Raja Ampat Islands

Raja Ampat Islands, Sorong: Address, Raja Ampat Islands Reviews: 5/5

Raja Ampat Islands
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John K
Sydney, Australia42 contributions
Wisesa is a liveaboard, traditional wooden phinisi in Raja Ampat, quite spacious above decks but pretty squeezy below in all of the cabins except Papua. Our Cruise Director was a French guy called Dylan, who was very approachable. He really knew his job and the best snorkelling places to go. It fact the nine crew members were really fantastic, so pleasant and helpful. As we all know, the crew makes a small cruise, and Dylan and the boys ticked every box for us.
The meals were fantastic, lots of variation and plenty of it. A word of caution though most of the meals had chilli and were quite spicy. Drinks are another matter. The alcohol is very expensive, we purchased one bottle of duty free spirits each before we boarded and drank it with coke, sprite or soda water. There are plenty of those soft drinks but no juice so if you want orange or pineapple you will have to bring it with you as well as the spirits. We didn’t drink a lot as we were quite worn out at the end of the day.
Every snorkelling spot was different and every one was spectacular in their own way. Soft and hard corals were wonderful and the amount and variance of fish blew me away. This is the best marine area we have ever seen, including the Great Barrier Reef all the Pacific Islands from Hawaii to Tahiti to Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea. This is some place.
What amazed me was the fact that no matter where we snorkelled our expectations were exceeded.
We will remember this holiday for a long time.

Written February 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cw_ni
Jakarta, Indonesia4 contributions
Family
We had a chance to visit Raja Ampat on Dec. We stayed on a pinisi boat (LOB) for 5 days, sailing from Sorong, Mansuar, Wayag, Piaynemo, Sawandarek, Waisai and back to Sorong. The boat managed to sail the long hours at night, so that during the day we can do activities at some points of interests.
We enjoyed watching sunrise and sunset. We also did sightseeing from tops of 2 islands: Piaynemo and Wayag. Both gave a spectacular view of tosca sea with karst hills, though the latest one was harder to reach, we climbed and crawled!! The kids really enjoyed the inhabitant beaches. They can play for hours there. A paddle was provided, and it was actually challenging just to stand up right on it. Other challenging thing was to jump from the boat bow.
The snorkling was definitely the best part of the trip, with numerous sea creatures such as sweetlip fish, batfish, lion fish, pufferfish, snapper fish, groper fish, black tip shark, and even the rare black manta and spotted eagle ray! Endless colourful coral, sea fan, coral sea christmas tree and a lot more.
Our guide concerned on conserving the nature, he reminded us not to touch the sea creatures, not to step/kick on coral, and not to eat lobster. This place was really quiet, less tourists compare to other places, and succesfully made us lost in time.
Overall, this was a wonderful place that a nature lover should visit once.
Written January 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Fred T
Reno, NV740 contributions
We spent a week each at two different dive resorts. The snorkeling is the best we have every done. The house reefs (next to resorts) were just so-so Needed to take boat trips to get to the good stuff. The heat and humidity can be a problem, so best is to have a room with air conditioning. We did encounter many jellies (but most were non-stinging). Sometimes the water was somewhat cloudy, so limited visibility. One must buy a year long park pass for 750,000 local currency.
Written January 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tyler L
17 contributions
Siren acted in poor faith using a bait and switch tactic by using my money as an interest free loan for over 6 months from September 2019 through April 2021 when they clearly had no intent to operate the trip that I booked. I booked a trip in September 2020 on the Indo Siren to Raja Ampat in March of 2021. When booking, Siren offered a 30% discount on the trip and promised to move the date of the trip at the same price paid if it was impacted by COVID-19. Ultimately, I booked this trip knowing there was a chance it would be cancelled or moved, but decided that getting a deal on the trip while helping out Siren during COVID when many of their bookings were cancelled was worthwhile. Siren took many months to determine that the trip would not sail when it was very clear this was unrealistic. When they finally made this determination they refused to refund the funds paid for the trip for multiple months and would not honor the deal they made to move the booking to a future date at the same price. I will never do business with Siren again.
Written April 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Daniel D
Nanaimo, Canada170 contributions
Visited R4 aka Raja Ampat twice. Once in 2014 and again in 2018. I will continue to visit these islands for the rest of my life. They are heaven on earth for nature lovers. The most species, the most beautiful reef systems and the most humble warm people. I am an underwater photographer and one thing this place does is ruin your experiences for other locations. My second favourite place is far and away from Raja Ampat....in terms of fish and reef systems. It is not cheap in terms of money or time to invest a vacation in...but the payoffs are large. I pray the environment survives the rafts of visitors that are now visiting.
Written January 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Hanoi tour 201901
42 contributions
Was traveling to Raja Ampat in July 2019 with one day tour package. Leaving from Sorong Harbour in the morning at about 8 am. To get to wharf of Piaynemo about 3 hours in speed boat with stop by at Pasir Timbul for about 20 minutes. Take a walk throughout wooden traps to the Peak of Piaynemo....it was so beautiful scenes. Please prepare lunchbox, drinks and snacks from Sorong (provided by tour agent). Snorkeling at Yenbuba, a beautiful undersea live.
Written January 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

