How to go to Raja Ampat

Best way to get to Raja Ampat

Probably one of the frequent questions from a number of travelers is how to go to Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia. Having visited here for my first time in September 2017, I decided to write this article to share what information I obtained from my recent trip to Raja Ampat. 

First of all, where is Raja Ampat? Well, if you heard of the exotic island of Papua, Raja Ampat is located on the Indonesian side of Papua, which is known as West Papua, and is an island located towards the North West side. 

In a summary, the best way to go to Raja Ampat is;

1. Flight from Makassar, Jakarta or Manado to Sorong, West Papua
2. Ferry from Sorong to Waisai
3. Ferry from Waisai to Raja Ampat

Where is Raja Ampat? The map above shows that it is in the far east of Indonesia
How to get to Raja Ampat in West Papua

Generally, there are a number of ways to travel to Raja Ampat, and I will list them down for the convenience of the different types of travelers. The fastest and most easiest way would be by flying there and the longest way would be taking a boat or ferry there.

Below are various ways to travel to Raja Ampat, so please consider all your options before you decide on the best way to get here.

Bandara Domine Eduard Osok Sorong
The Domine Eduard Osok airport in Sorong, West Papua
Airline that flies to Raja Ampat
Currently, Wings Abadi Airlines flies the Sorong to Waisai route
Flying to Raja Ampat

Your connecting city to catch a direct flight into West Papua would be the city of Makassar in Sulawesi, Indonesia. This means, you need to fly from Jakarta or Bali into Makassar. From here, there is a direct flight all the way to Sorong in West Papua. 

The airport in Sorong is called Domine Eduard Osok (Airport code: SOQ), and is quite modern with up to date facilities. There are cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and a foot massage located just before the main departure hall. 

From Sorong, you have two options to get to Wai Sai, which is the main island to Raja Ampat on the west of Papua Indonesia. From Waisai, you can either fly or take the fast boat to Raja Ampat.

Garuda Airlines flies only from  Makassar to Sorong in West Papua
Airline that fly to Raja Ampat

From Jakarta To Sorong, West Papua - 4 Hour Direct Flight

Airlines: 
  • Batik Air
  • PT Nam Air 
  • Wings Abadi Air (1 Stop)
From Makassar to Sorong, West Papua - 2 Hour 10 Minutes Flight

Airlines:
  • Batik Air
  • Sriwijaya Air
  • Garuda Airlines
  • Lion Air (1 Stop)
Flight from Manado to Sorong, West Papua - 1 Hour 15 minutes Flight

Airlines:
  • Lion Air
  • PT Nam Air
  • Garuda Airlines 
  • Batik Air (1 Stop)
  • Sriwijaya Air (1 Stop)
Denpasar (Bali) to Sorong, West Papua - 8 Hour + Flight (Transit)

This is only recommended for those who are already in Bali. But take note that you must fly to Makassar for your connections to Sorong and Raja Ampat. Please monitor the flight timings, as if there is a delay, and you miss your flight, the next flight is the following day.

For those coming out of Indonesia, I do not recommend flying  to Bali then to Raja Ampat. It will be a little tricky. It is better to fly to the above mentioned cities and then to Raja Ampat. 

For my trip, what my group did was we took the late morning flight and put up a night at the Makassar Novotel Hotel located in the airport. The following morning, we caught the Sorong flight, so we were relaxed and not in a rush.

View of Sorong from the aircraft landing
How to get from Sorong to Raja Ampat

Once you arrive in Sorong, you have two main options to travel to Raja Ampat. Depending on your time and budget, I will list both ways down as I have tried them both on my recent trip in September 2017. 

1. Flight from Sorong to WaiSai (Marinda Raja Ampat Airport RJM)

This is the fastest option and it takes only 30 minutes flight to Raja Ampat, but can cost you easily around US$25-$30 one way. The window between you connecting flight from Makassar or Jakarta needs to be observed, as sometimes delays could cost you to miss your flight. 

The only airline that flies this route is Wings Air and once a day at 1.45 PM. The plane they use is an ART-72, meaning only 72 passengers for one flight. Sometimes, there can be minor delays, like waiting for the connecting flight to land, or weather conditions.

