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.
Flight to Raja Ampat
Normally people fly from Jakarta to Sorong by Merpati Airlines. Cheapest one, around RP 3,000,000 for return flight and fly around 5 hours. But, I suggest you to take separated flight. Air Asia often give promotion from Jakarta to Makassar, normally cost Rp 400,000 even cheaper. Then from Makassar you can take Merpati which costs around Rp 600,000-700,000. You can save more if you take separated airlines.
Note: Since February 2014, my both favorite airline AirAsia and Merpati had stopped operating their flight to Makassar and Sorong, so normal price for now is Rp 4,000,000 for return flights 🙁
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 before around 5 kms and cost me only Rp 15,000. It’s very easy to take ojek from airport or if you’re in a group you can rent car for Rp 100,000-200,000 to the port. Sorong to Waisai can be reached by express boat (Rp 130,000) at 2 p.m. Journey takes around 2 hours. From Waisai, rent a car to your accommodation.
Where to Stay in Raja Ampat
You can choose whatever kind of places you want to stay starts from homestay or resort. Because the title is how to travel cheap to Raja Ampat, then homestay is the recommendation. I think it’s the better choice as well 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, believe me, WTC is very unclean. I really recommend you to stay in homestays such as Yenkoranu homestay, Koranu Fyak Homestay, only Rp 250,000/person including 3x meals!
And of course, you can jump off directly in front of the beach and swim with thousand of big fishes even sharks! More information about homestay, go to this site.
In Sorong you can stay in Hotel Indah near Tembok Berlin (Rp 230,000/night) or Meridien Hotel just in front of the airport and also buying PIN (Rp 400,000/night).
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.
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.
Boat Express return : Rp 260,000
Stay+3x meals (4 nights) : Rp 1,000,000
Hopping around Island : Rp 200,000-700,000 (in case to Wayag)
Marine Entrance Fee (PIN): Rp 250,000 for Indonesian, Rp 500,000 for non-Indonesian
Transportation : Rp 100,000
See? How cheap it is.
Traveled in 12-16 October 2013
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