aimee0910
Perth, Australia3 contributions
Friends
Whilst I support the need for marine/reef conservation work in Raja Ampat islands, my experience with Barefoot Conservation was not one that was depicted on the website- quite the opposite.

Barefoot Conservation have now based their 'home'/basecamp on a new island (Arborek) than what is depicted on their website, and is much more cramped than the photos show. there was only one shower/toilet to share between 18 people (during my stay for 10 days [which was meant to be a full 2 weeks] there were 18 people). be prepared; the toilet is a squat toilet style; and the 'shower' when i left was two planks of wood and a big tub of freshwater with a bucket- no such thing as running showers, let alone hot water showers. Sleeping accommodation was very much dorm styled- bunk beds etc- during my stay there were 8 of us in a ridiculously cramped room, wasn't enjoyable.

it said on their website that there are 2 dives a day; however what is not mentioned is that the dives are only 37 minutes maximum each, with a maximum bottom depth of 18 metres.and most of the diving is done in very local sites (i.e off the home jetty/off arborek jetty) and there does not seem to be much variety of dive sites offered, even on the saturday which was 'fun dive' day. you are better off diving elsewhere as you will have a much better experience, and more time to look at things.

also one other thing to note; there is a mention that there is a 24 hour satellite phone in case of emergency (as it is a very remote part of the world); however after arriving on the island (and during my time) there was no such phone that existed, which was very disappointing to discover. as for phone reception; you would be lucky to get a waft of it, if you climbed up the 'internet tree' by the jetty

Barefoot Conservation seems to be targeting backpacker minded people; be prepared to be living like one if you decide to join one of their expeditions. The staff members were friendly though during my short stay. they also make sure that they never run out of beer; which can only be purchased in Sorong (at least 3 hrs away by ferry)

I'm not a fussy person and generally can adapt to most situations without much problem, but this really was not a relaxing holiday by any means and a far way to travel for lack of information and preparation of what life/the acommodation/sanitary hygiene was going to be like- I ended up escaping to Kri island to a homestay, and had a far more enjoyable time as there was plenty of space. even though nowhere near resort style, at least there was space to sit and be alone with my thoughts....!

p.s diving was amazing though- highly recommend diving in Raja Ampat; especially manta sandy. coral formations also amazing. very sad about the amount of rubbish; and was quite astounded by the amount of tourists in Raja Ampat- a lot of live aboards around. also, if staying in homestays, be aware that you may have visitors in the night- rats. be sure to not leave any food- unopened or opened in your bags; rats also like to eat soap and will chew through toiletry bags to get to the soap.

feel free to contact me for any more info
Written January 17, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SharkGirl1
London, UK9 contributions
Solo
I think it’s important that others are aware of the following before booking this trip. I was excited before I went based on the mainly very positive reviews.

First of all the ocean life is beautiful in Raja Ampat - it’s worth going there for this. I recommend staying at a homestay over doing this project.

