Papua Paradise Eco Resort

Situated about 45 minutes (in good weather) by speedboat from the rather dusty, industrial port town of Sorong, Papua Paradise Eco Resort is a convenient gateway to the best known sights of Indonesia's spectacular Raja Ampat Regency: Fam, Cape Kri, Manta Sandy, Arborek Jetty, etc. It’s also relatively close to Sorong compared to Misool, another fantastic resort we would later stay at. Not sure which to choose? Read this post. 

In February 2018, direct flight connections to Raja Ampat were scarce and our flight from Makassar, Sulawesi (where we’d spent the night)  to Sorong departed at 5am so we appreciated the relative proximity of Papua Paradise. Our decision was further validated because we then had to spend about three hours on arrival hanging around at a local hotel in Sorong, awaiting our speedboat transfer. Was the long journey worth it? Read on to find out!

As soon as the resort's jetty came into view, we heard the sound of drums and singing. The entire resort's staff were standing there, waiting to welcome us, including the manager, Johann. Upon disembarking, we all received a delicious cold drink, a refreshing wet towel and a short briefing about mealtimes, as well as how to book excursions. We were then shown to our rooms and our bags came by wheelbarrow shortly thereafter. 

Inside our Papuan-themed bungalow was a romantic four-poster bed with mosquito netting, turned down beautifully each night by helpful, friendly staff. A comfortable cushioned lounge seat was tucked into a nook on one side, perfect for afternoon siestas. There was also a generous deck with sun loungers and more seating – ideal for drying wet clothing, reading and generally just lying around watching colourful marine life frolic as the sun slipped below the horizon.

The ensuite bathroom is open-air so expect plenty of birdsong. We were woken each morning to the plaintive calls of wagtails or the quacking of shore ducks and just once, to the squawking of handsome red-crested palm cockatoos. The hot water was slightly temperamental – but we were miles from civilisation so I wasn’t complaining!  There was also complimentary laundry service – very handy if you pack light.

A resplendent palm cockatoo

The view from our west-facing Superior Bungalow was spectacular, looking out onto teeming coral reef. Behind it was a seagrass meadow, where we saw dugong on two separate occasions. These rare mammals are elusive and extremely shy, so keep very quiet if you see one – your footsteps on the boardwalk above them are enough to scare them off.

At the restaurant, meals were served by kind, friendly waitstaff who never forgot our drink orders after day 1 (the options being iced water or iced tea with sugar or without). They also always made sure vegetarians had food options – usually fried tempeh or corn fritters (and once during our week's stay, an eggplant parmigiana) – in addition to whatever else was on the big buffet table. Desserts were fabulous – chocolate mousse, lemon cake, plenty of fresh tropical fruit including rambutans, purple dragon fruit and the curious snake fruit. There was also a few alcoholic beverages including a crisp white house wine, which we enjoyed on our final night.

Buah ular or snake fruit

Doughnuts were a morning tea favourite

Chocolate birthday cake

The Dive Experience

One of the best things about Papua Paradise was their policy of limited group sizes to four (for most dive excursions). This meant excellent personal attention from the dive guide and crew, as well as the flexibility to stay as long (or as short) as you wanted at any site, as most of the boats had just our group on board. During our stay, we only experienced one trip – to the picturesque islets of Fam – where there were twelve guests on the boat. However, our group of four was always looked after our our excellent guide, Ezra, who knew not just the common names of many marine species but their scientific names too!

On every excursion, the crew were very friendly, helpful and there were always dry towels, fresh drinking water, tea, coffee and snacks (chocolate doughnuts nearly every time!) aboard every boat, no matter the duration of the journey.  On full day trips, lunch was picnic style with three options: sandwiches (rolls), rice or noodles (your choice, made the evening before). All were very yummy and served in generous portions, plus there was always fresh fruit. 

Because we were located close to local villages, there were plenty of opportunities to interact with local kids and their families which was a really nice way to spend surface intervals.

Fam photo bomb

The diving itself was absolutely FANTASTIC. 

Another major benefit offered by Papua Paradise is that it is close to a manta ray cleaning station (off Wai Island) so you don’t have to jostle with divers from liveaboards and other resorts in Raja Ampat for a good vantage point. In any case, all the region's major points of interest are no more than 2 hours away by speedboat. For our favourite dive sites on this trip, read this post.

Other Activities

So if you don't scuba dive, is Papua Paradise worth the trip?  Well, most visitors to Raja Ampat want to visit the scenic lookout at Fam, which is within easy reach of the resort.

While I didn't undertake any snorkelling excursions, I'm sure there would have been excellent sites due to the generally fantastic condition of Raja Ampat's marine environment. We did snorkel the  house reef at Papua and can attest that that is very rich in life - we saw cuttlefish, Halmehera walking shark and mantis shrimp.

There were also big plastic orange kayaks so you could paddle.

One other very unique activity you could undertake was bird-watching - specifically - watching the singularly beautiful male Wilson's bird of paradise. This had to be organised specially because it involves a very early morning departure, then hiking along some rugged trails, to reach a hide in the rainforest which faces a clearing. Then you sit and wait. With luck, the male Wilson's bird of paradise will show up and make a flamboyant display of his feathers,  hoping to attract a partner.

Hiking in the dark to the hide.

The view from the hide

The fabulous male Wilson's bird of paradise