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Raja Ampat: A Travel Guide To Indonesia’s Secret Paradise

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Piaynemo, Raja Ampat
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Ready to explore Raja Ampat, Indonesia? This travel guide will help make your trip stress free!

Raja Ampat, Indonesia is home to some of the most beautiful islands on the planet. There’s spectacular snorkelling and diving, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Isn’t it time you explored this secret corner of paradise?

Raja Ampat islands - clusters of small islands that are so beautiful

Raja Ampat islands – clusters of small islands that are so beautiful

Raja Ampat isn’t like anywhere else on the planet. Well, not that I’ve been to yet anyway. It’s raw, rugged and the closest thing to paradise that I’ve found.

Above the ground exotic birds call to each other, gigantic colourful butterflies flutter by, and hermit crabs dance along the sand.

Below sea level majestic lion fish prowl through the waters past tropical fish, purple pufferfish, turtles, dolphins and sharks.

These Indonesian waters are the most biodiverse in the world, and if you pop your head under for a moment you’ll be amazed at what you find.

Along with stunning landscapes, incredible snorkelling, diving and endless sunshine, there’s a heart and soul to this region of Indonesia. The people. The people with smiles on their faces. People who have no doubt been through some serious hardships given the tricky political situation in West Papua.

But they were open, welcoming, and made our experience extra special.

The kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

The kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

So forget Bali and the Gili Islands, let’s go on an adventure to Indonesia’s secret paradise… Raja Ampat.

Where Is Raja Ampat?

Raja Ampat is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands located off the coast of West Papua, north-east of Java and Bali.Click around this Raja Ampat map to get your bearings!

How Do You Get To Raja Ampat?

The journey isn’t simple, so you do have to work for your paradise adventure!

  • From Jakarta, fly to Sorong (4 hour 5mins). Some flights will go via Makassar.
  • From Sorong, take a taxi to the harbour (15 mins).
  • Once at the harbour take the Bahari Express ferry to Waisai, which is located on the island of Waigeo. The express ferry takes 2 hours.
  • From there you’ll need to arrange a taxi boat with your Raja Ampat accommodation. Most homestays and hotels will organise your transfers.
Bahari Express ferry from Sorong to Waisai

Bahari Express ferry from Sorong to Waisai

Things To Do In Raja Ampat

Diving and Snorkelling In Raja Ampat

The diving and snorkelling in Raja Ampat is said to be among the best in the world with over 1,400 species of fish enjoying its reef. It’s often top of peoples scuba bucket lists!

Snorkelling in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Snorkelling in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Snorkelling with lion fish in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Snorkelling with lion fish in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Fish in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Fish in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

While staying at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge I snorkelled from the end of the pier and saw a plethora of tropical fish including angelfish, needlefish, several lionfish, batfish, and even a purple pufferfish. In the evenings we spotted walking sharks close to the shore. The coral was beautiful too.

Also in the incredibly diverse waters are bluefin jacks, manta rays, grey reef sharks, blacktips and whitetips along with the elusive wobbegong – a type of shark that’s only found in this region. The Raja Ampat diving is truly off the scale!

After a long day in the water, there’s no better way to unwind than by watching one of Raja Ampat’s incredible sunsets.

Perfect sunset in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Perfect sunset in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Amazing sunsets in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Amazing sunsets in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Visiting Islands In Raja Ampat

A visit to Arborek really is a must! The island is open to tourism with kids greeting visitors with traditional dances and a tour of the village. It’s a tiny place with around 200 residents, a school, church, a few homestays and basic stores.

It’s a picture-perfect paradise island with no cars, a few colourful boats, and bright yellow and blue fencing. I fell a little bit in love!

Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

The kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

The kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

Sign at Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Sign in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Meeting the kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Meeting the kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Kids dancing in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Kids dancing in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Meeting the kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Meeting the kids in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Sign in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat
Sign in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

Visit Piaynemo – Stunning Small Islands In Raja Ampat

This is the famous view of Raja Ampat. I’d seen photos before visiting and assumed they must have been photoshopped… but no. It really was as magical as I’d hoped! From our hotel it was around 30 minutes by boat, then a hot and sweaty trek up to the viewpoint.

We couldn’t wait to dive into the greeny-turquoise water after to cool down!

This really was a highlight of my time in Raja Ampat.

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

The colour of the water in Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

The colour of the water in Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Piaynemo, Raja Ampat

Kayaking In Raja Ampat

Many hotels have kayaks you can rent out. It’s a great wait to cruise along the coastline of the islands, but be wary of strong currents.

Where To Stay In Raja Ampat

I stayed at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge which was wonderful! The small wooden bungalows on the beachfront were cute, cosy and located seconds from the sand. The restaurant served a decent buffet breakfast and even cooked up a BBQ one evening! There was AC, wifi (although slow, come on, you’re in paradise!) and snorkel gear and kayaks for rent.

They also offer special Papua diving packages.
Booking.com

Our room at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, Indonesia

Our room at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, Indonesia

Frolicking on the pier at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, Indonesia

Frolicking on the pier at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, Indonesia

Perfect beach scene at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, Indonesia

Perfect beach scene at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge, Indonesia

When To Visit Raja Ampat

The best time to visit Raja Ampat is between October and April, with the best conditions towards the end of the year. It’s pretty much bang on the equator with average highs of 31 Celsius and lows of 25. June and July are the wettest months, but in tropical paradise you get used to seeing storm clouds most days. Thankfully they pass pretty quickly!