The notes before my trip mentioned: ‘During the project, safety is of paramount importance.'

Diving equipment:
The rented equipment regularly broke which was very unnerving. It wasn’t just once or twice, it was at least every second day. It’s unclear when it was last serviced.

The rental equipment was scarce. There were only a few long wetsuits (and in bad condition) - the one that fitted me had a massive hole down most of my right thigh, as well as other horrible ones. I had seen what hydroids had done to people who wore short ones there. I’m unhappy to have paid for this rental equipment when it was just plain awful. Why not tell me to just bring my own? I wish I did. Equipment was shared every day (I had not seen any mention of this in the notes I downloaded before paying for the trip) - having to piece together a weight belt / equipment for every dive when so much of it was broken / breaking wasn’t a good experience. Why charge me so much for rental when it’s in awful condition and I had to share it anyway? Also why not put a reef hook as a packing list item? There weren't enough to go around and some sites had strong current. The pre-departure info said ‘You needn’t worry however, as you will fully trained on how to dive in currents’. ‘Fully trained’ was just being told 'use the hook on the reef' basically.

Luckily I didn't get chikungunya while there - while I was there, I was told that 'all the staff and islanders' had experienced this terrible illness (arthritis like symptoms can be ongoing for years). It's transmitted by mosquitos (the hut I was sharing had mosquitos along with broken mosquito nets - I was bitten while sleeping due to there being holes in the net).

Pre-departure information:

Much of the pre-departure information provided after I paid the final amount for my trip 2 months before departure was incorrect. It was edited twice between paying the final amount and my return home after the trip.

Aspects such as having 'a fully qualified doctor on site’ weren’t true at all. At one stage I had a headache and nausea after a dive and when I couldn’t get through to DAN insurance due to poor phone reception - if it had been anything serious I don’t think my odds would have been great for lack of medical staff.

Trip notes said: 'Coral reef conservation and monitoring
This will be conducted via two research dives a day from Monday to Friday. The main purpose of this is to produce detailed coastal habitat maps of the surrounding area for use in advising local government and communities on Marine Protected Areas.’

- The main reason why I chose this project was for the scientific and conservation elements. When I arrived I was told that it was unlikely I would be doing any proper survey dives at all. So it’s unclear why expectations set that this is any way achievable in 2 weeks. How disappointing.

I was told that there were very few transects that still needed to be done as previous volunteers had 'completed enough of them'. Also, only one science officer along with one volunteer (who had been there for weeks) (out of 16 people) were qualified to do fish transects due to the time that it took to complete all the learning / exams / verification in order to do the transects. Why I couldn’t have been provided the lectures before travelling there so I could have sat the exams right away and at least potentially experienced some of the transects? (other volunteers had asked this too).

The only ‘survey dives’ I got to do involved photographing the bellies of manta rays but the data base there appears to be so unorganised it’s unlikely that it will be possible to use it in any scientific way - as locations don’t appear to be logged. Also, no one told me about this until about 5 days after I arrived (and I was so enthusiastic about the science part!).

The trip notes mentioned ‘Working within local communities
You will not only be involved in marine conservation activities but can also get involved with teaching English to the school children and other community members. You may also be involved in a range of other activities including climate change research, livelihood diversification workshops and providing education on environmental issues and eco-tourism.’
I helped teach english, but never saw a trace of the other mentioned activities.

I never got an apology despite the owner of the project being made aware of many issues with the project (the above is not the half of it!). I am a bit surprised seeing it was SO different to how described and the simply awful equipment that no sort of partial refund was offered. It was absolutely falsely sold. The project owner never emailed me to apologise either. I would not recommend this project to anyone and feel lucky to have left the place alive.
Written May 21, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Parosite
Paros, Greece140 contributions
Solo
Having been traveling in tropical regions for 30 years, Raja Ampat has been a dream for a long time, but I have always been very apprehensive about the cost. This year I finally took the plunge during my 60 day trip around Eastern Indonesia. To my surprise, if you do things right, this archipelago turned out to be rather affordable, and I spent 10 days longer than the 2 weeks I actually planned. You can anyway not avoid the 1 Million Rupiah entrance fee (which is fortunately invested in conservation and valid for one year), so better stay as long as possible.

