Papua Paradise vs Misool

Are you trying decide between the two most upmarket resorts in Raja Ampat? Now that I’ve been to both Papua Paradise and Misool, here are some of my observations on the main features that distinguish the two: 


Papua Paradise was approximately 2 hours* from Sorong by boat in a region known as “North Raja Ampat”. 

Misool is around 4 hours* from Sorong by boat and in the region known as “South Raja Ampat”. 

*This is based on our experience travelling in good weather conditions! 

The ocean is a fickle beast so if you’re prone to seasickness, this might be a key consideration.

Papua Paradise is also the place to stay if you want to visit Fam, Waigeo and the Three Jetties (Arborek, Yenbuba and Sawan Darek).  These are too far away from Misool. The upside of staying at Misool however, is that it has exclusive access to excellent dive sites, most which are no more than 20 minutes from the resort.

The experiences

Papua Paradise's proximity to the West Papuan mainland meant that guests had the opportunity to see spectacular birds of paradise and elusive dugongs. 

Being close to coastal villages also allowed us to have some fun, memorable interactions with local kids. Unfortunately, with humans comes rubbish - we spent a great deal of time picking up litter around the resort and well beyond it.

When you weren't out on a full day excursion, there was great snorkelling to be had on the house reefs and some big plastic kayaks that you could use to explore at your leisure. Wobbegongs were all over the place and we spotted the Halmahera walking shark under the restaurant once. 

Misool's magic lies in its isolation - its dive sites are pristine, the healthy  colourful reefs pulsating with life, and guests don't share them with anyone else. The soft coral and Gorgonian sea fans are in fabulous shape, which means a lot of teeny, tiny animals to look at including all three known species of pygmy seahorse and so many different nudibranchs. There are masses of fish thanks to the region being a no-take zone. Baby sharks, turtles (green and hawksbill) and bumphead parrotfish are also found in abundance at the resort and the dive sites around it.

The resort goes as far as coordinating with visiting liveaboards to ensure that they keep their passengers out of the water when guests are at a site. Misool is also close to an otherworldly lake filled with stingless jellyfish.

In your downtime, the Misool lagoon and house reefs offered amazing snorkelling, with a healthy number of resident green turtles, a whip tail stingray and a whole lot of fish. A small fleet of kayaks and stand up paddle boards were also available for use throughout your stay. 

A note on manta rays

If you love mantas, this is worth keeping in mind: we travelled to both resorts in February, 12 months apart.  At Papua Paradise, we saw manta rays (both reef and oceanic) on almost every dive over a total of 20+ dives. At Misool, we saw one reef manta in 20 dives. Mantas reportedly favour North Raja Ampat from December through to April, then head back south in the middle of the year.

The accommodation and dive centre setup

Papua Paradise offered Maldives-style over-water villas with furnished decks facing the sunset. Being west-facing, the room really heated up in the late afternoon - wonderful for drying wet clothing or dive gear. There was no air-conditioning but a ceiling fan above the bed kept temperatures pleasant. A lovely seating nook inside your villa was ideal for reading and editing photos, while there were also a pair of comfortable lounge chairs outside on the verandah. 

Deluxe Room © Papua Paradise

Misool had a variety of luxe villas (with air-con!) – some over water, others set a bit further back on the beach. There were a cluster of villas near the restaurant, dive centre and main lounge area (known as "The Hive") as well as a several set on South Beach - including the Villa Santai, where we stayed - which was the more isolated side of the island. From here, you had to be prepared to walk up a steep rise to get to meals or to the pier. Alternatively, you could kayak, stand up paddleboard or page the resort's water taxi. 

The Villa Santai © Misool

The dive school was extremely well set up at Misool, with bench-top space for everyone to store equipment, sinks to rinse gear down and plenty of hanging racks for wetsuits, BCDs, etc. It also adjoined a well-stocked library, furnished lounge area with Wi-Fi (15 mins free) and there were lots of inviting outdoor chairs facing the lagoon.

Papua Paradise’s dive school was well-equipped but quite a bit smaller and not set up as a lounge area. However, you spend very little time here as most dive trips were a half or full day, with lunch enjoyed on a remote islet or on a jetty.

Rental BCDs, regulators and all other equipment we hired were excellent in quality at both resorts, and the boat crew extremely professional. Papua Paradise had the upper hand with more dive boats in their fleet – a group of four divers got their own boat and guide, whilst Misool packed up to 8 divers on a boat with 2 guides. Having less people per boat – in my opinion – means less wait time before and after dives, more flexibility in where you go and of course, more space!

The Papua Paradise jetty – note how many dive boats there are!