Planning a diving holiday to Raja Ampat is not as easy as preparing an adventure to most other destinations. Raja Ampat is a remote area with not much to offer in terms of stores, ATM access and more. We love to help people plan their trip, and over the years we have heard many questions and concerns. We have gathered the most important information so those diving with us, and all travelers in general, can feel confident before heading out to the paradise islands of Raja Ampat.
Transportation: Getting from Sorong to the islands of Raja Ampat
Fly into Sorong (SOQ) airport (“Domine Eduard Osok Airport,” sometimes still called its old name “Jeffman Airport” on airfare websites). There are some direct flights from Jakarta to Sorong, but from other destinations around Indonesia there is usually a layover in Makassar on your way to Sorong.
Once you arrive at the airport take a taxi to the harbor. It usually costs 100.000 IDR. Otherwise you can walk out to the main road to try to catch a yellow bus taxi that usually costs 5.000 IDR per person (ask to go to the “pelabuhan ferry Raja Ampat” and be prepared to either pay extra for the taxi to be able to enter the ferry road, or be prepared to walk from the entrance of the harbor road to the ferry).
Buy a ticket for the ferry from Sorong to Waisai at the ticket office just before the road leading out the ferry. It costs 100.000 IDR per person for one way. The ferries from Sorong to Waisai leave at 9 am and 2 pm. The same is true for the ferry from Waisai back to Sorong--it leaves at 9 am and 2 pm everyday. The ferry is consistent but be aware if you’re traveling on a public holiday there could cancellations.
Once you arrive at the harbor in Waisai you will be directed by workers from the Homestay Association to the Tourist Information Desk. This is where you will pay the 1.000.000 IDR Marine Park Entrance Fee (They do have a credit card machine to pay this fee). Sometimes the office controlling this fee is not operating, so don't be surprised if they don't ask you to pay it, but we recommend being prepared just in case. The Homestay Association Workers will also help you find the correct speed boat captain. Just tell them the name of the homestay you’ll be staying at.
Speed boat transfers from Waisai to Kri (or any other island in Raja Ampat) should be arranged with your homestay before you arrive. Yenbuba Homestay charges 600.000 IDR per boat per direction (if there are 6 or more passengers the price is 800.000 IDR). This is a shared price among all passengers.
Payment: be prepared to bring idr cash
Nearly all homestays in Raja Ampat only accept IDR cash, unless you book on stayrajaampat.com. Keep in mind anything else you pay for once you're at the homestay, whether that's a ride to a nearby village or a fresh young coconut, you will be expected to pay in cash.
Our dive center accepts IDR cash or bank transfers to our Indonesian bank account at no extra charge. We also accept USD cash, Euro cash, PayPal payments and bank transfers (we have bank accounts in the USA and Europe)--but we ask a 3% charge for those forms of payment. We do ask a 30% deposit for the dives you’d like to do. You can send it via PayPal or bank transfer. If you’d like to cancel we can refund the payment 100% one month before your scheduled dives, 50% two weeks before and not at all after that--unless, of course, in case of illness or emergency.
Money Changer: You should be able to exchange money at some banks in Sorong. Just be aware of the bank’s hours and public holidays ( banks are closed during lunch 12-1 p.m. ) People often run out of time before catching the ferry, so we recommend changing money before you arrive in Sorong. You may feel uneasy carrying so much cash on you but Kri is a quiet island and we’ve never had any problems with theft for our guests at Yenbuba Homestay or at our dive center.
ATMs: There are ATMs both in Waisai and Sorong. The issue some travelers run into is a daily withdrawal limit--whether the total you try to withdraw or the number of times you can withdraw per day. Most ATMs in Indonesia only dispense 6.000.000 IDR, and it’s true that most commonly people complain about only being able to withdraw 3.000.000 twice per day.
