Raja Ampat has to be at the top of most Indonesian backpackers travel list. It is one of the ultimate destinations for diver (check here for my top three diving spots in Indonesia besides Raja Ampat) from around the world. It is also one of the hardest places to visit in Indonesia.
Most people think visiting Raja Ampat is expensive. That’s true in part, but it is possible to visit the islands on a budget. In this article I will cover the main things you need to know and things you’ll need to arrange for your trip. I will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions I have seen online about how to arrange a trip here.
btw, I’ve already covered some more general information about Raja Ampat in the Raja Ampat guide, which you can find here. I hope this information will make it easier for people to go on a Raja Ampat backpacking trip. 🙂
How to get to Raja Ampat
There are two main ways to enter Raja Ampat, the first is from Sorong, West Papua to Waigeo. The other way is Misool, which you can reach from Ambon. I have only ever entered Raja Ampat from Sorong, so I will focus on what I know and have experienced and not what I have not.
The easiest way to get to Sorong is fly to there from Jakarta (Btw, if you want to know is it worth it to spend some time in Jakarta, you better check this article). The flight takes about seven hours and usually transits in Makassar (Ujung Pandang) for one hour.
These are several local airlines that I know serve the route Jakarta-Sorong. These include Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, Merpati and Express Air. Some of the airlines transit in Surabaya or Ambon.
A return ticket from Jakarta to Sorong ranges from Rp 700,000 until Rp 5,000,000. If you want to get the cheapest tickets then you will need to find an airline with a promotion. However, on average a return ticket will cost about Rp 3,000,000 per person.
The other option you have is to fly from Jakarta to Makassar with Air Asia and then from there fly to Sorong with one of the local airlines that I mentioned before. You’ll need to do a bit of searching and comparing to get the best deal for your travel date. For the best price I’d recommend booking your flight at least 6 weeks ahead of your departure date.
Jakarta to Raja Ampat by Ferry
If you’re travelling on a very tight budget you can always take the ferry from Jakarta to Raja Ampat. The national ferry company, Pelni, offers a regular service departing from Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta to Sorong. The journey takes 4-5 days and a one way economy ticket costs around Rp 747,000.
A super VIP ticket meanwhile costs Rp 2,954,500 (two beds per cabin with a private washroom, TV and air conditioner). This is about the same price as a flight, while the VIP service is a bit disappointing. Unless you have a real phobia of flying I’d recommend skipping this option and flying. It’s just as cheap and a lot more convenient.
From Sorong to Waisai
From Sorong Airport you will need to transfer to the port. This is like a 10-15 minute drive. There are public boat to Waisai and Waigeo. A ticket costs Rp 120,000 per person and the ferry takes 2-3 hours. An insider tip from me, if you arrive in Sorong around 12, you can go straight from the airport to the port and be sailing off without any waiting around.
How to Arrange Your Raja Ampat Trip
You should probably know what you can do in Raja Ampat before you arrive, but… Raja Ampat is an archipelago of over 1,500 small islands there are endless cays, shoals, beaches and coral reefs to explore.
All of this sounds amazing, and it is. However, you’ll face a number of problems if you’re trying to go backpacking around Raja Ampat. I’ll go through three of the most common problems you’ll face quickly below (so at least you’re prepared with what to expect).
Some Background Information
There are a few things that you should keep in mind before arriving in Raja Ampat. One of the most important and easiest to overlook is money. You won’t find any ATMs outside of Waisai. So make sure you have enough money on you for your whole trip. This means carrying big bundles of cash, preferably Rupiah, which is less than ideal.
Other basic problems that you will encounter include access the fact that some of the remote settlements will have no or intermittent electricity, bad mobile phone coverage and non-existent Wi-Fi. In short arriving in Raja Ampat is a bit like travelling 20, or maybe 30, years back in time.
