Our furthermost stop is at the north-western tip of Raja Ampat, the small island of Piai. On offer are turtles, island walk and snorkeling; the island has good sandy beaches for nesting turtles, and a fringing coral reef for underwater pleasure. I forgo the pleasure of the jungle walk; the humidity makes me too uncomfortable, and if I’m to be wet, let it be in the water.
Being at the tip of the archipelago, and not sheltered by other land masses, there is a strong current that runs along the beach, so we are advised to start our snorkeling at the end the current is coming from, and allow it to pull us along. Swimming against the tide is too exhausting, as we discover when we get into the water at the wrong end of the beach. Before we are swept out to sea, we make land again and walk up the beach to the other end.
The water is relatively clear, and we manage to spot a couple of turtles swimming in the water. One small juvenile has three barnacles on its back, and swims not far from me before scooting off into the blue. Just as I am pursuing the little blighter, my companions enjoy the spectacle of a large male surfacing just near them. Damn, missed it!!
There are some beautiful black, yellow and black and yellow frond corals waving at me, so I have to duck dive to capture their beauty.
Before too long we are wafted to the other end of the beach, and emerge again to walk back. Geoff shows us the Turtle graveyard – an area where the poachers would come and butcher the turtles for their meat. Carapaces, skulls and bones are strewn around amongst the trees, which allows some gruesome anatomical explanations. Personally I prefer my turtles alive and swimming in the ocean.