I was surprised to be staying at Sorido Bay because I had made a booking at Kri Eco but was told on the boat to the island that I would be receiving a free upgrade because of renovations being done at Kri. Sorido Bay is a beautiful establishment and I was generally impressed with the accommodations, food, and diving operations. This is not to say, however, that all went smoothly. There is a severe lack of enthusiasm for making it easy for guests to pay and for getting the staff over to the island. Once at the resort, however, it is much smoother sailing.
Even before getting to Sorong, the booking process was a mess. Payment is expected in cash well in advance of arriving at the resort (25% deposit due at booking, remainder due 45 days in advance of your arrival date) and payment can only be made by wire transfer or bank transfer if you have an Indonesian account. The resort refuses to accept credit cards for bookings despite having credit card machines at both their office in Sorong and at the resort. I have been to many parts of the world found that virtually everyone accepts credit cards for bookings and payments and even if they didn't, they would not except you to pay such a large sum of money that far in advances before receiving service. Sorido/Kri's payment policies are absolutely ludicrous and, quite frankly, offensive, especially when they will accept a credit card to settle your account on departure but not for a booking. If you want to pay in certainly currency, make sure you specifically request and confirm twice that you have the correct bank account information. If you send EUR 1200 to the USD account instead of the EUR account, you will have to pay extra upon departure to make up for the whole amount not being received due to bank conversion rates. All of these problems can be easily resolved if they only accepted credit cards but they insist on hiding behind the "this is Indonesia" veneer.
Pickup from the hotel on Day 1 was a complete catastrophe. I was told to expect pickup between 8:00 and 9:00 AM. I checked out of my room for 8:00AM and waited patiently in the lobby until about 10:00AM. At that point, a lady who supposedly worked for the resort but who wore no identification, appeared to inform me that boats were leaving for Kri at 10:30AM and in the afternoon. I expressed interest in leaving sooner than later but the lady alternately appeared and disappeared until about 12:00 noon, only to inform me that I had missed the early boat and, along with another guest, I must go to their office to settle my bill. We got into a car and drive around town, eventually ending up in a residential neighbourhood. No signs identified their office but we went inside nevertheless only to wait 15 minutes for them to dig up our invoices. I had already paid the night before by wire transfer but I guess they needed me there in person to tell them that. We drove back to the hotel for lunch and finally managed to go out to the boat at 1:30pm, only 5.5 hours late. Aside from the docks being absolutely filthy with garbage and trash everywhere, the rest of the journey went smoothly, arriving at the resort around 4:00pm. A bit of a waste of the first day.
Rooms are private cabins with a deck that faces the beach. All very nice and well-appointed with a steady supply of hot water (so great after dives on days with miserable weather). The food at the restaurant was good and the service always came with a smile. No complaints there.
The diving operation ran smoothly and a big kudos to the dive guides and boat staff for always having the gear ready to go. We had to return once to the jetty to pick up a pair of fins but for the amount of diving we did, they had an excellent success rate. I find it a rather large coincidence that the supposed best dive sites of Raja Ampat happen to be closest to Kri which conveniently means very little expense in offering diving in from the resort (I don't mean to be excessively critical but have they really dived the ENTIRE Raja Ampat?). They have a strict 10km diving zone policy - if you want to go outside this zone, you need a minimum number of people (usually 4) and you will have to pay extra. Trips to Manta Point were definitely worth it and we had a trip to The Passage planned but when the day came, it was raining in the morning so the trip was cancelled. The Passage is only an hour away but the staff scrubbed the trip even though the weather was perfectly find from 10am onwards. I was really disappointed and was wondering if they might have been looking for an excuse to not run a trip out to The Passage since it would be more convenient to run trips closer to the resort. On that note, there are in excess of 30 dive sites around Kri but for some reason, we ended up repeating some of them in only 15 dives (South Kri and Cape Kri are favourites because they are close - not bad dives but not outstanding. Both located less than 500m from the resort). The quality of marine life is related to the level of human contact and despite the resort's claims of being eco-friendly, I did notice on several occasions gasoline and oil leaking from the boats at the jetty, dive guides urinating in the water off the jetty, and staff cleaning the boats and equipment with soap which was eventually washed into the water. Although well preserved, the coral and marine life around the resort is far from the pristine, untouched environment it is said to be. It would have been nice to see an effort to visit more untouched areas instead of doubling up on the closer dive sites. Beware the unlimited diving since you may get quantity but that comes at the expense of quality.
I understand that for religious reasons, the staff do not work on Saturdays. I was a little offended, however, that the package is marketed as a 7-night stay but given the late arrival, no working on Saturday, and an early departure on Sunday, it is more like a 5-day package. The no-working Saturdays are OK I suppose if you have an early flight home on Sunday but most people do not or decide to stay over in Sorong on Sunday night in hopes of doing some diving on Saturday. Something worth considering especially if you are looking at the unlimited diving. It's certainly not good value for a 7-night stay because you can only dive on 5 days and must do at least 18 dives to break even (that means 3 days of 4 dives per day).
On the Saturday, I took a walk over to Kri (15 minutes, a nice hike) to see how things were on the other side of the island. I was not that impressed with what I saw at Kri in terms of the quality of the accommodations given what is described on the website. They are basic to say the least. If you have a neighbour in your duplex, I can imagine that being a painful week since you can literally hear the person next door whispering (the rooms are by no means enclosed). Rooms have one plug so don't plan on plugging in a battery charger and a fan at the same time. I don't think I would have been that impressed if I had have stayed here.
Upon departure, the credit card machine was not working I needed to make a second visit to the office in Sorong. Not surprisingly, this required more driving around town, dropping off other guests, going to the office, and finally making our way back to my hotel. Part way to the hotel, the resort staff member asked the taxi driver to stop, exchanged some money with him, and asked if it was alright if I went back to hotel with just the driver. I guess the staff person couldn't be bothered to finish his day's work and wanted to be dropped off closer to his home. It seemed like all of the Papua Diving staff in Sorong were looking for every excuse to not do their jobs - providing incorrect invoices with incorrect banking information to neglecting guests at their hotels and bungling transportation arrangements to/from the hotels. It seemed to be all at their own convenience and left a hugely negative impression on my stay.
Despite the deficiencies, one person deserving a special mention is Ross, one of the dive guides and guest relations staff. It's too bad he didn't have an assistant because he was the go-to person for everything the guests needed and was always on the ball sorting out problems both large and small. I've never seen someone juggling so many things at the same time and doing such a great job of it. Well done!
All in all, an OK stay. Great facilities and great staff at the resort but don't let the impressions of your Sorong experience stay with you.
Thanks for the diving, there are some magnificent sights to be seen!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.