One other thing to keep in mind is that you need a tourist permit to visit Raja Ampat. This is very simple to do (most tour agencies, Indonesian liveaboards and resorts will arrange this for you). You can pick up your tourist permit at the Cultural and Tourism Ministry Office in Waisai. It costs Rp 200,000 per person for locals and Rp 500,000 per person for foreigners.
Overcoming The Language Barrier
The first and most obvious problem you face exploring Raja Ampat as a backpacker is the language barrier. Very few people, especially in the more remote villages, will speak more than a few words of English. If you don’t speak Indonesian you’ll need to rely on hand gestures and body language to get you by.
If you don’t speak any Indonesian then I’d recommend bringing a good old fashioned English/ Indonesian dictionary along in your backpack. It can be a huge help when conversations get too complicated. Don’t rely too heavily on technology to help you out.Most places don’t have any phone signal so you can forget Google translate.
Transport and Boat Rental Costs
As I mentioned previously, Raja Ampat is an archipelago of 1,500+ islands in the Indonesian equivalent of ‘the middle of nowhere.’ Even in an ideal situation where the government had invested heavily in public transport it would be difficult to get around.
For a number of reasons government investment in infrastructure is limited. There are public ferries operating between the main islands, but they only go between the largest urban settlements. Most transport between the islands, especially the places you want to visit as a tourist, is private and informal.
Regardless of the size of your group, renting a private boat is expensive. A large speedboat suitable for 2-4 people will cost you around Rp 2,000,000 per day. Large boats hired for group tours of up to 20 people will cost you around Rp 9,000,000. This price covers the cost of gas and a crew or captain to man the boat for you.
One of the best places to arrange a boat rental is from the capital Waisai on the island of Waerebo. It is possible to arrange different boat rentals in most settlements between the islands. As an extra tip, it’s worth asking other travellers if they share your itinerary as this will keep the costs down.
Accommodation around Raja Ampat can be roughly split between expensive dive resorts that cost $100 or more and cheap homestays run by locals. These homestays are generally quite basic for what you get. I’d recommend checking out Stay Raja Ampat for more information about local homestays in the region.
If you are on a Raja Ampat backpacking trip I’d recommend staying in a homestay. It is possible though to camp around Raja Ampat. If you want to camp you’ll need to ask the permission of the local community. Be ready to pay a small camping charge.
Arranging Food and Meals
One of thing to keep in mind when you’re backpacking through Raja Ampat is food. It’s not a problem as such. Most homestays will provide you food for between Rp 25,000 – Rp 40,000 per meal. This is usually quite basic and will be a mix of long lasting staples (like rice) with fresh seafood. As long as you’re not allergic to seafood you’ll find it tasty and delicious. However…
It is worth having some additional supplies just in case your homestay is short on food or you want to treat yourself to some chocolate, crisps or anything else. The best place to stock up on provisions is Sorong. This is where all the luxury resorts, liveaboards and everyone else catering to tourists picks up supplies.
Don’t pick up any perishables. Any fresh meat and even vegetables will spoil quickly in the tropical heat. Be sensible and buy dried and canned food, which won’t go off in your backpack or give you food poisoning.
How Much Will My Trip Cost?
This obviously depends on what do you want to see and do! This is the hard part, especially if you have decided to arrange your Raja Ampat backpacking trip by yourself. At a minimum I’d budget $75 a day in Raja Ampat for living expenses and $200 each time you want to take a day trip or sail from one island to the other.
While you might well find that you’ve over budgeted using this formula, it’s easier to have money on you and not need it than be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no money. And in Raja Ampat you really can end up being stuck in the middle of nowhere!
Budgeted for a shared tour is a lot easier. Most shared tours include all expenses (boat rental, accommodation and food), so the only thing you need money for is snacks and gifts. Just to give you some ballpark figures, a 7 day 6 night tour that includes almost everything you will want to see in Raja Ampat (but excludes diving) costs Rp. 8,500,000 per person. If you are lucky, you can get as low as Rp. 4.100.00 for a 6 day 5 night trip.
