Papua Travel Information - Misool

Misool: Raja Ampat's Stunning South
Misool is the southernmost one of Raja Ampat's four main islands, located closer to the Central Malukan island of Seram than to Waigeo or even Sorong. It is in fact in the process of leaving the regency of Raja Ampat altogether to form a new administrative region, together with Kofiau, on its own. Due to its far-flung location, few visitors include Misool in their Raja Ampat itinerary, other than those who go to stay at its single resort, or those on cruises that stop here on an itinerary also taking in Maluku or southern Papua. Those who do make it here are likely to be stunned though - Misool offers scenery that easily rivals, maybe even beats, that of much more famous Wayag, and its attractions are certainly far more diverse. A real gem!
Attractions Off the Track Activities Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food
Main Attractions

Rock Islands of SE Misool

Misool has an enormous area of rock islands to its southeast, forming several chains stretching into various directions. You couldn't give this whole area justice even in several days, and the islands come in far more diverse formations than those at Wayag or indeed anywhere else in Raja Ampat. It has the rounded-topped sugarloaf types, but also pointed ones, ones standing alone, ones forming lagoons... you name it, Misool has it!

The "Thousand Temples"

This area has the highest concentration of a type of rock islands I've only seen in Misool, spiky ones, flattened from the side.

Sumalenen Rocks

More of the spiky rocks can be seen, pleasantly situated near a fine white sand beach, at the location named Sumalenen.


With all this limestone around, it is not surprising that there are also several caves to explore here. While Tomolol Cave is the most famous, there are many more, and they may be entered on foot for viewing stalactites, bats, etc.

Tomolol Cave

Misool's most famous and most visited cave has a whole river-sized waterway flowing out through it, and can be entered by rubber-boat - a popular program for the passengers of cruises that stop here. The cave is a sacred site for the local people, with a Musim shrine at its entrance.

Rock Art

Misool even has its own set of rock art, mostly of hand prints and geometrical paintings on cliffs. It is nowhere nearly as impressive as the rock art near Kaimana or Kokas on the mainland, but still interesting all the same.

Cliff Burial Sites

There are also several ancient cliff burial sites here, and unlike at Waigeo, many still contain skulls. They tend to be in wet locations, with the bones overgrown with algae or moss, and may be hard to view from sea level. They are very fragile - don't touch them, and tell your companions not to do so either!

Off the Beaten Track

The Interior

Misool has a rugged and jungly interior that can even be entered by river. People once used to live there, but have now all moved close to the coast, and only visit inland for gardening and hunting. You'll definitely need a guide to explore this area.


Diving & Snorkeling

The potential for snorkeling here is really unlimited, but diving is only available at the single resort.

Watching Wildlife

Misool's interior is still rich in wildlife. There are pademelons (small kangaroos), brush turkeys, cuscuses, and lots of cockatoos and parrots. But as usual, seeing Papuan wildlife is not easy!


With almost no trails established in the rock islands as yet, the best options for hikers is to head for the interior. Even there, there are only the faintest of trails, so of course local guides are mandatory - don't expect them to speak anything but Indonesian!

Local Culture

The People of Misool

Unlike in most of Raja Ampat, all the local people here are natives of Misool, speaking the island's unique language. But they can be split into two, clearly defined groups. Those who used to live in the interior are now Christian, and look purely Papuan. They usually still make their living from farming and hunting inland, even though they now live close to or right on the coast. Those who have traditionally lived along the coast have long mixed with people from Maluku, which is obvious in their features, and are Muslim. These mostly live off the sea.

A Wedding in Misool

On my first trip to MIsool, we were lucky enough to happen upon a wedding in a Christian village - well, actually two weddings in one ceremony, held for two brothers at the same time. It was a rare chance to see traditional dancing, and also to see how Malukan culture has influenced Misool, with the brides wearing typically Malukan dress.

Traditional Dancing

The traditional dance of Misool is only performed by men, and seems a rather simple set of steps, danced to slow singing. Even among the Christian/interior people it is going out of fashion these days, and is known mostly by older men.

Sago Processing

As usual in the lowland parts of Papua, but less common in much of Raja Ampat these days, sago is the traditional staple food in Misool. At least one village, Biga, makes most of its living from cultivating and processing sago, which can be interesting to watch if you haven't seen it elsewhere yet.

Getting There and Around

By Sea

After Waigeo, Misool is probably the most accessible island by public transport, served by several ships/boats from Sorong and Maluku. But unlike those to Waigeo, ships to MIsool run less frequently and more irregularly - you have to ask around and wait till something comes this way. Chartering to Misool would be very expensive from Sorong, though once in Misool, you will of course inevitably have to charter to explore the rock islands, caves, the interior, etc. For those thinking of joining a Raja Ampat cruise, one including MIsool would be a great choice, though it will probably mean giving up visiting the islands up north, as very few cruises combine both areas.


Misool has a single resort. By far the most isolated in all Raja Ampat, the European-owned Misool Eco Resort is located on the island of Batbitim amidst the rock islands of the southeast. It is very expensive, but gets high marks both for the experience and service it offers, and for its conservation efforts and involvement with the local community.

Budget accommodation is also available in the village of Harapan Jaya.  At 400.000 Rp per person per night with meals, is also quite expensive as far as locally-owned bungalow operations go, but it also offers higher standards than most. Accommodation is in a longhouse type building on a hillside at the edge of the village, though the owner has plans to build proper beach bungalows on the neighbouring isle.

As usual, you can only get the most basic supplies in most villages, with cookeed meals only sold when a ship stops by. The food in the guesthouse in Harapan Jaya is excellent, involving huge portions of fresh fish.