Raja Ampat is home to the Renowned Friwin Islands
Nestled off the coast of Gam Island Raja Ampat, you will come across two small islands that, at a distance, do not differ much from the beauty that surrounds you in this magical place. Still, upon closer inspection, you will realise that these islands are incredible locations with many hidden secrets.
The Friwen Islands consist of Palau Friwen and Friwenbonda, separated by a narrow channel lush with shallow coral slopes, reefs, small rock outcroppings, and island formations.
Palau Friwen, the larger of the two islands, is home to a local village. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and island vegetation, this small village offers visitors the opportunity to see how the local community lives their daily lives. The friendly people of the area are welcoming and always helpful and eager for a photo opportunity, especially the children who spend their days enjoying the sun and clear waters around one of the local jetties or beaches on the island.
The island also offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a local snack or drink at one of the small shops run from the homes of the locals. A local snorkeling center offers essential equipment rentals for those who want to enjoy the shallow reefs and incredible marine life that congregates around the jetties. Visitors can walk around the island in 30 minutes, experiencing beautiful white beaches and astonishing limestone formations that create a unique landscape between the palm trees where the local birds are happily chirping away.
Palau Friwen is also home to one of the best beaches in the area. Small local huts and tree swings can be found scattered along the north side of the island’s coastline. The local community takes pride in their environment and cleans the beach and surrounding areas daily, even making zen-like rake patterns in the sand.
In addition, they have constructed many shaded seating areas for visitors to use any time of the day. When visiting the island at sunset, you might even be treated to a bonfire on the beach. While visiting the beach, the local children will show off their skills on the rope swings performing acrobatics in the water. Try the local fried bananas when visiting, as they are the best in Raja Ampat.
Palau Friwen offers homestay opportunities for adventurous visitors. These homestays are in pristine locations offering their guests easy access to the ocean and village while providing an authentic stay with your host family. They happily open their homes to share their way of life with visitors. A homestay-style lunch can easily be incorporated into your visit for those who want only some of the homestay experience.
Feasting on fresh fish and local specialties is an experience all should have when visiting the area. Palau Friwen is an island that should be on your to-do list in Raja Ampat. It provides enough to visitors while not compromising the experience for touristic purposes. This is one way Raja Ampat is meant to be experienced.
Across the small channel on the Southern side of Palau Friwen, you are treated to a view of the smaller Friwen Islands, Friwenbonda. This unique island towers out of the water with impressive limestone cliffs and outcroppings leading to a high tree canopy. The landscape changes drastically as you circle the island with small bays, private white beaches, and sloping hills extending into the ocean.
Friwenbonda is also home to one of the most incredible homestay experiences Raja Ampat offers. You are hidden away in the limestone cliffs; after a short climb, you are treated to a fantastic view of the entire island and the private beach only accessible from that homestay. The island is home to the endangered Coconut Crab, which grows to impressive sizes and unique colour patterns. The local homestay owners actively protect these crabs and educate visitors and the local community on the habits and behaviour of these crabs. The private beach offers visitors a relaxed environment to take in the sun and sea.
While these islands offer incredible land-based experiences, the islands are also famous for the many dive sites surrounding them. The islands are close to the mainland, making them easily accessible for all to dive and snorkel. Palau Friwen has many sloping fringe reefs that allow for easy diving conditions. These reefs are rich with soft and hard coral growth and incredible macro photography opportunities. These slopes are home to an insane number of nudibranch species and even the Pygmy Seahorse. Divers can spend their entire dive inspecting a single coral bommie and never get bored. The density of macro life is unrivaled.
Across the channel, the diving differs vastly. Friwen Wall is a world-famous dive site, and the wall extends from the limestone cliffs on the Northern coast of Friwenbonda up to 25m in depth. The wall is covered in colourful soft coral sponges and massive sea fans. The reef surfaces are covered in dense, hard coral, and the crevasses are home to many crustaceans and other macro critters. The wall is known for large overhangs and gullies where you can easily spot larger fish species hiding away.
The channel between the two Friwen Islands is often subject to strong currents. This makes it the perfect area for schooling fish to spend their time, and often you will spot these schools gracefully gliding just off the reef. When diving at this site at the turn of the tide, divers can expect abundant marine life all around while still being on a safe and easy dive. As you approach the western part of the reef, the topography suddenly changes to a gently sloping reef with large hard coral formations and soft coral growth rich with marine life. This dive site truly has it all.
The Friwen Islands provide visitors with some of the ‘greatest hits of Raja Ampat’ in an easily accessible location, and this must be included in your travel plans when you are in the area.
About Meridian Adventure Dive
Situated in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, Meridian Adventure Dive is a PADI 5 Star Resort and winner of the PADI Green Star award. Scuba divers enjoy our professional services that have become synonymous with both the PADI and Meridian Adventure names.