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We received tons of messages asking us for practical information about Raja Ampat! So, we decided to regroup all the information in one ultimate guide to organize your trip in Raja Ampat. But beware, Raja Ampat to be earned, and requires above all, to behave as a respectful and responsible visitor. Tourism, which is booming in the region, is endangering one of the most magnificent biodiversity reserves on the planet.

Did you know that Raja Ampat means “The four kings”? Consisting of a multitude of islets covered with jungle, it is an archipelago located in West Papua (also call Papoua Barat in indonesian), in the coral triangle of the Indo-Pacific zone.

Nature is still relatively preserved, because these islands are distant and isolated, still not too popular (even if it is less and less true). The archipelago of Raja Ampat is exceptional, for its beauty and its biodiversity, on land as at sea.

Travel with less plans and more freedom.

But tourism development in the region is accelerating and has negative consequences for the environment. Presented as a “dream destination” to the tourists we are, Raja Ampat is first and foremost a natural treasure, which must be preserved and protected. However, we must be aware that each of our visits have an impact on this unique and fragile ecosystem …

A BIT OF GEOGRAPHY

We reassure you, it is only recently that we heard about this little pearl. We did not even know where it was!

So, it’s just here:

Raja Ampat's location

Most travelers reach Raja Ampat via Sorong Airport, across from the islands. The city has about 220,000 inhabitants, it is a mining and industrial port, without much charm.

Sorong is located right here:

Sorong's location

HOW TO GO TO RAJA AMPAT

To go to Raja Ampat, you must first organize your trip to Indonesia or to a neighboring country with convenient connections to Indonesia (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for example).

As far as we are concerned, we did Kuala Lumpur – Jakarta – Sorong.

Indeed, Raja Ampat, it is far, very far, in the extreme east of Indonesia. The journey is not done in one go …

Once arrived in Sorong, in the case you took a dive cruise, I think the organization takes care of your pick up at the airport of Sorong. But in the case you made it like us, that is to say, to travel in backpack from islands to islands, you have to reach the island of Waisai, where you will then take a speed boat that will take you to the island where you booked your accommodation.

It looks complicated, I know, but no panic, nothing more simple!

At the airport, a hundred of “taxi” will gladly take you to the harbor where you can catch the ferry that takes you to Waisai (this is the most economical solution).

Do not hesitate to ask the tourists at the airport if they go to the harbor and if they want to share the cost of the taxi with you (there is no small savings! That’s what we did with a Spanish couple). The taxi ride cost us 4.40 euros.

Once at the harbor, go to the small post office where you will buy tickets for the ferry. Seeing that you are tourists, the lady at the desk will ask you if you want VIP tickets. Tell her you want the normal (only 100K rupiah per person = around 12 euros). Many locals also take the ferry so you will immediately be immersed in the culture!

BE CAREFUL : there are only 2 ferries per day! One at 9am and the other at 2pm. If you arrive after this time, stay a night in Sorong and take the ferry the next day (We stayed twice in Sorong and tested 2 hotels, we recommend The Favehotel, it is clean and people are nice !).

The ferry ride takes 2 hours.

When you arrive at Waisai, follow the crowd, you will go on the other side of the harbor where you can take a speed boat that will take you to the island of your choice.

STOP ! Not so fast! You now must pay the entrance fee! Yes, you have to pay an entrance fee to visit the Raja Ampat Natural Marine Park. It costs 1 million rupiah (about 60 euros) per person for foreigners and is valid for one year from date to date.

You are given a perforated plastic card indicating this period of validity, with your name and passport number on the back and, for divers, a plastic badge to hang on the stab.

Little tips : buy the permit from an official office, and do not buy it from people who could approach you and offer it to you at the exit of the ferry. You may pay more and get an invalid license…

This entry fee is intended to finance conservation actions in the protected maritime area and to supply a Community fund (70%) and to contribute to the development of the region (30%).

Now that you are ready to go, again, ask the tourists around if they go to the same island as you, to share the cost of the speed boat.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Unless you come on a cruise, you will do as we did, that is to say, go to homestays.

In the islands of the archipelago, there are now many homestays. They are not quite homestay accommodation as the expression suggests, but accommodation for tourists built by the locals.

Most often, it is simple wooden huts and palm leaves, in local style, with very rustic comfort: a mattress on the floor, a mosquito net, shared sanitary. It is also possible to stay in homestays in the heart of a village, such as Arborek Island (near the manta ray site).

To book your accommodation, we recommend this website. It is a real gold mine, full of useful information for independent travellers on a low budget ! The website is updated very regularly. You can see bungalows on the islands of Kri, Mansuar, Arborek, Batanta, etc…. Take the time to browse the comments below, to get fresh information on the welcome and cleanliness of the homestays, it can be very variable, some have deteriorated quite a bit from one year to another and some travellers come back disappointed (we booked all our homestays on this website and we had no bad surprises ! We will put the list of our homestays a below).

For these very simple accommodations, the tarifs start from 300,000 rupiah to 800,000 rupiah per person per night on a full board, i.e. with three meals included.

To book your accommodation, we recommend this website. It is a real gold mine, full of useful information for independent travellers on a low budget ! The website is updated very regularly. You can see bungalows on the islands of Kri, Mansuar, Arborek, Batanta, etc…. Take the time to browse the comments below, to get fresh information on the welcome and cleanliness of the homestays, it can be very variable, some have deteriorated quite a bit from one year to another and some travellers come back disappointed (we booked all our homestays on this website and we had no bad surprises ! We will put the list of our homestays a below).

HOW TO MOVE FROM ISLAND TO ANOTHER ?

There are no regular connections between the different islands, except for the Sorong-Waisai ferry which connects to the large island of Waigeo.

