Heaven on Earth
Sunsets at Raja Ampat are so beautiful that it almost seems you are looking through the gates of heaven.
Travelling to me is a form of self-expression. It is highly personal and allows me to extract the feelings and thoughts that may be hidden deep in my soul. Travelling also means to me running towards something, an experience that helps me grow, recharge and dream. After travelling to so many places, so many islands, cities and resorts in the last two years, I found paradise in Papua, at Raja Ampat, an area of natural wonder that may be heaven on earth. It is peaceful and tranquil, the answer to the hustle and bustle of the world. I arrived at the airport in Sorong, in West Papua, on an early morning flight from Manado, North Sulawesi, and headed to the port for the two-hour boat ride to paradise. I was staying at Papua Paradise Eco Resort, located on Birie Island, off the northeast coast of Batanta, one of the four main islands in Raja Ampat. This is not just a tropical island surrounded by pristine reefs and unspoilt flora; it’s a slice of heaven for divers and non-divers like me, and of course for honeymooners and nature and adventure lovers. Papua Paradise offers 16 bungalows, all constructed with an unparalleled attention to detail, from the rustic bathrooms to the eco-friendly energy and water system. The resort, managed by Justin and Cheryl Duerden, was designed to be environmentally friendly. All bungalows were built using natural materials, with timber sourced only from strictly controlled designated forests, under contract with local landowners, and not a single tree was cut down. The resort also uses eco-friendly soaps and cleaning products, and it purchases food and supplies from local vendors. Not only is Papua Paradise environmentally responsible, but it’s also socially responsible. It employs local Papuans and the bungalows and resort buildings feature natural materials sourced locally. All this simplicity comes together to create sophisticated bungalows that offer glorious island views, from sunsets on the terrace watching the baby sharks and stingrays swimming around the bungalows. Papua Paradise is not just for divers. If you are a snorkeler like me, you can still join the friendly staff of Papua Paradise to explore the coral reefs and underwater life, including the majestic manta rays. I slipped into the water and floated above majestic manta rays as they somersaulted, glided and pivoted through the light below. In a truly thrilling experience, three big manta rays swam beside me. After lunch on the jetty, I got back in the water for more snorkelling, drinking in the colourful fish and vibrant coral. Papua Paradise offers a variety of island excursions including trips to Fam Islands. These islands are the very definition of paradise, white limestone cliffs plunging into the sea and ultramarine lagoons nestled next to monumental pinnacles and untouched beaches. For bird lovers, Papua Paradise offers bird watching expeditions. Visit a neighbouring village at sunset and get ready to spot hornbills and other bird species. Savour the local dishes prepared by the chefs at Papua Paradise restaurant, accompanied by the rhythms of local musicians. The night skies here are brilliantly lit by the moon and stars, a cool sea breeze lulling the senses. I forgot the last time I could count the stars. It is a rare opportunity to escape the busy world and just disappear for a spell. That is exactly what you get at Papua Paradise, an escape to paradise. Would you get on a plane and fly for 20 hours to reach Papua Paradise? If your answer is no, then you will probably never experience heaven on earth. Indeed, people come from all over the world to Papua Paradise to experience the beauty of nature and the peace and tranquillity of Raja Ampat. This is a place you can hear the sound of the ocean, swim with manta rays, watch hornbills and drink in spectacular sunsets. Papua Paradise is a place you must visit before you die.
‘The night skies here are brilliantly lit by the moon and stars, a cool sea breeze lulling the senses. I forgot the last time I could count the stars. It is a rare opportunity to escape the busy world and just disappear for a spell. That is exactly what you get at Papua Paradise, an es
cape to paradise.’