If you’ve landed here, you’ve heard about ‘The Last Paradise’ and also our favourite place on earth.
But before we start let’s make it clear that Raja Ampat is a HIDDEN GEM and hidden gems aren’t easy to get to or full of luxury. Raja Ampat is for the adventurous. You don’t want to go here if you just want to lie in a resort and enjoy the sun. You want to go here if you’re an explorer, want to see things people have never seen before and as well as enjoying the sun and the sea, will dive deep into the unknown to uncover some of the most beautiful things in the world!
If you’re in.. welcome to the captivating worl7d of Raja Ampat, also known as ‘The Last Paradise.’ During our unforgettable 10-night stay in this breathtaking destination, we discovered why it holds such a prestigious title. The vibrant coral reefs, turquoise waters, and lush greenery combine to create a living masterpiece. In this blog, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about Raja Ampat, from its essence and how to reach it, to the best accommodations and budget tips. There is hardly any accurate information online so let this blog be your bible!
Prepare yourself for an extraordinary underwater adventure, as you dive or snorkel through an enchanting kaleidoscope of marine life you’ve never witnessed before. But the wonders don’t end there. Trek through dense jungles, following the sweet melodies of chirping birds, and uncover hidden waterfalls and secret lagoons. Even the locals have only explored a fraction of this archipelago, but with our insider advice, you’ll have the chance to spot gigantic Oceanic Manta Rays, even when people say they’re not in season!
Rest assured, we have you covered with all the essential information to plan your trip and make the most of your time in this mesmerising paradise. Get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through Raja Ampat, where nature’s wonders await your discovery!
What is Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat is an exquisite archipelago located in the West Papua province of Indonesia. Comprising over 1,500 small islands, Raja Ampat is renowned for its unparalleled natural beauty and incredible marine biodiversity. The name “Raja Ampat” translates to “Four Kings,” representing the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo. This remote destination is often referred to as “The Last Paradise” due to its pristine coral reefs, turquoise waters, dense rainforests, and stunning limestone karsts. Raja Ampat offers a captivating blend of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant underwater ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage, making it a dream destination for nature enthusiasts, divers, and adventurers seeking an untouched slice of paradise.
You may have heard of the Coral Triangle which is made up of 6 countries, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Solomon Islands, Papa New Guinea and East Timor! The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, i.e. everything unusual lives here! And Raja Ampat is not only within the coral triangle, but has also recorded the highest marine life diversity on Earth, according to Conservation International.
Places don’t get much better than this!
How to get there?
This is the tricky part! Getting to this remote paradise typically involves a combination of flights and boats but trust us it’s worth it. We’ll break it all down here!
- Book a flight to Jakarta Airport (CGK) (you could try and fly directly to Manado or Makassar but those flights are limited to which country you are flying from).
- Book a non-stop flight from Jakarta (CGK) to Sorong (this flight is only 2-3 times a day) by Batik Air, Lion Air or Garuda Indonesia.
Cost: ~$300 per person depending on when you visit
Flight duration: 4 hours.
These flights will bring you into Sorong at 10am or 12.45pm so if you do decide to take this flight, remember to right off the day for travel.
- OR Book a connecting flight from Jakarta (CGK) to Sorong (SOQ) via Makassar (UPG).
Cost: ~$200 per person depending on when you visit
Flight duration: 6-7 hours with a 1 hour stop in Makassar
Note: this is an overnight flight on a budget airline so you won’t get much sleep. We did take this route and were pretty tired for the first 2 days of our trip. So it may be worth booking in advance and getting the direct flight out!
Once you have arrived in Sorong you need to jump on the ferry from Sorong to Wasai. The ferry leaves twice a day at 9am and at 2pm so make sure you plan accordingly.
It will take you 15-20 minutes to get to the port so you’ll have more than enough time to get your bags and head to the port. Make sure you don’t pay more than 100,000 IDR to get from the airport to the port, you need to haggle down as everything is normally quoted double in Asia.
TIP: Sorong time zone is 1 hour ahead of Makassar and Jakarta. This threw us off a bit so make sure you note this!
You can buy your ferry tickets at the port. Try and grab something before the ferry as you can get some small snacks on board but nothing substantial.
Duration: 2-3 hours to get to Wasai
Cost: Economy seats are 100,000 IDR per person and the VIP seats are 220,000 IDR per person.
The only difference really is the aircon and the reclining seats but to be totally honest, both classes are as busy as each other. We travelled in the economy seats and the ride was absolutely fine!