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Raja Ampat? 

Prices will vary, but here’s a rough guide:

  • Return flights from Jakarta to Sorong: £200.
    Taxi from Sorong Airport to Sorong Harbour: IDR 100,000 (£6.20)
  • Raja Ampat visitor permit fee for international visitors: IDR 1,000,000 (£62.64).
  • Express ferry tickets: IDR 130,000 (£8.14) for economy class or IDR 220,000 (£13.78) for a VIP ticket.
  • Total travel costs (excluding food & extra activities): £282.62 ($353 USD or IDR 4,622,228)

F.Y.I. One night at Raja Ampat Dive Lodge on Mansuar Island costs £239 for a double room. They offer plenty of packages which include dives. Find out more here.

Useful Information For Visiting Raja Ampat

As the islands are pretty cut off, it’s important to organise currency before you take the trip. Some hotels will accept credit cards but it’s not something to rely on.

Cover up. It’s important to show respect when visiting villages and you’ll see signs reminding you not to wander around in bikinis.

Sign at Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

Sign in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

I read that Sunday is considered family day for a lot of people (for religious reasons) so avoid this for travelling or taking part in activities. 

Remember, Raja Ampat isn’t a tourist destination like Bali, so expect the experience to be a little more rough and ready! It’s all part of the adventure…

Sign in Arborek Village, Raja Ampat

See you again Raja Ampat!

Huge thanks to the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for inviting me on the #TripOfWonders as part of their #WonderfulIndonesia campaign. As always, opinions are my own! 

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18 comments

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18 comments

Victor Marid 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

Chloe! Love your story! Thanks for sharing. I really love this area of the world.

Reply
Wanderlust Chloe 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

Thanks Victor – it really was a magical part of the world to visit 🙂

Reply
Heels In My Backpack 15th November 2016 - 2:13 pm

Oh my god, it really does look like paradise! I wish I had known about it before my Indonesia trip earlier in the year! Looks like you had a blast x

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Wanderlust Chloe 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

It looks like you had an amazing trip too but yes, Raja Ampat really was incredible! I’d love to see how it develops over time. Fingers crossed it’ll stay reasonably untouched. So stunning!

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Rio 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

you should visit spot called balbulol and dafalen when in raja ampat. also there is jellyfish lake, on some of the island there is human bone up there..
and also there is weird unique small rock formation idk the name of the spot tho.

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Wanderlust Chloe 30th November -0001 - 12:00 am

Thanks for the tips! I’d love to return but sadly I think it’s many years off! Such a magical part of the world.

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Shaun19765 13th October 2017 - 12:14 pm

any idea where we can rent sea kayaks to explore on our own. thanks

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Wanderlust Chloe 16th October 2017 - 10:50 am

Hi Shaun, most hotels will have them available for rent. They had them at our hotel – Raja Ampat Dive Lodge. Thanks

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Millie Campbell 30th March 2018 - 1:23 pm

Hello! We are hoping to make this trip later this year, any must-see’s? Did you need any vaccinations? Also do we need to know any of the language or do the locals mostly speak English?

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Wanderlust Chloe 4th June 2018 - 10:36 am

Hi Millie! Lovely to hear from you! I got my rabies boosters done as I wasn’t up to date on those but I’d already had quite a few vaccines before. Some people didn’t bother so I don’t know how high the risk is right now – definitely worth checking the World Health Org site to make sure you’re happy. Some people working in the hotels and tourism industry speak bits of English but on the islands there were local dialects. It’s always good to get a few words in the local lingo I find – hello / goodbye / thanks will get you far! Have an amazing time – Piaynemo is my must-see. But it’s so beautiful and untouched generally, you’ll love it!

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Aaren Prody 13th August 2018 - 8:57 pm

This look so beautiful! I am going to put this on my bucket list for Indonesia next time I go! Beautiful photos and great tips!

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Chloe Gunning 14th August 2018 - 5:02 pm

Thanks for your comment Aaren – I loved it there!

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Kim 18th October 2018 - 2:35 am

So I’m going by myself in December and I was wondering as a female what is covering up actually mean? Are shorts and a tank top considered not covering up?

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Chloe Gunning 21st October 2018 - 8:56 am

Hi Kim, you should be fine dressed like that. It’s more about not wearing swimwear around the islands with the locals.

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Serena Joy 2nd November 2018 - 3:29 pm

wow, this is absolutely amazing, it really makes me put Raja Ampat as my top destination for next year! I have a friend who recently went diving there, she absolutely loved Cape Kri, said it was the experience of a lifetime. I so want to get there myself and explore everything!!!!

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Chloe Gunning 13th November 2018 - 8:32 am

It’s SUCH an incredible place Serena! Hope you make it there soon!

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Sarah 5th May 2019 - 12:34 pm

Hi what time of the year did you go to get all those beautiful days of sunshine? Me and my boyfriend are going in 3 weeks until June 7 and I’m wondering if we risk getting rain/wind every day! :/
Beautiful blog

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Chloe Gunning 22nd May 2019 - 9:23 am

Hi Sarah, Hope you’re well! Raja Ampat is SOOO amazing! You’re going to love it. It’s one of the top places I’ve ever travelled to. We were there in October time, but I think they get a lot of sunshine all year around. Also, when it rains, it’s often only one big downpour and then it brightens up again. Fingers crossed it’s nice for you!

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