We've written a blog post with an in-depth packing list, but if you want the essentials keep reading. You can buy a Telkomsel sim card in Sorong or Waisai. Ask a taxi or ojek (motorbike taxi) to take you to a “kantor Telkomsel.” It normally costs 150.000 IDR for a new sim card and 12 GB of data--which is more than enough for a month usually. We do get pretty decent 4G signal at Soul Scuba Divers on Kri.
Bring waterproof bags with you. You can get quite wet during boat trips or transfers between different islands.
Bring a reusable water bottle with you! There are water gallons at all of the homestays to fill up with.
If you want to buy beer, other drinks and snacks, we recommend going to Saga supermarket in Sorong. They sell boxes of 24 large cans of Bintang beer for about 835.000 IDR. In Waisai you can also find drinks and snacks but sometimes the shops selling beer is closed. The box of large Bintang beer in Waisai is usually 1.320.000 IDR. In the Yenbuba village, about 5 minutes away from Yenbuba Homestay by boat, you can find beer for 60.000 IDR per large can. FYI: in order to avoid rats in your room please ask us--or whatever homestay you’re staying at--to store snacks in a plastic box to prevent rats from entering your room.
Please pack reef safe sunscreen with you. We ask our divers to respect is to only use reef safe sunscreen before diving with us. We often have small bottles of reef safe sunscreen for sale, but our resources are limited. There are no reef safe sunscreens available in Waisai or Sorong. If you’d like to learn about how non reef safe sunscreen is damaging coral reefs, check out this article: https://www.chasingcoral.com/2018/05/23/reef-safe-sunscreen-need-know/
Pack mosquito repellent and/or antimalarial medicine with you as there is malaria present in West Papua.
Check out the “Raja Ampat Health and Medical FAQ” page on stayrajaampat.com for more medical advice.
Remember Raja Ampat is a remote place; pack your own first aid kits and hygiene products as the variety of products available in Waisai and Sorong are limited. FYI for women: there are no tampons available in Waisai or Sorong. There are no “bio” soaps or shampoos.
We recommend buying any dive or snorkeling gear before arriving as it’s hard to find gear for purchase in Sorong or Raja Ampat. We only rent gear for diving, we don’t rent out any gear for snorkeling.
Your Homestay: What to Expect
At most of the homestays in Raja Ampat, including Yenbuba Homestay, there are shared bathrooms. There is no hot water. Electricity is only available when the generator is on: between sunset (6:30 pm) and around 1 am. All of the rooms have at least two power sockets (compatible with the round 2-prong plugs most common in Europe). At Yenbuba Homestay all rooms are equipped with a fan and lights inside the room and out on the terrace and a hammock. The new overwater bungalows also have a couch and table and the classic overwater bungalows and beach bungalows have a table and chairs. The new overwater bungalows have two double beds, while all the rest of the bungalows have one double bed.
Breakfast is served at 7 am, lunch at 12 pm and dinner at 7 pm. If you’re vegetarian or allergic to something I’d recommend translating this to Indonesian and writing it down in order to be sure to communicate with your cooks.
You can do laundry at the homestay at a washing station or you can ask one of the staff to do your laundry (50.000 IDR for one load).
Please be aware that homestays are community environments. Apart from your bungalows, where you will have complete privacy, bathrooms, dining rooms and other places are all shared. Please be respectful to other guests and the families that also live on the property of their homestay.
Meals are served family style. Please be conscientious of the number of plates that the cooks set out on the “buffet table,” in order to know how many guests are eating dinner so that there is enough for everyone. The cooks should prepare more than enough food for each guest, if not please speak with the manager or the cooks and explain that they need to cook more. The cooks appreciate if you can be on time for meals to keep their clean up routine on schedule (the ladies in the kitchen work very hard!).
Many people go to bed early in Raja Ampat--please don’t make too much noise after dinner.
Please rinse your feet or remove your shoes in order to prevent bringing sand into the dining room, dive center, jetties, etc.
Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any other questions!