TIP: Sorong time zone is 1 hour ahead of Makassar and Jakarta. This threw us off a bit so make sure you note this!
You’ve arrived in Wasai and it definitely doesn’t seem like the Raja Ampat you see on Instagram or on Google. Don’t fret, you’re not there yet. Remember, to get to hidden gems requires a bit of effort, so you have one more hurdle to jump over before you enter the true LAST PARADISE.
Head out of the jetty through the gates, stay to your left and you’ll see a smaller jetty with local boats. You will see a tourist information building where you will need to go in, show your passport, register your name and pay a 1,000,000 IDR environmental permit fee. You need to pay this fee regardless of whether you are on a tour or not, so there’s no getting around it!
The permit is valid for the whole year, so if you plan on coming back you only pay once!
TIP: Before arriving most of you will have a rough plan on where you are going next. At this point you will have a driver waiting for you. If not, the tourist centre can show you a range of the homestays and organise your transport.
THIS IS NOT CHEAPER. This is not one of those places where things are cheaper on arrival, we promise you, you will end up paying more if you don’t book in advance.
Things to know before you go:
- Phone signal is VERY limited in Raja Ampat. So be prepared with downloaded programmes, sending messages to loved ones!
- Electricity is only available between 6pm and 2am in most homestays. A lot of the time electricity goes out and the generator isn’t working so be sure to pack the following:
- Battery Pack
- Reading Book
- Head Torch
- Multi Charge Plug
- You will experience all types of terrain from hiking, diving, snorkelling so make sure you pack water shoes, snorkelling gear, microfibre towel, trainers.
- There are no pharmacies and although homestays may have some medical items, make sure you carry your own. We travel around with a mini first aid kit!
- You’ll be on a boat most of the time so if you suffer from sea sickness, make sure you get some sea sickness tablets.
- It’s VERY rare you will get a chance to go to the villages. If you do, the villages also don’t have many cold drinks, or even cold water. So get a vacuum water flask to keep water as chilled as possible and grab some snacks before leaving Wasai! Meals are very filling but you may want something to snack on in between.
- Mosquitoes are very common out here, we took some coils and lit them on the balcony in our homestays and repellent.
The accommodation on Raja Ampat is not luxurious by any means. But that is why we said the trip is for the adventurous!
There are some homestays with private bathrooms and some with shared bathrooms. What you choose really depends on where you want to be, what you want to see and also down to budgets. Some of the most BEAUTIFUL locations have the least luxurious homestays.
Visit Stay Raja Ampat to explore all the places you can stay at and their direct contacts.
Here are our top 3 homestays to consider when booking your trip:
Kamar Raja Homestay:
This is a great homestay if you’re planning on visiting Wayag Peak. The homestay is somewhat closer to Wayag Peak but more than anything it has one of the most beautiful house reefs we have ever seen! We woke up and saw baby black tip sharks playing in front of our bungalow!
The bungalows have private en-suite bathrooms and they are based on one of the most beautiful secluded sandy beaches.
The food is delicious here and they BBQ fresh fish everyday!
There is no in-house diving shop here.
Rufus Island Homestay:
This one is a little more well known because of Instagram but is still a great homestay! The bathroom is shared but there are 2 bathrooms for the handful of bungalows so not an issue at all!
The setting of the homestay is definitely what attracts people here. There is a short hike up to a gorgeous decking for sunset, you can snorkel in and around the beautiful lagoon, and you’re not far from beautiful landscape views at Piyanemo (the smaller Wayag Peak).
You even get some phone signal out here!
Our FAVOURITE homestay. Where do we even begin. The team here are outstanding, the meals are incredible and the beds were really comfortable! The bathroom is shared but still absolutely fine!
You will be very close to an awesome Manta Ray diving spot – where we saw oceanic mantas even when they were supposedly out of season. You’re also very close to a pearl farm, where you can go and have a look around at how they grow pearls and buy some at cost price too!
This homestay have a dive shop and our instructor was from the pearl farm and was fabulous!
Don’t forget to ask Dayan to show you the Dugong skulls he has collected and also to take you to Secret Garden snorkelling spot. It’s one of the most beautiful in the world.
Here’s a little about who we are and why we do what we do!
Anish and I run UNDISCVERED; your ultimate digital wingman for exploring the world like a local. But we’re not just your average travel guide, we’re like your best friend who knows all the insider secrets of every destination.
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