Misool Eco Resort - Review. We have recently returned from a 3 week trip diving in Indonesia - Raja Ampat. Awesome!!! It really was the dive trip of a lifetime. We had saved for a good for few years for this dive trip to Misool Eco Resort and it was all that we had dreamed of and a whole lot more. We hope that this review might encourage you to also sample some of Misool's Magic!
We flew out from England first stop Bali. We had a couple of days in Tulamben to get over the jet lag and get acclimatised, staying in the Emerald Resort. Great place to stop off, just a few hours from the airport. Of course we had a couple of dives at both Ahmed and on the Liberty wreck. A good place to get wet again for the first time in a couple of months and test out some the new kit which I had bought for the trip.
We then made the journey down to Misool. I have to say that it was quite a long trip, but absolutely a part of the experience not to be missed! And the journey alone has provided fun stories and cool memories that will entertain and enthral friends and family for months to come.
The 4.5hr journey down to Misool was amazing! The feeling of adventure was overwhelming - after leaving the hubbub of Sorong harbour we passed small tropical paradise islands galore, and then into a long straight containing Mangroves, dense jungle, villages built on stilts and plenty of wild life including sea eagles, schools of leaping tuna and flying fish. The only blot on the landscape was the oil exploration platform (let’s hope they don't find anything worth drilling for!). We then had a couple of hours of open sea escorted by 2 large pods of dolphins and massive pelagic fish leaping high out the water near the boat.
The islands of Misool really were an incredible sight. A long chain of vertical cliffed limestone islands, many fringed with white sands and a proliferation of the obligatory palm trees. We reached Batbitim around 5.30pm and the sun was beginning set. We were greeted by a gaggle of smiling eager to help Papuan staff. And soon settled into our over water cottage.
We are delighted that we chose the overwater cottages. The cottage had a view to die for, the turquoise blue waters of the resort's sandy bottomed bay, out to the dark blue of the house reef and beyond were several jungle adorned islands. The cottage was near enough to the facilities, such as the well equiped dive centre and the restaurant. For us by far the best thing was being to just walk down the steps from the veranda and I was swimming/snorkelling/diving in paradise! The resort had paid real attention to detail, really earning it's title as an eco resort - the cottage, walkways, dive centre, restaurant (in fact everything) had been built from driftwood and reclaimed beach wood! The majority of the build had been done using age old construction materials sourced locally (such as the grass thatch roofs) combined with a little modern know how and for us the result was a winner! Even down to the local workforce that built the resort with Thorben, Andy and Marit and their team.
We have been diving for the past 20 years and have visited nearly all of the most acclaimed 'dive Mecca's', we had high expectations after reading all the hype about Raja Ampat! We weren't disappointed by Misool Eco Resort... we had 12 days of unlimited diving. The number of incredible dive sites within a short hop of the resort was fantastic, with most of the sites being within 5-10minutes. We had great vis for most of the trip (25m+) with just a couple of days the vis dropping a little. We went to the island with a wish list of critters to see, and we ticked all the boxes and even added a few: Pigmy Seahorse (Denise and Barbiganti), leaf scorpion fish, mandarin fish, ghost pipe fish, blue ringed octopus, walking shark, wobbygong sharks, leopard shark, frogfish (several different types), flame file shells, large shoals of schooling/hunting jacks, barracuda, mackerel and snappers we were even graced by visiting manta rays on a couple of the sites, the list goes on and on. (The only thing missing was a whale shark - as neither of us has ever seen one), the dive schedule was jammed packed but well organised by the experienced guides who were great spotters and didn't seem to miss a trick! The dive centre was great, with ample place for equipment, great facilities for our camera gear and plenty of reference material at hand (if you are going then take along all the spares to cater for all eventualities as the nearest dive equipment shop is a very long way from there!).
The house reef was great, easily accessible from several entry spots. A gentle current made for very relaxed diving with plenty of fish and a stunning array of corals, with every dive on the house reef we found something new. We even learnt to spot Pigmy Seahorse without the aid of a guide! Just hanging around at 10-15m and watching the action was addictive! We are sure that in any other location the Misool Eco Resort house reef would be good enough to hold the title as the main attraction, but this resort has much, much more…
Our favourite sites included the famous Fiabacet (by far the most beautiful dive site I have ever laid eyes on!), Boo and Magic Mountain. It was not only the diversity of fish that impressed us but the varied dive sites - walls, reefs, caves, shallow coral gardens, mangroves and on and on... We did see some areas which had in times gone by been bombed by local fishermen, but all of these sites are now protected by the patrolled 'No Take Zone'. It was so refreshing to see the efforts of Misool Eco Resort alongside the local people not just taking from the environment but also giving something back in such a positive way.
Apart from the diving, the above water excursions were a real treat - DO NOT miss the trip to the lagoons, caves and to see the aboriginal wall paintings, of course we were in Misool for diving and so nearly declined the daytrip out so we could spend more time under the water. This would have been a big mistake as the lagoons amongst the most idyllic places on our planet! Check out the pics on the Misool Eco Resort website - we thought they must have been photo-shopped or something - but we can assure you they are the real McCoy!
The food at Misool Eco Resort was amazing - an incredible spread laid out for every meal. I can only imagine the logistical nightmare it must be to get regular supplies to the island but somehow these guys managed to supply excellent food. The kitchen team had been trained up by a top western chef and you could taste this really paid dividends!
A wonderful part of Misool Eco Resort that will always be with us is the people... The resort has been staffed mainly by local people that only a few years ago were fishermen and village people living a impoverished / subsistence lifestyle in the middle of nowhere. These people have now have the chance for some education and a means to earn a living. For us, well we were made to feel very welcome, and it was a privilege to have met them, been given a brief insight into their lives and cultures and being allowed to dive their waters.
We have some photo’s that we are presently editing and going through, we will post them shortly, we only hope that they do justice to this beautiful place.
We have been home now just a few weeks, our time in Misool feels like a dream from a very wonderful world that we are already saving to return to!