Shared Tours vs DIY Backpacking
The best way to explore Raja Ampat on a backpackers budget is to join a shared tour. The simple reason for this is Raja Ampat is huge and you’ll need to arrange a boat rental to go to the best sites. To summarise, you’ll see more and it will cost less on a shared tour. Plus the costs are fixed, so you know exactly what you can and will spend.
If you are determined to arrange your own backpacking trip through Raja Ampat be prepared for an adventure. Arranging things will be difficult and I’m sure it will get frustrating (especially if you can’t speak Indonesian). Make sure to over-budget and expect to do less than you planned.
I’d recommend limiting yourself mostly to one island and take one or two day trips to the tourist sites. It will be a great experience and you’ll come away from your holiday with amazing memories. Just be prepared for a few unexpected obstacles along the way!
I hope I have shared enough of my experiences and knowledge to give you even more of a reason to visit Raja Ampat. If you do visit, please be sure to preserve this beautiful environment. Oh, if you do want tips on arranging a tour to Raja Ampat get in touch. I’m happy to provide a recommendation for a group tour happening close to your travel date.
Have you ever gone backpacking through Raja Ampat? Do you have any questions about your upcoming trip? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[…] Raja Ampat: Backpacking on a Budget […]
ah what a beautiful reefs there,… I’ve been there once and maybe will get there for twice some day.. bring a lot memories thank you for your share
whoa….hopefully can go here next year! *fingercrossed
saya bantu doaaaa.. pasti bisa tahun depan! 🙂 🙂
First can you msg me. I live in Lombok asli Australian 087864678401 Neil 🙂
Informasi menarik yang nggak panjang tapi jelas. Like it… 🙂
Hi Halim, terima kasih sudah mampir kemari 🙂 🙂 I am glad you like it.
Very nice post Firsta! I’m planning on going back to Indonesia and Raja Ampat looks beautiful. I love that first photo.
Thanks for the tips!
Hi Frank! Thank you 🙂
Yes it is indeed a very beautiful place. Looking forward to your visit to Indonesia.
Let me know if you come around Yogyakarta. Safe travels!
Great article I really liked your candor if I have not done it I will not write it! The Waisai festival is coming up and lots of locals will make it here from Oct 18 to 23 2013. I found this website that has a quite a few rooms available from 150,000 per person right in Waisai!
Thanks for the info 🙂
Hi, i would like to know which period is the best for goung to Raja Ampat? when is the rain season? Where i could find the accomodation and cruises?Thank you very much for your kind answer, katerina
Rainy season now around October – January, but I was visiting Raja Ampat in early Jan this year and it was not rainy that much though. I will send you an email for accommodation and cruises recommendation. Cheers!
Salam ,Mbak Firsta.
Bisa saya dikirim email tentang tampat2 penginapan buat kita2 orang yang punya dana terbatas.Demikian dan terima kasih.
Bisa check disini: http://www.stayrajaampat.com/accommodation.
Saya waktu itu tinggal di Mambefor Homestay. Semoga membantu 🙂
hi, I would like info. I know low-cost state agencies to organize tours with boat lasted 7 days a RA (Wayag)
I am not really sure about what do you asked/suggested. Do you mind to explain it again to me?
Fir, itu harga yang lo peroleh kalo pergi sendiri kan? bukan with group of bunch of people. I am thinking to go there on march/april or maybe february once I am back in Indonesia. what is the best time to avoid the rain?
At the end I jumped in to a group of (around) 14 people. I guess October – early March is mostly rainy, so the best time to avoid the rain is March – September.
Hey Firsta,I work at Sorong and had travelled to Rajaampat twice.Rumour says that June there will be held Sail RajaAmpat 2014 so you guys better prepare for the budget,and I think it will be cheaper as well as Festival RajaAmpat trips annually.
Thank you for the information. 😉
mba firsta boleh minta alamat email nya ?