Sorong to Waisai Raja Ampat Ferry
The fast boat from Sorong to Waisai, Raja Ampat
2. Fast Boat or Ferry from Sorong to Waisai, Raja Ampat

This is the most common way that everyone uses. It is much cheaper and efficient, but takes about two hours boat ride. Once you arrive in Sorong, you need to take a 15 minute taxi ride to the Sorong Harbour and then catch the ferry to Raja Ampat in Waisai Island. 

There are a few ferry companies that operate this route, but I would recommend using Bahari Express  ferry to Raja Ampat as they are the most reliable. The Bahari Ferry Timetable for 2017 is;
  • Daily - 2.00 PM 
  • Mon, Wed, Friday - 9.00 AM & 2.00 PM
  • Time: 2.5 Hours Journey
  • Normal Ticket: IDR 130,000 per person
  • VIP Ticket: IDR 220,000 per person (Recommended)
  • Go a little early
  • Does not operate of Indonesian public holidays (Please check with them)
You should also know that the times may change a little, and prices may change over time. So if you plan to use the ferry both ways, you need to buy your return ticket from the Waisai Harbour or Port. They have a ticket counter at the port.

This is Bahari Express, the most popular way to get to Raja Ampat from Sorong
Some of the types of private speed boats in Raja Ampat 
Private Speedboat from Sorong to Raja Ampat

This is the most expensive way. However, if all fails and you have no other option, a private chartered speedboat can cost you easily around USD $600 to USD $1000 per boat from Sorong to Waisai.

This also depends on the engine size, so for the well heeled or those strapped for time, this would be a quicker way to get directly to your dive resort in Raja Ampat. 

How to go from Waisai to Raja Ampat 

From the Raja Ampat Airport in Waisai, you can take a taxi to the Waisai Harbor or Port where you can catch your arranged resort boat, which usually comes and picks you up. You need to inform the resort on your arrival as it may take 10 to 20 minutes boat ride to and from the resort. 

This also depends on which resort you are booked at. The closer resorts take only five to ten minutes, while further resorts may take 10 to even 45 minutes. I highly recommend that you arrange for this part of the final travel to your homestay or resort. 

Map of Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia
Raja Ampat Airport
The very small Marinda Airport or Raja Ampat Airport in Waisai, West Papua
Best and Fastest Way to get to Raja Ampat

Honestly, due to no direct flights to Raja Ampat, everyone needs to do at least one transit and one boat ride to get here. There is no short cut for this. I have spoken to many locals, and everyone says that the best connecting city is still Makassar.

Perhaps in the future, they may eventually have a direct flight, but I doubt it. Unless they revamp and renovate the Raja Ampat airport in Waisai, larger planes will be able to land here. Currently, only the Wings Abadi ATR-72 propeller planes land here.

Passengers at the Sorong port in West Papua
Bahari Express fast boat ticket counter at Waisai Harbour in West Papua
Raja Ampat Marine Park Entry For Visitors 

For those of you heading here, please do not forget that every tourist, local or foreign visiting here requires a special marine park permit or Raja Ampat PIN. I have written about it, and you can find the information on how to get the Raja Ampat Marine Park Permit from Sorong or Waisai. 

This is something that many people are unaware about, until they reach the harbour area. Some of the locals or ticket counters may ask you if you have got the permit. So, please take note that this is mandatory for anyone visiting Raja Ampat.

The permit fees for international travelers is IDR 1,000,000 and for local Indonesians, it is IRD 500,000. The fees collected goes directly to the conservation of the Raja Ampat Marine Park and is managed by the ministry here. There are no third parties that sell the permits.

Entrance fees to Raja Ampat Marine Park
The Raja Ampat Marine Park entrance permit fees
As Raja Ampat is one of the desired destinations for many travelers, this information provides valuable up to date details on how to get here. Over the years, much of the information has been changed over and over, hence this was obtained in September of 2017, which is very recent.

Many scuba divers are now planning to visit here as well, and if you are one of them, you can check out this article on this best guide for scuba diving in Indonesia which covers most of the popular places.

One of the most iconic places to visit in Raja Ampat is also Piaynemo, a beautiful island karst that sits in a lagoon. The view from the top of the hill makes this place one of the must visit places here. I have also written an article on how to get to Piaynemo when you are here. 

The above was compiled by David Hogan Jr of Malaysia Asia, on how to go to Raja Ampat based on my actual experiences traveling here. This incredible trip was made possible with Indonesia Tourism on the 2017 Trip of Wonders Adventure and Dive Campaign. 

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