Mayalibit Bay is one of the interesting destinations in the Raja Ampat area, West Papua. It is an excellent spot for sightseeing and relaxing. Besides, Mayalibit Bay has several attraction points that are difficult to find anywhere else.
Despite its uniqueness, Mayalibit bay isn’t as popular as the other Raja Ampat destinations. Probably it hasn’t yet. Once more people acknowledge the value of this bay, it will be one of the must-visit West Papua destinations, especially Raja Ampat.
Mayalibit Bay, also called “Teluk Mayalibit,” is named after two words, “Maya” and “Libit”. Word “Maya” refers to the name of the tribes that have lived in the surrounding areas of the bay since ancient times. Meanwhile, “Libit” means bay in the local language.
How To Get To Mayalibit Bay
This bay is located in Waigeo, one of the biggest islands in Raja Ampat. With an area of around 50 hectares, Mayalibit Bay is divided into two administrative districts. First, the Mayalibit Bay district, and second the Mayalibit Tiplol district.
One of the things that makes this bay special is the effort to get there. It only takes around 15 minutes speed boat ride from Waisai port. But important to note that tourists can only access the bay when the tide is low.
The bay’s topography increases the water currents and elevations significantly during the high tide. The bay only has a one-way canal connecting to the open sea. It is long, narrow, and devious.
What Can Be Found in Mayalibit Bay
The first thing you can notice when you get there is the mangrove forests along the Mayalibit’s shores. There are over 20 types of mangroves. On the edge of the mangrove forests, there are also around 70 meters spread of seagrass or “lamun”.
Other than seagrass, there are also a few hard corals, mostly on the mouth of the bay. These two become potential habitats for a lot of fish and sea creatures. Among more than 200 types of fish there, some have high economic value—for example, mackerel, shrimp, local lobster, snapper, and mud crab.
If you visit Mayalibit Bay, you can also stop by some villages nearby. You can witness the local people traditionally catch fish or see how they harvest sago and cacao. If you are lucky, on the way there, you can also see white dolphins and crocodiles that live along the bay.
One of the most valuable things about Mayalibit Bay is its conservation efforts. The local authority, the indigenous people, and the external parties are working harmoniously towards the same goal.
In detail, since November 2006, Mayalibit Bay has become the first Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Raja Ampat. The full process of obtaining legal status was completed in 2014. The form of fisheries management approach in this MPA area is Customary Fisheries Management (CFM).
To elaborate, this approach combines traditional ecological wisdom and Territorial Use Rights for Fisheries Reserve (TURF Reserve) principles. That is why Mayalibit Bay become “Kawasan Perikanan Adat (KPA)” or Indigenous Fisheries Area.
This means the right to use Mayalibit Bay’s resources becomes the responsibility of each village and or tribe. The locals implement this policy by making “sasi”. Sasi is one of the local traditions in limiting the use of natural resources.
The limitations can be a time-range limitation, equipment limitations, and the sea creature’s size. The formulation of the sasi was based on the theory and considerations to keep natural resources sustainable.
Henceforth, these efforts have proven effective in maintaining a healthy ecosystem in Mayalibit Bay. There is a significant increase in reef fish biomass and herbivore fish biomass proportion than it was before the policy was implemented.
In conclusion, Mayalibit Bay is an important natural resource for the locals. Also a potential destination for tourists. Moreover, better facilities, such as the Mayalibit Bay cottage, are now built to create a better experience in Mayalibit Bay. So, make sure to include Mayalibit Bay as one of the must-visit places in West Papua!