Hi Mbak Susanti,
Ada di page “About” saya Mbak. [email protected].
wihiii..this is what I want. I always want to visit rajaampat asap. But, the cost is so expensive than explore indochina.
pengen honeymoon ke sana, tapi harganya wooooow mbak, puluhan juta gitu, kayaknya honeymoon ke Bali aja deh yg lebih ngirit 😀
Hi I was interested in your entry:
A 7 day 6 night tour that includes almost everything you will want to see in Raja Ampat (but exclude diving) costs Rp. 8,500,000 per person or if you are lucky, you can get as low as Rp. 4.100.00 for a 6 day 5 night trip.
I have spent days looking for a non diving boat trip/liveboard around the Raja Ampat Islands for myself and my girl friend where we would have the opportunity to smorkel. Are you able to recommend any operators or sites where I could find some more information about the tours you mentioned?
Sure, I will send you an email about this.
Can you please send it to me too?
Can you also send me the information please!
Sorry can’t help 🙁 My friend who usually arranges liveabroad trips to Raja Ampat is no longer running tours to the area.
Hello could you please resend information about this liveboard to me too. Thank you. Oleg.
I need too
Great website!!! Thank you for your effort. I have around 9-10 days off staring from March 29th. I am currently browsing the Internet and looking for ideas how to spend that time. I am thinking of going either to Raja Ampat or Wakatobi. (or Australia 🙂 Would be great to see raja Ampat finally. Unfortunately, the Indonesian company (I know) that organizes tours from Sorong does not have any package tours at the time I would be there. I am wondering if you can recommend a travel agent / local tourist agency that I could contact to ask about packaged tours…Unfortunately, 3000 USD a week for a live-a-board is a bit too much for me.
Would be grateful for your suggestions
are you be able to give me a link for getting such a dive trip?
….. A 6 day 5 night live on board diving trip can cost as little as Rp. 17,000,000 per person…..
I have checked many websites,but couldn’t find anything.
Sampai jumpa lagi.
I’ll send email to you 🙂
Hi! Great article – could you send to me also? (Dive liveaboard info). I’m in Bali and plan to dive sometime in the next couple weeks and would love to come there if I can find reasonable arrangements. This sounds great. Thank you 🙂
[…] Nothing beats diving with dozens of manta rays. So when I knew that we would get a chance to swimming with Mantas around Sangalaki island, I was really excited. It was difficult swimming with the Mantas in derawan. I needed to swim in the rough sea and the mantas were as random as can be, can and appeared ANYWHERE. So I had to count on the boat crew who always pointed “There!” “Hurry up, swim straight around 15 metres!”. I finally swim with one manta and I was just happy as that. Oh, you can also swim with Manta Rays in Raja Ampat. […]
Berencana ke Raja Ampat this coming June!! Thanks for the tips. Tapi curious nih, serius harga flightnya bisa dpt segitu???!
Iya, one of my friend got that price. 🙂 Saya sendiri waktu itu beli tiket pesawatnya mepet, mungkin sekitar 1-2 minggu sebelum berangkat. Harganya pp di atas 3 juta. 😀
Hi, we are a french couple and are also interesting to find budget cruise, and if some people want to join us…
We are now in java for one week more and after we are ready to go to papouasie.
Could you send us also any recomandations please.
I sent you an email. Hope it helps.
It is a bit tricky to do Raja Ampat trip by yourself. You can make it to Waisai, but if you want to go island hopping is going to be expensive.
Hi, I am interested in the inclusive budget tour as well. Can you please email me the contact info? Thanks!!
Sure I’ll email you. Cheers!
Such a nice place to spent time with family and friends. Even though it’s quite expensive but for me, spent some money for something natural beauty is worth it. Wish that I can come for holiday. Btw nice blog frista 🙂
Thanks for visiting my blog 🙂
Yes, Raja Ampat is quite expensive compare with other destinations in Indonesia. Going there in a group would be cheaper.
Blog nya sangat menarik dan informatif. Foto-foto nya juga cool, terutama yang underwater dan campsite.
Saya tertarik dengan budget cruise tour 6D5N. Boleh minta tolong dikirim info nya ke email saya.
