GETTING THERE, AND WHAT TO BRING
The Islands of Raja Ampat are about 72 kilometres off a city called Sorong on the coast of Indonesian Papua. Jump onto Skyscanner and you will see a range of daily flights departing say Bali or Jakarta from 65 to 150 Euros. Most of these flights leave late in the evening, then stop over at a transit airport in Makassar or Manado, and get you to Sorong, a bit red-eyed near 7am.
The overnighter is dull, but by 9am you can start dozing off in the seat of a big fast ferry taking you to the island port of Waisai, where we pick you up. The overnighter leg is an advantage if short on time, you as can arrive at Jakarta or Bali in the day or evening before, and be on the boat by the next day’s lunchtime.
It’s only 10 to 15 minutes from airport to seaport, and taxis, bikes and vans do the rounds hungrily. Tickets to from Sorong to Waisai are sold at the dockside ferry ticket counters, and at the end of an ‘L’ shaped dock are the big fast ferries that blast you to Waisai for 8 Euros. These arrive before midday at the port hub for the islands. We meet you at the ferry arrival hall where the Park fees are paid.
Flying back to Bali or Jakarta is easy as the flights out are in daylight hours. The ferry return from Waisia leaves at 1400, and gets to Sarong 3 hours later. Staying overnight in Sorong is fine with all accommodation price points available, it’s a mid-sized, safe, long waterfront town, nothing special here, but all good for a morning or evening stroll.
If you have paid a deposit, if you bring your balance in cash, or pay via agent, or transfer. You need very little once aboard. It’s equatorial, so the lightest of clothing is the best. Clothes that get wet and dry fast are handy. It’s rarely cold. Bring something, anything to protect your feet when walking in water, and the short but steep climbs up the craggy limestone hills need something more than thongs. Some coconut oil is always handy, and while mosi’s are rare, the odd one can be annoying. Sun is relentless at midday, but we are well shaded except on dinghy trips, so a hat is important, and maybe a rashy vest and sunscreen. It can rain sure, but it’s never cold, so something light and plastic is an option.
We urge you to consider your own swim mask, just for comfort, but we provide masks and fins. If you have a drone, or want to get one, bring it for sure, the footage here will be wonderful. If you are new to drones, we can help you learn how not to drown it. Go Pros are a hit here. We have 220v power onboard by day, so charge away. No need for bedding, and we provide it plus bath towels, but a beach towel or sarong never goes astray.
Skin breaks in the tropics are a nuisance, so a tiny bottle of peroxide is handy, and if you are nervous, bring an antibiotic pill or powder in case that cut gets infected. Bandwidth in the islands is lousy, but sms and voice is semi- possible, so think digital detox. We love it if you load your memory sticks with music to share, or load your phone and we will connect you in. We are enthusiastic music players, and we love diversity. Booze is impossibly expensive in RA and so bring what you like, no corkage, and we will provide Bintang beers, but we must pay a small fortune for them ourselves.
The big one to remember is the Park Entrance fee of 1,000,000 Indonesia rupiah. The boat enters a "park within a park" at Wayag, Pianemo and Kabui bay. At Kabui and Pianemo locals have built wharfs and staircases for summit views and they charge boat guests to stay and play at approximately 250,000IDR per guest charged to the boat as one group. All told the Park fees add up to €75 per person, and this is used by a raft of conservation groups and causes, including compensation to villages to end fishing, forestry and mining. It also funds protection teams, and in poor communities where conservation is a struggle, we hope after a visit you will feel the €75 was worth contributing...you decide. The fee for the ‘PIN” is paid at the ferry arrival wharf in Waisai where we meet, and we get checked at few places so everyone needs those ‘PIN’ tags please.
Day 7 and we wake alongside the Friwen village jetty after a final dinner party on the wharf the night before, and it’s off in the tenders to explore the canyon where Alfred Wallace made his camp, or a swim along the coral gardens of Friwen. The 1400 Waisai ferry gets those of us needing to return to Sorong, back near 5pm, and anyone wanting to stay a few more days at a quiet island homestay has a big range of choice on, or near Friwen Island.
We have SUP boards and kayak available free, and if you are a freediver, bring those monster fins.