Raja Ampat: the paradise of West Papua, Indonesia

Raja Ampat – The Last Paradise on Earth. And really, it is totally worthy of that title. For us, it ranks as the very best destination we have ever visited. Not only because of the breathtaking marine life and lush rainforests, but also because of the local people and unspoiled charm of this archipelago.

Paradise these days often means luxury resorts, Instagram hotspots and trendy eateries. But in the Raja Ampat Islands, it’s different! Here you live without wifi and barefoot, enjoying local cuisine, exploring the underwater world with snorkeling or diving, and diving into bed early! Curious about our tips? Keep reading!

Where is Raja Ampat located?

Although the name “Raja Ampat” means four kings, this archipelago consists of more than 1,500 small islands. It is quite a journey to get there, as the archipelago lies off the northwest coast of West Papua, the easternmost part of Indonesia. The area has remained so pristine because it is a huge 9,000-square-kilometer protected area. Not only are the islands covered by this protection, but the underwater world is also protected from overfishing and destructive fishing techniques such as dynamite fishing. Consequently, this area often tops the list of the most beautiful dive sites in the world. Visiting Raja Ampat requires a permit, which costs 50 euros. This money will be used to preserve the park.

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raja ampat islands
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How to get to Raja Ampat?

To reach the islands, you must first fly to Sorong. From there, there are two daily ferries to Waigeo, where you will be picked up by your accommodation.

Flying to Sorong
Raja Ampat is accessible from the port of Sorong in West Papua. There are no direct flights from Europe to West Papua, so you always have to fly to Jakarta, Makassar or Bali first. The last two are the cheapest options. If you don’t mind an extra transfer and want to save some money, you can also look at tickets to Kuala Lumpur. Return tickets to this city are often available for as little as 550 euros. From Kuala Lumpur you can then fly cheaply again to Bali (80 Euros) or Makassar (150 Euros). From these locations, you can buy return tickets for about 250 euros. So a return ticket to Sorong costs about 900 – 1000 euros (if you are flexible).

To reach Sorong from the Netherlands, you’ll spend about 20 – 30 hours on the road, including transfers (yes, you have to have something to spare for paradise). Also read the article, “What Does Raja Ampat Cost!”

Tip! Book an overnight stay in Sorong for the first day, as flight delays may occur.

Ferry to Waigeo
The ferry departs from Sorong to Waigeo twice a day, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and costs 125,000 (about 8 euros). The ferry takes about 2 hours. With your homestay or accommodation, you can arrange for them to pick you up at Waigeo with a local boat. Depending on the location of your stay, you will be another 1 – 3 hours on the road to your accommodation and cost 40 – 100 euros.

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The various Raja Ampat islands

The most popular islands to stay in Raja Ampat are Waigeo, Kri, Gam, Batanta, Misool and Mansuar.

Waigeo: Starting point of your Raja Ampat adventure

Waigeo is the first island to arrive by ferry from Sorong. We found this island itself somewhat less interesting to visit.

Misool: Exclusive and remote

Misool is truly exclusive because it is difficult to reach and there is only one luxury resort with a huge waiting list. If you are traveling on a small budget, then this is not the island for you. If you would like to visit Misool, you should plan ahead before your trip.

Kri, Gam and Mansuar: Ideal base

Kri, Gam and Mansuar are about an hour’s boat ride from Waigeo and are great islands to stay on. From here you can easily explore much of Raja Ampat.

Batanta: For the most unique experience

Batanta is known for its lush rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. The island is a bit more remote, but well worth exploring. Also read our article “The most beautiful islands of Raja Ampat.”

Tip! It’s fun to visit several islands, but you don’t necessarily have to spend the night there. We recommend staying on 2-3 islands at most.

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Best travel time Raja Ampat

The best time to visit Raja Ampat is from October to April, but the weather in Raja Ampat remains somewhat unpredictable each month. We were there in March and experienced quite a few rain showers (fortunately mostly short).For diving, December to March are ideal, with calm seas and good visibility. From May to September there is less plankton, so better visibility, but the chances of spotting manta rays and whale sharks are lower.

How many days do I need to visit Raja Ampat

We recommend planning at least 7 days for Raja Ampat, as you already need 2 travel days from Sorong to Waigeo and back. But staying longer is, of course, also great! We ended up spending 2 weeks there and it was perfect for us. Plenty of time to do all sorts of things: diving, snorkeling, and chilling at our cabin. Enjoy reading a book, relaxing and, of course, catching those amazing sunsets.

What to do in Raja Ampat

If you travel to Raja Ampat, you will probably come there to dive or snorkel. In fact, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth to dive. The coral in Raja Ampat is unparalleled and you can spot the most unusual animals, including wobbegong sharks, running sharks, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, as well as nudibranchs, crocodile fish and more. Also read “10x what not to miss in Raja Ampat”.

Fancy something different:

  • Take a trip to a local village
  • Hike to the most beautiful viewpoints
  • Go into the jungle in search of the extraordinary bird of paradise
  • Take a kayaking trip through the beautiful landscapes of West Papua

 

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raja ampat
raja ampat islands

Raja Ampat’s most beautiful homestays and resorts

Homestays are your ticket to affordable adventure in Raja Ampat, but be prepared for basic comfort – think a simple mattress on the floor and shared bathrooms. Also, not all homestays have Western-style toilets. For about 60-80 euros a night for two people, you get an authentic experience here, including meals plus coffee, tea and water. Almost all homestays you can book through Stayrajaampat , but there is also part on booking.com.

For those who want to immerse themselves in luxury, there are some breathtaking resorts that offer you an unparalleled experience. But these exclusive spots do come with a hefty price tag – think rates between 150-600 euros per night, including meals and drinks for 2 people.

We ended up choosing to spend part of our trip at homestays and the last few days at a more luxurious resort. We chose Biodiversity, as they also offer budget rooms for 160 euros per night including snacks, meals and drinks.

These are our favorite accommodations (prices per 2 people):

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In short, this is one of Indonesia’s most extraordinary destinations. This part of Indonesia offers unparalleled nature and unique culture. For us, it is absolutely the last paradise on earth! Traveling to the Raja Ampat Islands may take some effort, but this experience makes up for everything! Want more information? Coming soon is our Raja Ampat travel guide. Sign up now to stay informed.

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