Raja Ampat has long been known for its underwater beauty. In addition, there are still small islands in the form of mushrooms, karst hills, and others. No wonder so many travelers express their goals on their bucketlist. This beautiful region is located in the northwest of ‘bird’s head’ Papua, West Papua. Several times to Raja Ampat did not make contributors, I am, satisfied with the destinations that are listed in the CNN version of the best places in Asia. Without more words, let’s look at the narrative below.
Raja Ampat Travel Tips You Have To Do
Preparation for Raja Ampat
Like the previous Raja Ampat trip, that morning I arrived early in Sorong. Early flights are more suitable because there is still time for breakfast and shopping before heading to the port. Misool and Wayag are the two main destinations in Raja Ampat. Misoolada in the southern region is close to Maluku, while Wayag is in the north, directly adjacent to the Pacific Ocean.
Bahari Express ships from Sorong to Misool depart three times a week, namely Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The ticket price is Rp 250,000 for economy class, with seat facilities per person, air conditioning, and TV. While the ship from Sorong to Waisai for a trip to Wayag departs every day at nine in the morning and two in the afternoon.
In Misool, I stayed at Nut Homestay, the only floating accommodation with 12 rooms and two bungalows. For Friends Traveler who likes to snorkel, this homestay is perfect because it can directly splash in front of the room. The coral reefs are still natural, many soft corals, table corals, starfish, and various types of fish ranging from napoleon, clownfish, to baby sharks.
Ideally, it takes a minimum of four days and three nights in Misool to explore the cool places here. The first and last day is usually for in-out transfers only. For the first day, places that can be visited include Namnol, Balbuol, Dafalen, Yapap, and snorkeling around the homestay. While on the second day, we can go to Love Hill, Keramat Cave, and Jellyfish Lake. The order of this itinerary can change depending on the weather.
After four days in Misool, I returned to Sorong for an overnight break and bought a number of necessities before heading to Wayag. For accommodation, there are many choices of hotels in Sorong, ranging from jasmine classes at Rp 250 thousand per night to star hotels such as Swiss-Belhotel, Fave Hotel, and Mamberamo Hotel.
Wayag is more crowded by tourists than Misool. Apart from the closer distance, the weather in the region also tends to be friendlier. Plus, the waves aren’t too big. Infrastructure, facilities, and accommodations in Wayag are also more adequate, and there is even a Marinda airport in Waisai that serves Raja Ampat – Sorong flights by Wings Air and Susi Air.
To explore cool places in Wayag, the best option is to rent a speedboat from Misool that can fit up to 18 people. The first spot I visited on my way to Wayag was Sawandarek. The island is quite famous as a place for coral reef conservation as well as snorkeling spots, free diving, and canoeing around the pier.
After getting wet in Sawandarek, the journey continues to Pianemo, the most popular spot in Raja Ampat. Here there are two viewpoint locations, namely the lake of stars and the peak of Pianemo. From these two hilltops, we can enjoy the view of the turquoise sea with the small islands around it which are typical views of Raja Ampat.
The second day at Wayag, I continued my journey to the top of Wayag 1 and Wayag 2. The trekking tracks at these two locations were rocky and quite steep. We recommend wearing shoes or mountain sandals and gloves as a protector. Tiredness, fatigue, and heat from the sun will pay off with an awesome view from the top of the hill. The peak is higher than Pianemo, tourists can enjoy the views of the Raja Ampat landscape with more beautiful because of the many hills, beaches and small islands around it.
On the last day at Wayag, two places that can be visited before returning to Sorong are Arborek and the island of arising sand. In Arborek there is a pilot village in Raja Ampat marine tourism management. On this island there is a children’s reading park, elementary school, church, and a number of homestays. As the name implies, this island can only be visited when the tide is low, with a sloping beach and extending to the middle of the sea as an instagramable photo spot.
The best time to Raja Ampat
Plan your trip between November and April. Avoid the June to October period due to big waves and bad weather, especially Misool which is affected by the south wind. May is a transition period, the weather is difficult to guess. Quite often a storm suddenly comes. If forced to go to Raja Ampat in the middle of the year, Wayag could be an alternative because the weather is relatively friendlier than Misool.
Route to Raja Ampat
Sorong is the entrance of Raja Ampat via air, sea and land. Several airlines currently have direct flights from Jakarta – Sorong with normal PP ticket prices of around Rp 4 million. After arriving in Sorong, the journey continues towards Misool or Wayag. To go to Misool, the only means of transportation is by sea, namely by Bahari express (crossing for 4 hours) or ferry (8 to 9 hours).