The best thing is to ask the people in your homestay if they can take you somewhere with their boat. But remember, you have to know exactly what you want. Fuel is expensive, and prices are sometimes a bit “customer-led”. Independent travellers, get together and share boats !

The islands look close together on the map, but in reality, navigation takes time. Local boats are slow, and even speed boats are not always that “speed”.

THE DIVES NOT TO BE MISSED

You can find more information about our dives here.

In general, all sites, even those considered the least spectacular, have their share of surprises in Raja Ampat.

There is always a black tip shark hiding in a corner, a pygmy seahorse nestled in a gorgon, a group of humpback parrots, an oceanic manta that flows into the blue, a whirlwind of barracudas or a group of jacks that emerges in the current…

Remember that we are in the centre of the Coral Triangle, it is the epicentre of marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific zone.

OUR RAJA AMPAT TOUR

We started our tour with:

Homestay : Warahnus homestay (300K rupiah per person/night with 3 meals included = about 18 euros)

What we liked : In front of the bungalow you have the best Island spot to snorkel !

8 days on Gam island :

Homestay : Arnes homestay. I think they are not in stayrajaampat website anymore. (350K per person/night with 3 meals included = about 21 euros)

What we liked : Food was really good and we were the only tourists there. Also, we did a nice excursion to see the paradise birds !

What we liked least : It was a little bit too isolated. We shouldn’t have stayed too much on this island. Also, internet signal was not good.

After that, we had to go back to Sorong to extend our tourist visa (we only took the 30 days tourist visa when we entered into the indonesian territory, so we had to extend it for another 30 days).

By the way, if you have to extend your visa in Sorong, it takes 3 working days to do it ! It is quite fast and if you go early, you are not waiting.

5 days in Fam island :

Homestay : Rufas homestay (400K rupiah per person/night with 3 night included = about 24 euros)

What we liked : It was a wonderful stay as we were on a private lagoon. So beautiful! And we were also very close to Piaynemo’s point of views.

What we liked least : The price to go there. It is far from Waisai so transfer is quite expensive and it is really complicated to share prices with other tourists (as many of them do not go that far).

5 days on Arborek island :

Homestay : on Kalabia homestay (350K rupiah per person/night with 3 meals included = about 21 euros)

What we liked : Best homestay in terms of food and bungalow ! You litteraly are in a village with locals, it is lovely. Amazing excursion to see the mantas.

Regarding our homestays, we were lucky as we always had really really good. If we had to rank it, it would be :

  1. Kalabia homestay in Arborek : best food and bungalow we had.
  2. Warahnus homestay in Kri : Very good food, people speaks a little more English and there is the best snorkeling spot just in front on your bungalow !
  3. Rufas homestay : for the location. Being in a private lagoon is priceless. But it is quite expensive to go there.
  4. Arnes homestay : because we didn’t do so many things and due to its frange location.

HOW LONG SHOULD I STAY IN RAJA AMPAT ?

When we went to Raja Ampat, we thought we would stay there for more than 30 days so we payed the 30-day visa (to extend it again 30 days).

To be honest, the 30-day visa is very sufficient. You have time to wander on several islands and to make many awesome excursions. Looking back, that’s what we should have done 🙂

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

WHEN TO GO TO RAJA AMPAT?

Good question. There are many websites that will give you conflicting information on this subject. The truth is that whatever the season, the sky alternates between bright sunshine, grey and rain in a an equal way. We were lucky because we spent a month and a half there (November/December) and it didn’t rain much. It should also be noted that rains are often very localized. It is not uncommon to observe a large cloud pouring rain curtains on an island just a few kilometres away, while the sun is shining brightly on the island where you are, for example.

The air temperature is stable (around 32/33 degrees), the water temperature is constant, around 29/30 degrees. We’re at the equator, so basically it’s always hot and humid. The climate is truly equatorial all year round, with no major seasonal variations. However, weather is not an exact science….

ARE THERE MOSQUITOES IN RAJA AMPAT?

Yes. No more than anywhere else in these latitudes, and they can transmit malaria. But we can’t decide for you whether or not you should take preventive treatment. We are not doctors and it is up to everyone to take responsibility for their health.

ARE THERE ATM ON THE ISLANDS ?

Nope ! You have to take as much cash as you can before leaving Sorong or Waisai. There are no ATM on the islands. Sometimes, you can pay your homestay by credit card when they are equipped with the necessary equipment but it is quite rare.

CAN WE HAVE INTERNET SIGNAL IN RAJA AMPAT ?

Yes! But not everywhere. Some islands are close to an internet antenna, some others are not. You have to buy a SIM card. We bought one in Waisai : 50 000 rupiah (around 3 euros) with 35GB of internet for 100 000 rupiah (around 12 euros).

BUDGET

Excluding our little trip to Sorong to extend our visa (the error you won’t make if you stay during 30 days or if you already have a 60 days visa), we spent a month (28 days) in the fabulous Raja Ampat’s islands. It is quite a lot. As we said before, 30 days is enough and we would advise not to stay more than 5/6 days on each island.

So here is our budget for 2 people for : 

  • Accomodations : 1057 euros
  • Transports : 250 euros
  • Entrance fee : 120 euros
  • Activities (excluding diving) : 25 euros
  • Internet SIM card + 35gb : 15 euros

TOTAL : 1467 euros for one month

= 733.5 euros per person

= around 26 EUROS PER DAY

If after that, you still want to go to Raja Ampat, be careful, it might be your BEST trip ever 😉

Learn more in related article: Arborek, is it worth it ?

We are Elsa & Cyril, a French couple who left behind the French Art de Vivre to travel the world and chase our own dreams. Find out the rest of our story here !