We’re heading to Waisai, the main town on the island of Waigeo, and the gateway to Raja Ampat. The name means “Four Kings”, for the four islands that make up the Birds Head Peninsula – Batanta, Waigeo, Salawati and Misool. It’s an archipelago of over 1500 islands with the richest, most diverse marine ecology on the planet and we can’t wait to explore it.
We anchor off the new Meridian dive resort and marina in Waisai – it’s been open about 12 months and currently has room for only a few yachts. Most of the space is taken up by their fleet of Lagoon 62 catamarans that I gather are used on a timeshare basis by their Russian investors. It’s an impressive place with some eye-watering prices at the bar and restaurant, but they’re very welcoming to us ‘grotty yachties’ and allow us to join the staff at the bar to watch the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. It’s a fun night with our new cruising buddies off “Jams”, “Sarabande” and “Kaiya Song”, but the less said about the Wallabies performance the better – we can only dream that one day we’ll be back in contention.
A three-day cultural festival is also being held in Waisai this weekend, so we enjoy seeing the local kids dancing and singing and explore the stalls selling everything from hats and carvings to local food and drink. We continue to be blown away by the friendliness of everyone we meet – they all want selfies with us, we feel like VIPs!
We like Waisai – it’s got a great local fruit and veggie market, some fairly basic supermarkets, ATMs and several restaurants. We take our first “Ojek” ride – the motorbike taxis that you find everywhere in this part of Indonesia. It’s good fun and super cheap – just Aus$2 for a one-way trip from the anchorage to town. No helmets for passengers, you just hang on and hope for the best!
We learn from our new cruising buddies that Waisai is the best place to re-provision if you don’t want to go back to Sorong, but there’s also a daily fast ferry service to Sorong which is a good way to bring guests in. Many of the traditional “phinisi” live-aboard dive boats meet their guests here, and now that the season’s underway it’s getting busy.
We reckon we have a week or so to wait for our prop to arrive, so in the meantime we’re going to get a taste of some nearby Raja Ampat islands with “Jams” and “Sarabande”. It’s wonderful to finally have the company of other cruisers after so long on our own, and particularly as these guys have the low-down on all the best spots to go. Love this cruising life!