything you need for a dive vacation in the middle of nowhere. There is plenty of room to hang wet dive gear outside the all in one dive shop, room, and TV lounge as well as an honor style gift shop and one computer with internet access.

Resort Spec Highlights

  • Private island
  • Juvenile black tip reef sharks at your door
  • Remote and secluded, therefore quiet and relaxing
  • Small hotel feel
  • 8 rooms- All with Air Con
  • 5 hours by boat from Sorong, West Papua
  • Fantastic dive sites within just a few minutes of the resort

Beach

On the backside of the resort, over the hill is a white sandy beach. There is another small beach on the front side. Its size is tidally dependent. We loved lounging on our deck or in our hammock when we weren’t diving so a beach wasn’t so important.

Snorkeling

You can snorkel out in the bay in front of the resort. You start out in shallow sand and as you come to the edge of the bay, the reef begins and you can snorkel out to the drop off. Or you can jump in off the dive dock and snorkel right there. Many of the dive sites within minutes of the resort are shallow enough for some world class snorkeling.

Bars and Restaurants

There is one dining area at MER. It is under a thatched roof, open air. All meals are set up buffet style with family style seating. Food at the resort is simple yet delicious. Marit has her hand in the kitchen giving a wonderful flair. It is light and very Asian and you don’t leave a meal feeling like need to unbutton your pants. It is a very nice change from the heavy food and large portions of most dive resorts.

The restaurant doubles as the bar which serves only beer and wine. Note that in West Papua, spirits are EXTREMELY expensive. A bottle of Absolute vodka will run US$85 in Sorong, so the resort does not stock or sell hard liquor. As well, wine is very pricy at Euro40 per bottle. We recommend drinking beer or going dry!

Spa

There is currently no spa at the resort.

Accommodations

As mentioned above, there are eight, hand crafted beautiful A-frame style cottages. As of this writing, one double cottage was being completed.

There are a few other cottages built on the back side of the small island. These cottages were built for the MERs investors. Instead of giving equity to their investors, Andrew and Marit gave them time shares which works very well for them. Investors are allowed to come to the resort for a set number of weeks per year complimentary.

Overall

Overall, MER has a wonderful look and feel and is a place where you can check in and easily never leave! It is a timeless place on Earth.

Misool Eco Resort Dive Operation

Misool is a long way to come if you don’t dive. You can find nice resorts and beaches a lot closer to an airport elsewhere. But…the diving is something special and makes the long and boat ride worth every minute in an economy airline seat.

Facility

The dive facility is simple and works well. Gear is left to dry outside and inside large camera tables make is convenient to work on your rig. We two dive boats when we were there and each group gathers around a separate chalk board for the dive briefing inside in the shade.

Then we simply walk out to the waiting boat. The gear has been rigged by the dive staff. A dive operation does not need to be complicated to work well and this is a good case in point.

Boats

MERs boats are also simple. Eight divers can fit on each skiff where you have your own small seat next to a tank holder with your gear. Mask and fins go under the seat. Gear up and roll backwards from your own space. Sturdy ladders make getting out of the water easy. The boats all have twin engines which is a great safety precaution in such a remote area.

The Dive Operation

The dive staff is not large, generally consisting of two divemasters and two boat drivers but again, its a small resort and a simple set up so it works just fine.

The resort does three dives a day, two in the morning and one in the afternoon. Night dives and sunset dives to shoot mandarian fish can also easily be arranged.

Dive sites are no more than 20 minutes from the resort.

I would like to see MER spend some time scouting new dive sites. They have been very focused the last couple of years on getting the facility up and running and working very hard on getting the reefs protected. Now its time to go and expand the dive areas.  Misool area diving is extremely rich in soft coral and this is due to nutrients in the water.  Therefore, be sure to get there during the better visibility time of year.  The manta site was always clear in blue water but some of the closer dive sites vary considerably.  However, even if you experience lower visibility, there is SO much to see that you’ll be overwhelmed on every dive!

Safety and Environment

We felt the dive operation was safe and conservative which it needs to be because of the extremely remote location. My suggestion for boat operations was to equip the boat drivers with radios to be able to communicate with the resort.

As far as the environment, MER is doing CONSIDERABLE work to help protect the area. We need more dedicated ocean stewards like Marit and Andrew in this world!!

Overall

We love Misool Eco Resort. The look, the feel, the relaxation, the diving, the staff…it was truly a wonderful experience. It is a long way to go especially from the US so we would plan our trip to take in more than just Misool. We would book Misool in conjunction with either another land based resort like Sorido Bay to experience more diving in Indonesia or as a pre or post stay to a live aboard.

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