As for Wayag, there are currently flights from Sorong to Raja Ampat on Wings Air and Susi Air, alight at Marinda Waisai Airport. If you want to use the sea route, the choice is the Bahari Express ship or rent a speedboat from Sorong, with a crossing time of about two hours.
Accommodation in Misool and Wayag
In the Misool area, homestay accommodation in the form of modest residential houses is around the Port of Yelu. But for those who want a more comfortable atmosphere, there are semi resorts on the beach or over the sea. One option is Nut, with rates per night starting from Rp. 400 thousand to Rp. 750 thousand rupiah, including meals three times a day.
As for Wayag, there are many lodging options in Waisai with prices starting at Rp. 200 thousand per night for two people. If you want the atmosphere of the island and the beach, the choice is a resort in Waigeo, Mansuar, Kabui, and Salio. Lodging prices per night start from IDR 350 thousand to IDR 650 thousand per person, including meals three times a day.
Gifts from Raja Ampat
In several locations in Wayag such as in Pianemo, Arborek, and Waisai, we can meet Papuan handicraft souvenir sellers such as bags, key chains, and t-shirts. If you want to look for more complete souvenirs, of course there is in Sorong. Some souvenirs that are sought after by tourists include handicrafts, batik, Papua coffee, to shredded bread rolls and Sorong typical taro chips.
Culinary in Raja Ampat
Misool and Wayag are the biggest fish producing areas in Raja Ampat. The catch of the fish here is guaranteed fresh because it was only caught in the afternoon or evening, before cooking for dinner. Seafood fans will be spoiled with a variety of processed grilled fish ranging from grouper, red snapper, barracuda, and several other types of consumption fish. Not to forget the crab walnuts and lobster. We can also request papeda, a typical Papuan food made from sago.
Tips Before vacation to Raja Ampat
- Every traveler must purchase Raja Ampat’s pin / tag as an environmental service charge that is valid for one year. The price of a pin for Indonesian citizens is Rp. 500 thousand, for foreigners Rp. 1 million. This pin is also a sign of entry into the Raja Ampat Marine Park area.
- If you rent a speedboat, make sure the engine is in good condition and an experienced crew to get around Raja Ampat.
Activities in Raja Ampat consist mainly of snorkeling and hill climbing
- Bring personal needs such as dry bags, sunblock, mosquito repellent lotion, mountain sandals or shoes, gloves, snorkeling gear complete with fins, and a waterproof camera. For those who do diving trips, check the feasibility of diving equipment and choose an experienced dive operator.
- Maintain body condition while in Raja Ampat by drinking plenty of water, consumption of vitamin C and fresh fruits. Maximize rest time well, reduce staying up late at night because during the day full activities around the islands, both in Misool and Wayag.
- Food in Raja Ampat is mostly seafood. For those who have abstinence or allergies, bring shredded, dried chili, or other favorite menus. Also bring personal medicines because it will be difficult to find a pharmacy or drug store during the trip, except in Waisai and Sorong.
The only way is to rent a speedboat. The rent for going to Wayag is around Rp. 25 million, while the rent around Misool per day is around Rp. 4 to 6 million. Because of the high cost of rent, we have to go in a group, ideally between 10 and 18 people.
- Try to avoid inequality or age gap and too much interest in one group. For example in one group, the majority of fans of snorkeling and free diving, this will make it easier to arrange time and activities while in Raja Ampat.
- Itinerary is flexible because it is very dependent on the weather and waves. Itinerary changes are common as long as there is coordination between tour operators, speedboat crews and tour participants.
- Don’t expect too many signals or cellular networks while in Raja Ampat – especially Misool, because the small islands visited are in the middle of the ocean. There are signal opportunities in several Wayag spots such as Pianemo, Sawandarek, and Arborek.
Budget vacation to Raja Ampat
This question most often arises because up to now Raja Ampat is still synonymous with the word ‘expensive’. The estimated budget per person to Raja Ampat for non-divers ranges from Rp 6-7 million per person, with an estimated number of participants of 10-18 people and duration of seven days in Raja Ampat (four days in Misool and three days in Wayag). This fee does not include airplane tickets.
Tips to reduce the budget in Raja Ampat
- Go in a group or open trip that has a specified date, a minimum of 10 people. Ideally 14-18 people according to speedboat capacity.
- Avoid high season (school holidays, holidays and New Year’s) in anticipation of the many other participants at one spot in Raja Ampat. In addition, booking homestays, speedboats, and plane tickets will be easier and cheaper during low season.
- Because of the long journey and the cost is not small, unfortunately if only to Misool or Wayag only. Visit both at a time to Raja Ampat because each of these destinations has its own character and uniqueness.
Congratulations on planning a vacation to Raja Ampat, a fragment of the Nusantara paradise at the western end of Papua.