Misool Resort was born out of a chance meeting, serendipity, love and oodles of enthusiasm. The private island resort is hidden deep in the archipelago of Raja Ampat and surrounded by uninhabited islands and the richest reefs in the world, the epitome of marine biodiversity. The nearest village is 20 kilometres away by boat and 165 kilometres from the nearest airport. It’s not a destination that honeymooners would happen upon but one that takes intentional planning, communication and lots of excitement. It is probably one of the remotest destinations in the world, and oh so worth it.
After a chance meeting in Bangkok, the now Miners, Marit and Andrew, took to Raja Ampat for their third date. During a surface interval between dives, they explored the little island of Batbitim. They discovered a recently abandoned shark finning camp that was contributing to the sickening shark fin soup industry. They were appalled at what they saw and were inspired to protect these incredible enclaves. Andrew was blessed with the permission of the local clan elder; they could set about creating a resort and conservation centre on Batbitim Island. This led to an extraordinary chain of events that would not only change their lives but those of local villagers. Together, they have created the most incredible and diverse marine reserve globally.
The reefs around Misool were once at the heart of the destructive shark finning trade and unchecked dynamite fishing, which destroyed some of the most important and bio-diverse reefs on earth. The Misool Marine Reserve now protects 300,000 acres of hyperdiverse coral and is a strictly governed no-fish zone. After almost three years of building the entire resort from reclaimed tropical hardwoods, the meticulously designed accommodation offers complete comfort and privacy. The resort is so exclusive that guests need to book up to three years in advance.
The accommodation is either on stilts over the North Lagoon or on the softest white sand on South Beach. The rooms are peppered throughout the towering natural karsts within the resort; they are spacious and boast large terraces, hammocks, and on-deck dining. Each Bali-inspired outdoor bathroom has oversized rain showers. Local artisans handcrafted the furniture from recycled wood from around the archipelago, and the minibars are stocked with locally sourced goodies.
There’s no better way to enjoy your honeymoon than sipping a perfectly chilled drink as you watch baby sharks play and turtles meander around the calm shallows of the lagoon nibbling on seagrass. Dining at Misool is another treat. The restaurant nestles under the shady coconut palms that sway effortlessly in the breeze to keep you cool. They offer four meals a day, including afternoon tea on the terrace. Lunch is an informal affair and is served in the traditional Indonesian family style. The chefs cook each meal and intermittent treats from fresh, local ingredients such as the moreish island-fresh banana fritters with shaved white chocolate. The menu strikes a perfect balance between tasty, healthy, indulgent and sustainable.
Diving in the Misool Marine Reserve is nothing short of magical. The house reef is accessed just off the jetty and provides an easy drift dive on a rising tide. The topography of the dive changes dramatically from a gentle slope to a steep wall that plummets to the deep; it’s festooned with glorious overhangs of soft coral, huge gorgonian sea fans and technicolour sea squirts. You’ll be joined by enormous schools of fusiliers and shoals of fluttery anchovies. Some inquisitive large groupers live under the jetty; they’ll often come and investigate new divers.
Nonchalant blacktip reef sharks patrol the depths for easy prey, and the occasional aloof grey reef shark might pass you by. Keep a keen eye out for the tiniest pygmy seahorses, the colourful crinoids and arrowhead crabs that cling to the fan coral. The endemic epaulette shark can be found in the shallows at night, scurrying along on their pectoral fins and hunting for their next meal. Other local reefs include Wobbegong City and the world-famous Magic Mountain, one of the only sites in the world which are visited by both species of Manta ray.
Back at the resort, if wellness is on your itinerary, indulge in treatments made with organic, natural ingredients such as aloe, banana leaves, cucumber and coconuts. The scrubs are hand-blended using Indonesian kemiri nuts and coffee from the highlands of Papua. Hand-pressed coconuts form the base oil for massage and beauty treatments. Choose from the privacy of your own villa or The Lookout for your treatment.
For romantic honeymooners, Misool offers many of the essential ingredients to forge the perfect, post-nuptial journey with tranquillity, idyllic surroundings, nature and romantic escapades. The honeymoon package combines a sunset cruise, a romantic beach castaway experience and a romantic dinner. Whether you’re enjoying languid days with nothing other than each other, playing on your own private beach or exploring the wild labyrinth of turquoise lagoons in nearby Wayil Batan, with its craggy islets wrapped in wild orchids. You are likely to spot pods of dolphins and frigate birds hunting the bait balls of fish at the surface. Misool will be an unforgettable trip and the perfect start to married life.
For more information about your faraway dream honeymoon, contact Misool’s reservation team – https://www.misool.info/book.
Katie Hollamby is a well-travelled public relations specialist turned writer for various international publications, tourism boards and ethical brands. Originally from the UK, she’s worked around the world, lived in and explored North America, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Maldives and now Thailand. She’s passionate about the welfare of animals and sustainability. For more adventures, you can follow her on Instagram @thekatybooks.