Some advice in chapters (skip ahead if not interested in one):

General description and time frame:
Raja Ampat (The 4 Kings, often abbreviated R4) is one of these quintessential tropical island destinations. The islands are spectacular and diverse above water, featuring mountainous and karst islands, as well as coral cays. With high biodiversity, including several endemic species of mammals and birds, they are second to none below the surface. This is probably the richest coral reef system on the planet. Just snorkeling I have seen plenty of turtles, dugongs, reef sharks, walking sharks, wobbegongs, dolphins, mantas & eagle rays and literally billions of smaller fish. Don’t underestimate the size of this island group, even if it looks tiny on a map. There are more than 1500 islands and the largest island Waigeo measures about 110 km East to West. Traveling tranquilly on a budget you will need about a month to see most of Northern Raja Ampat, more if you want to include Misool in the South.

Who should NOT go to Raja Ampat:
If you are a hardcore budget traveler getting by on less than 10€/13$ per day, possible elsewhere in Indonesia, Raja Ampat is not for you. I met some people camping or bringing a second hand folding kayak, this might be an option! In case you need a strong phone signal, Wifi, AC or a hot shower, no way, unless you want to spend loads of money! If you are a novice snorkeller/diver Raja Ampat might not be suitable either. The best spots involve dealing with strong currents and you could get in danger and/or damage the coral. Also consider that if you are young or inexperienced, you should rather keep Raja Ampat for the future. The sheer beauty & biodiversity will spoil you and you might not be able to appreciate other good spots in the world anymore.

Pre-departure & what to bring:
As English is not widely spoken, do yourself a favor and learn a few words of Bahasa, a very easy language with hardly any grammar. You will be received in a completely different way, be able to communicate with locals and ultimately save money, negotiating for transfer prices for example. An Indonesian-English app that works offline will come in handy. Bring your own mask, snorkel and compact fins (currents are a real issue), rental equipment is not always available and often of inferior quality. Your own shorty/light weight wetsuit might come in handy as well, protecting you from microjellyfish and the fierce tropical sun. An offline tide app like DGS is necessary if you are a serious snorkeler and want to predict currents.
As electricity is limited to a few hours in the evening bring 2 flashlights or 3 and an adaptor to charge several devices at the same time. Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are a must. Alcohol is rarely available and ridiculously expensive, so if you need booze in paradise, BYO!!! If you don’t eat fish, bring some snacks, as you can expect fish, rice and veggies 3 times a day.
There are no ATMs outside the capital Waisai, so pack plenty of cash. Asking nicely at a dive shop I managed to get a cash advance on my credit card though. An Indonesian Telkomsel SIM card is a must to book homestays by SMS. Your hosts won’t be able to reply to foreign numbers. R4 is not exactly known for its nightlife, so bring some good books, movies, card games…

Access:
Compared to other ‘paradise island’ destinations like the Bandas, Banyaks or Togians, Raja Ampat is surprisingly easy to get to, thanks to regular domestic flights to Sorong. My arrival flight from Manado and departure flight to Ambon cost me less than 650K (40€) each. There are 2 fast ferries from Sorong to Waisai per day (9/14 h) for 135K one-way. You will be received by tour guides bringing you to the information counter to pay the NP entrance fee. This is the one and only time you should have booked a homestay in advance, as your hosts will pick you up from the pier.

Dangers & environmental hazards:
Papuans are wonderful and welcoming people, I never had any problem leaving several million rupiah of cash in my unlockable hut. The sun, heat and humidity can be rather tiresome for people (and electronic devices) used to a temperate climate, as can be mozzies and other biting insects. Currents are the main danger when snorkeling. Marine life is plentiful and you should take the usual precautions, avoiding fire coral, jellyfish and stonefish for example. Saltwater crocodiles do live in some mangrove areas, so consult locals before heading out into the water. If you have a severe medical condition, you should avoid very remote homestays. In my homestay on Birie Island, the family left to their village Arefi on the neighboring island. No transport nor phone signal, so if you have a medical emergency at night, game over.

