Real barefoot luxury in a fairytale setting with some of the best diving on earth
Looking at the pics, you’d think that this stunningly whimsical over-the-water resort in remotest Indonesia was the work of a major boutique hotel brand. In fact it was built entirely from recycled wood (600 tonnes of it) over a period of years by a group of dedicated and possibly slightly insane dive friends. The resulting property is as magical as it looks - from the wooden water cottages, thoughtfully equipped with crayons and paper for amateur sketching besides all the creature comforts, to the lavish buffets that are served each day in the pavilion restaurant, from which you can watch baby sharks dabbling in the lagoon. Diving and snorkelling is world class.
Misool Eco Resort’s water cottages are connected by wooden walkways - all eight are built over the reef and you can see octopus, sharks, napoleon wrasse and a myriad other coral species without even getting into the water. In addition, there are six larger villas for couples or groups looking for more space and seclusion - they can be accessed by water taxi (always on hand) or by a scenic - but steep walk. All enjoy unique design features and ocean panoramas so epic that you’ll find it hard to draw your eyes away from them. The waterside restaurant pavilion is also a gathering ground for guests to swap tales of underwater derring-do - there are tables, daybeds and cushions strewn about to encourage chilling.
Diving is obviously the big draw with a fascinating diversity of dive sites within easy reach of the resort, which is smack bang in the middle of a 1220km2 marine protected area. More than 60 of these dive sites are within an hour’s speedboat ride. Misool is in the south of Raja Ampat, an area famed for its muyriad colourful soft corals and giant gorgonian fans - these are the kind of coral gardens you see in nature docs, populated with well over 1000 species of marine creature. In fact the 2014 IMAX movie Journey to the South Pacific was shot at Misool’s dive sites. Besides diving and snorkelling, there are fascinating trips to see caves and paleolithic paintings, bird watching, trekking and more...Yoga and spa treatments are available at the resort.
Misool Eco Resort is one of the leading examples of tourism and conservation objectives working in perfect harmony. The owners were able to have the whole of Raja Ampat declared a shark and manta sanctuary, first by collecting over 8500 signatures on a petition and then explainign the economic value of keeping these creatures alive in terms of potential tourism revenue. The resort’s Conservation Centre is a registered Indonesian charity and the 828km2 No Take Zone is not just in name only - it’s regularly patrolled by local rangers to ensure no illegal fishing is taking place. Add to this scientific studies on mantas, reef restoration projects and social programmes including building a kindergarten and developing a dive guide training programme and it’s clear that these guys really are at the vanguard of future, sustainable tourism development thinking.
Get the latest news from The Coral Triangle