Raja Ampat which means Four Kings is an archipelago located in West Papua. No more doubts, it is the best diving spot in Indonesia, even on earth. Raja Ampat has the most marine diversity.
The position among two oceans, Indians and Pacific Oceans, with the suitable temperature accelerated corals growth. No wonder it’s considered as last paradise on earth. The beauty and the diversity, added with the warm local people, is a must place to visit.
Raja Ampat name comes from a local mythology. Before, a woman found seven eggs, 4 of them hatched and became kings which is now known as the four big islands, Waigeo, Misool, Salawati, and Batanta. One hatched as a woman, and the other one didn’t hatched. It’s not easy to reach this top-listed diving site.
Expensive flight and poor information lead to misunderstanding about Raja Ampat. Many people think going to Raja Ampat is very expensive, well, half true half not. I’m going to give some tips related on how to travel cheap to Raja Ampat.
How to get to Raja Ampat
It’s true that Raja Ampat is located in the far east of Indonesia. This is how you can get there.
First, take a flight to Sorong
First, you’ll have to fly to the city named Sorong. There are direct flights by Garuda Indonesia and Batik Air from Jakarta to Sorong. It’ll take about 4 hours. Expect to pay around USD 200 one way.
It used to be cheaper to make stopover at the city like Surabaya or Makassar. However, I just checked the available flights (July 2020) that there’s no direct flight from either Surabaya or Makassar.
Let’s say if you want to do transit flights to city like Makassar (South Sulawesi). I mean, I love Sulawesi, there’re actually some cool places to visit around Makassar such as Tana Toraja.
Sulawesi has some islands that I’d say the beauty, or the diving spot is just next to Raja Ampat.
Back to the flight, if you fly through Makassar, you’ll need to make transit in a city called Manokwari. In total, it’ll be a 6 hours flight including 1 transit, price is about USD 100 one way.
At that time when I traveled to Raja Ampat in 2013.
Second, take a boat to Waisai or Misool
Here’s the part. As I mentioned before, Raja Ampat consists of 4 islands. Most of the travelers will go to Waisai (Waigeo Island). Misool is getting more popular as well. Maybe check out first which of the island you wanna go to, maybe both.
So, after you arrive in Sorong, get a public transportation from the airport to the port (3.6 km).
Actually Papua is not expensive as we thought despite of the price of gasoline can reached twice as Jakarta. Surprisingly the cost of transportation around is not so expensive.
I took an ojek (local scooter with driver) and cost me only Rp 15,000. (Update 2020: Rp 25,000).
It’s very easy to take ojek from airport or if you’re in a group you can car/taxi for Rp 100,000-200,000 to the port. Here’s the fast boat schedule:
- Sorong – Waisai. Operates daily at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The journey takes 2 hours. Ticket price is Rp 125,000 for economy class and Rp 215,000 for VIP class. Same schedule for Waisai – Sorong.
- Sorong – Misool. Operates only Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 12 p.m. Take around 4 hours and the ticket price is Rp 250,000. For return, Misool – Sorong operates Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at 7 a.m.
Once you’re in Waisai, you can either choose to stay in Waisai or move to the homestay at the small islands.
Read Also: Snorkeling in Weh Island, Sabang
Where to Stay in Raja Ampat
You can choose whatever kind of places you want to stay starts from homestay or resort. There’re definitely some new places popping up since my last visit in Raja Ampat.
Because the title is how to travel cheap to Raja Ampat, then homestay is the recommendation. I think it’s the better choice because homestays are located in the small island.
Unlike some places to stay in Waisai like Arcopora and Dolphin (Rp 880,000/bungalow/4 persons), the ambiance is different because they’re not located right in front of sea.
Even it’s near with WTC (a beach in Waisai), believe me, WTC is not clean. I really recommend you to stay in homestays such as Yenkoranu homestay, Koranu Fyak Homestay, only Rp 250,000/person including 3x meals! (Update 2020: Rp 450,000/person)
You can coordinate with the contact person from the homestay to arrange boat to get to these small islands. Be ready, you can jump off directly in front of the beach and swim with thousand of big fishes even sharks!
In Sorong you can stay in Hotel Indah near Tembok Berlin (Rp 230,000/night) or Meridien Hotel just in front of the airport.