Homestay accommodation:
‘Homestays’ in R4 are beach huts as found elsewhere in Southeast Asia, they range from ultra basic to really comfy. Nowadays there are 130+ homestays in R4, compared to a dozen 10 years ago, so unless you are traveling in peak season you shouldn’t have trouble finding lodging (the exception being touristy Kri Island and popular places like Kordiris and Beser Bay on Gam). Standard price is 350K (20 €) per person per day, including 3 meals, water, coffee & tea. Some homestays are more expensive and others might give you a discount (300K/day) if you stay a week. Many homestays have a couple of new free standing huts, far superior to their older rooms in a communal hut. Ask for those when booking. Visit Stayrajaampat for details. Please remember that your hosts are basically fishermen or subsistence farmers, with no experience or formal training in hospitality, so don’t expect Bali standards. Most places provide shared Western toilet, bucket shower, toilet paper and towels, though it once happened to me that my hosts looked at me like an alien when I asked for a towel.
You should definitely prebook your first Homestay, after I recommend to book by SMS (in Bahasa) the day before or even on the day of your arrival at the next one. This will leave you more flexibility: Stay longer in a place you like, leave sooner in a place you don’t and above all share transfer costs with fellow travelers. Just showing up at a homestay is unlikely to work out, as many don’t have visitors for weeks/months and are in permanent hibernation mode. Better to let them know you are coming, so they can open up the place, clean and buy food.

Transfers & excursions:

Transfer prices are ridiculously high in R4, so as a budget traveler it is better to spend some time on each island (I did 5 islands in 25 days + boat excursions to several others). In a perfect world you should travel in a group of 4-6 people to share transfer costs. Nonetheless, if you are alone it is highly likely you will meet other travelers to share costs with.
If you find yourself in the situation of being solo, don’t despair and haggle. Sometimes I only paid 30 percent of the ‘official’ transfer price (fuel only). Also consider that some hosts will quote a speed boat price for transfers, ask for a longboat instead, slower but a lot cheaper.
To save money on excursions, try to choose a homestay with a magnificent house reef. Being alone, it is generally possible to negotiate excursion prices as well.

Individual Islands:

I haven’t done them all, but will definitely be back one day to visit Misool, Pianyemo and the Fam Islands.
Kri is by far the most touristic island in R4, hardly Ibiza style though. The North Coast is a solid row of beach huts. The beach in the Southwest looked more tranquil and beautiful. Mansuar is less developed. I visited both islands on a day trip, so I am hardly an expert. Snorkeling famous Cape Kri was kind of underwhelming.
Gam Island is huge with several areas offering homestay accommodation. I chose the mangrove lined South coast between Kapisawar & Sawinggrai. To get into the water is easy jumping off the pier in either village, getting out of the water at low tide is a different story. The reef has suffered from severe storm damage. An advantage of this coast is that you can drift with the current and walk back, fine for inexperienced snorkelers. The best coral by far can be found at the entrance of Gam Bay (Beser Bay area). Expect very strong currents on the outgoing tide.
Arborek Island turned out to be one of my favorites, tiny island, lovely village, huge and spectacular reef. Snorkeling the entire perimeter of the reef is for experienced snorkelers only, if the current runs West to East. Choose an above water hut in the Northwest for refreshing sea breezes and spectacular sunset views.
I had the privilege to be the only traveler on Manyaifun for 6 days, Robinson feeling. Very remote island, fantastic beach, fine house reef protected by tribal Sasi laws, plenty of walking sharks and more fish than I have seen anywhere else before. Not exactly cheap to get to, but absolutely worth it.
Batanta (Birie Island) is another place I would recommend if you like to be ‘at the end of the world’. The best area for Dugong spotting in R4, many Mantas around Pulau Wai and an unbelievably rich reef system. Don’t expect luxury though.
Friwen is kind of underrated, mainly visited by day trippers diving the famous wall on Friwen Bonda. The lagoon in the South is paradise and there are a couple of good snorkeling spots around the Norteastern and Southeastern tip of the fringing reef. Due to it’s proximity to Waisai, the island is comparatively cheap to get to and receives good phone/4G signal.

That’s it! Enjoy!!!
Written June 11, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

GabyVM
Jakarta, Indonesia7,714 contributions
Couples
Hubby and I just returned from our second visit, an 18 night island-hopping snorkeling trip to Raja Ampat (RA), staying at 5 homestays in various islands: Warahnus in Kri, Kayafyof in Arborek, Tanjung Mefiyai in Saukabu Village at Paam/Fam, Sea Fans in Manyaifun and Yengkawe in Waigeo (near Waisai).

Compared to our first visit in 2013, we found RA now easier and cheaper to get to (more budget airlines) with a lot more homestays including in more remote islands – at reasonable rates. Thanks to the not-for-profit stayrajaampat.com which not only helping with information & booking but also in caring for the environment and enhancing service standards working with the homestay owners’ association.

The boat transportation cost (harbour to homestay, homestay to homestay, diving/snorkeling trips) though remained high due to expensive fuel and prolonged distribution issues. In our case, it was more than the airfares.

Our biggest concern, however, is the environment. Increasingly known as the world’s top-rated paradise for underwater lovers, RA will get a lot more visitors like us. While permits for new resorts had reportedly been frozen (only local homestays are allowed), we noticed quite a number of liveaboards (only a few in 2013) around the best dive spots which posed serious risks if not properly regulated/enforced. Just last month, a UK cruise ship Caledonian Sky accidentally smashed into and damaged a significant area of RA’s pristine reefs. In Kri, we found more damaged corals and more plastic rubbish – although we still enjoyed the snorkeling there. Out of the 5 homestays, we were the only guests in 3 so RA is still far from being crowded although we saw existing homestays adding rooms and new ones being built across the islands.

Hubby and I are divers but in both visits we only snorkeled (didn’t want the hassles of diving) and loved it. In many places we felt we could even see more snorkeling than diving (rich, colorful corrals in shallow water with plentyfull little and big fishes including mantas, sharks, napoleon wrasses, barracudas, etc. – although you could see more of the big ones in schools diving). When one day we decide to dive, for safety reasons we will make sure we pick professional operators with convincing reviews on safety as we saw like a dozen of new dive centers around the islands.

In choosing and booking the 5 homestays, for us stayrajaampat.com was a great help (detail info, photos, reviews, rates, etc.) and we were happy with all them, each with its pluses and areas to improve.

All in all, we had a great time in RA. Being Indonesians, things were easier as we could communicate better with the homestay families in Indonesian language. We found them to be simple, sincere, honest, and willing to help/make guests happy but often they were shy/took time to open up especially with foreign visitors as most don’t speak English. While being limited economically, they didn’t try to cheat, take advantage or harass visitors.

Talking with fellow travellers in Raja Ampat, we realized even more how lucky and blessed we are. As Indonesians living in this country, we could go to RA much easier and cheaper compared to them (all happened to come from faraway countries). But all of us seemed to have one thing in common: we all want to go back soonest.

Our RA photos (in progress) can be accessed in “Gaby Motuloh Google Plus”

More Detail Notes & Tips

Easier & cheaper to get to Waisai (RA region’s capital in Waigeo Island):
- More airlines now fly to Sorong (direct from Jakarta for 4 hours or with a transit in Makassar).
- Cheaper fares, Rp3M-4M ($230-300) return. We used tiket.com to compare and book and were happy with our choices (Sriwijaya & Batik).
- The fast, 2 hour Sorong – Waisai and return ferryboats operate twice daily with changed schedules as of March 5, 2017 (Sorong – Waisai: Sunday to Saturday 9am and 2pm. Waisai – Sorong: Sunday to Saturday 9am and 2pm, Saturday 9am and 2pm). Delay was less than half an hour. The air-conditioned VIP class with adjustable seats and clean toilet costs Rp100K (< $10) higher than economy class. Tickets can be purchased in the harbours but the one in Waisai had no queue line ropes and opened only 1 hour before departure creating a bit of a chaos. Ask your homestay to make a call a day earlier to reserve your tickets.
- Both harbours in Sorong and Waisai had improved significantly, cleaner with better facilities. In Waisai, a decent floating jetty for small boats made it more convenient and safer to board the homestay boat.