Entrance Fee to Raja Ampat
In order to protect the environment and marine life in Raja Ampat, visitors have to pay what the Environmental Service Fee, usually can be called as “PIN”.
Make sure to always keep this pin with you, sometimes they’ll check it. This permit is valid for 12 months. The price is:
- Rp 500,000 for domestic visitors
- Rp 1,000,000 for international visitors.
Boat for Hopping Island
You can organize your boat with the homestay’s owner. Normally they have their own boat. There are some types of boat in Raja Ampat. Long Boat is the cheapest one, then small speed boat fit to 10 persons, and the last is big speedboat can fit up to 30 people.
The price range differently depends on the route you want to take. For example, speedboat hopping around Mansuar and Gam area cost Rp 3,500,000/day, to Wayag Rp 7,050,000/day.
What if I go solo, not in a group? Don’t worry. That’s why keep asking the homestay owner if there’s another people has the same activity, you can join them.
Some homestays have a scheduled activity to go to some small islands. Like my friend, he only pays Rp 100,000 to Manta Point and around. If you want to rent a boat you can also call Pak Pandy : Guide+Speedboat Captain, very helpful : +6285243526835
Islands to Visit
Visit some villages such as Arborek, Sawingray, Yenbuba. Wayag is the most popular place to see what you see in google images when you type Raja Ampat (3 hours by speed from Waisai). But when I went here, there’s a problem between locals and government so we couldn’t visit Wayag.
Do not worry because there’s a similar place like Wayag, named Penemu/Pianemo Island. You can climb three limestone hills to see the spectacular view of small limestones and colorful gradation. Be sure to wear shoes and gloves because the trek is not long but spiky. Hopefully, their problem can be quickly solved.
For snorkeling, in front of Kri Resort is perfect, also Wayag. Corals might not be that good but fishes are so big and there are many of them. Manta Point is a must visit spot. Don’t be surprised to see sharks around because they won’t harm you unless you’re bleeding. Teluk Kabui has a cave where there’s still that unhatched egg inside. You can also do birdwatching in Waigeo.
Here’s a bit of explanation about the islands (reference):
A tiny sand cay, part of the government tourist’s village program. Therefore, this village offers better than average facilities. You can see school of fishes under the jetty. It’s pretty close to Manta Point and other snorkeling spots.
The beaches on Friwen’s northern shore are beautiful, and near the island’s western end is a spot with a huge overhanging tree and a couple of stalls selling drinks and snacks. A perfect place from which to enjoy the sunsets.
Gam is very hilly, and lots of sharp limestone and heavy jungle cover makes trekking in the interior extremely difficult. The southern coast of Gam provides some truly excellent snorkelling, but you do need to be aware of the very strong currents. You can also do birdwatching in the jungle here.
Kri’s attractions are its surrounding reefs, great beaches and the several homestay dive centers on the island. It’s one of the most popular island, you can find decent amount of homestays here.
Known for its rich reefs, long hikes are also possible, Mansuar’s jungles are home to a rich array of birds and other wildlife.
- Pam Islands
The Pam Islands are a long way from Waisai, but their beaches are definitely among the best Raja Ampat has to offer.
Read Also: Travel Guide to Ora Beach, Maluku
Diving at Raja Ampat
For your safety, better to go to that resort because some of other dive operators don’t really have the real dive master.
Travel budget estimation to Raja Ampat
Return flights : Rp 5,000,000
Boat Express return : Rp 250,000
Stay+3x meals (4 nights) : Rp 1,800,000
Hopping around Island : Rp 200,000-700,000 (in case to Wayag)
Marine Entrance Fee (PIN): Rp 500,000 for Indonesian, Rp 1,000,000 for non-Indonesian
Transportation : Rp 100,000
It’s definitely not as cheap as how it used to be. Back then in 2013, I spent only Rp 3million for return flights, the accommodation and also the entrance fee is much cheaper.
Raja Ampat is definitely one of the best place for underwater. Although I’m not a diver, I’ve seen so many different types of fishes that I’ve never seen before. Although the corals are not as perfect as Wakatobi Islands, in terms of the varieties of the fishes, it’s still the winner.
Traveled in 12-16 October 2013
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