Boat transfer varies and can be the biggest cost item:
- Depending on homestay location, boat type (speed or slow one) and weather, it can take 30 minutes to 3 hours or longer from Waisai.
- The boat costs Rp300K to Rp3M or more (< $25 to > $250) per boat (sharable with others going to the same homestay). When booking through stayrajaampat.com, state so if you want Waisai pickup.
- If your homestay is in a remote island which may take hours from Waisai such as: Selpele, Manyaifun, Paam/Fam and Batanta, for more enjoyable and safer boat ride, it is advisable to stay ovenight midway such as in Waigeo near Waisai, Gam or Kri and leave in the morning unless you are prepared to reach your homestay after dark (weather in RA is quite unpredictable).
- When moving homestays, you can ask to be delivered (by current homestay) or picked up (by next one). Since phone/text contact was difficult, we always asked the current homestay to take us and in between stopped for snorkeling/sightseeing - to make the best use of our time & budget (needs prior research and planning). It’s good to know RA’s big picture and positions of the different islands, homestays and dive/snorkeling spots. Google earth and local people’s inputs did help.
- See stayrajaampat.com for boat transfer/excursion rates (including for snorkeling) of each homestay.
- If you feel your homestay is charging unreasonably, you can bargain. We never had to. Some homestay owners even charged us lower than their published boat rates. To avoid misunderstanding, we always asked/confirmed the rates before taking any trips.

Back to nature, full board homestays at reasonable rates:
- Thanks to stayrajaampat.com, we can now choose from over 60 homestays owned by local families across the islands.
- Nightly room rates range from Rp600K - Rp1M ($50-75) for 2 people including simple breakfast, lunch and dinner with free water, tea, coffee.
- A typical lunch and dinner consisted of rice, 2 to 3 dishes (veggies, egg, fish) plus bananas or papayas. The usual breakfasts were unusual: sweet cakes or fried donuts. A few times we got afternoon bonus like fried bananas or sweet potatoes to enjoy with the free coffee/tea. Overall for us, the food was tasty enough (the freshly caught fish was special) and plentiful, except in one homestay (it was a full house and a few late comers to the dining area did not have enough food).
- Learning from experience, we brought some snacks (energy bars, dried fruits, trail mix) and put them in plastic containers to avoid keen rats.
- If you find the food too spicy or have special dietary need, tell the cook (a dictionary/phrase book can be useful). She may be able to help.
- The homestays are really basic, may be slightly better than camping, and require some getting used to. Mostly are small rooms with thin mattresses on wooden floor equipped with hung mosquito nets. Blankets and towels are normally provided (if not, just ask). In one homestay, the pillows smell so we asked for replacements.
- Shared bathrooms (with manual shower) and toilets (mostly are western-like but with manual flush; a few are still squad typed) are in separate huts and could be a bit far. For most, these could the hardest things to be accustomed to. The good news is, they are reasonably clean.
- The generator-based electricity were on usually from sunset to midnight allowing us to charge batteries, transfer/review photos, etc. We brought some LED light bulbs (8-13 watts, warm white) in case the homestays’ were not bright enough – and used them.
- Mosquitoes were around in all homestays but they were not too many or aggressive. Our mistake was not putting on the repellant early enough so the bumps and itchiness got worse – and we didn’t bring the cure.
- Instead of money as tips, we brought children story books, recipes books for the cooks, dictionaries, snorkeling equipments, T shirts, caps, girl accessories, etc., basically useful or fun things difficult for them to buy, and they were quite appreciative by making use of the things immediately. Singing and playing with the children and recording them was particularly fun and memorable.
Written April 15, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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