Terima kasih 🙂
Saya baru saja kirim email. Maaf ya lama sekali baru bales. 🙁
thanks a lot for sharing this info 🙂 I m in Flores now and woud like to go next week (from 15/5/2014) to Raja Ampat but I m quite suprised about the prices. I never paid more than 100.000 rp for accomodation and now its more than triple :-S So I m not so sure anymore to go … :-s
If anyone is going the same time, please contact me, maybe we can make it cheaper together.
Please Firsta, can you send me the email about prices for budget accomodation and trips as well ?
Try to check here: stayrajaampat.com/accommodation for accommodation. It is generally more expensive to travel around Raja Ampat rather than other part of Indonesia.
Hi, I am interested in the budget tour as well. Can you please email me the contact info? Thanks!!
Hi Natalia, sorry can’t help. The friend of mine who usually arranges liveabroad trips to Raja Ampat is no longer running tours to the area.
Do you know Firsta if they still fly from Sorong to Waisai? If so, do they fly everyday? I’m wondering how hard it is to get from the Marinda Airport back to the Waisai Pier and the cost for that. Love your blog! Thanks for your time!
I don’t really know about it, but one of my friends who flies quite often around Papua said that they still operate the route. I took the boat from Sorong to Waisai (rented it together with some of my friends, though there is also public boat available, it takes 3 hours).
Thanks for your kind words about my blog 🙂
Hello, is it possible to get the email about the affordable 6\5 day liveaboard. Looking everywhere and struggling to find some in the price range you mentioned. Thanks
Will send you an email.
good information on your blog thank you for sharing!
I am planning to go to Raja ampat for diving and maybe treking, could you please send me contacts for liveaboard and accomodation as mentioned above?
thanks a lot!
Thanks for visiting my blog. Sure, I’ll send it to you.
kak firsta, i would like to try sailing with Pelni ferry from Jakarta 😀 it could be awesome! *feel like a sailor* hehee 😀 someday lah~
Hahaha Kak Fahmi, tapi lumayan loh berhari-hari. Ngeri mual aja sih sebenernya.. Hihihi.
gila raja ampat keren banget min jadi pengen kesana nih
Semoga bisa segera kesana ya!
Thank you for your blog!
Can you send me information about the affodable liveaboards and nondiving boat trips?
Thanks in advance!
Thanks for visiting my blog. I sent you an email.
thanks for writing up this useful information. would it be possible for you to send me any info you have on budget homestays and tours in this area?
Check this website to see the accommodation options in Raja Ampat http://www.stayrajaampat.com/accommodation/. They also have a Guide section, where they can help to arrange tours for you. Hope it helps.
[…] feeling of being able to stand on the top of Wayag Islands in Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia is hard to describe. The most iconic place in Raja Ampat offers you a view that […]
Sorry be the hundredth person to ask, please send info for the budget dive liveaboard operator in Raja Ampat. Many thanks
Hi Sam, sorry can’t help. The friend of mine who usually arranges liveabroad trips to Raja Ampat is no longer running tours to the area. You should probably check with the place you are staying and ask if they can help arrange this for you.
wow VJ, nice share
Thanks. I am glad you like it!
Thanks for all the fascinating information on Raja Empat – you have a real talent for travel writing!
I am hoping to be there this summer with my wife and two teenage kids and we were hoping to be able to charter a simple boat for a 4-5 day liveaboard / snorkling trip. We have done this before in Labuan Bajo by simply turning up in the harbour and making a deal with a local boat owner, but I am not sure whether this option exists in Sorong… maybe you let me know?
Hi Ali, Thanks for your kind words!
I think you can do that from Waisai (not from Sorong). You can easily go from Sorong to Waisai by public boat. When I was visiting Raja Ampat in December 2012, the boat crew leader was Mr. Husen (he is working for Conservation International, if I am not mistaken) and here is his phone number: +6281344699129. I am not sure if he can help you, but try to call/text him might help.
wow its so amazing i really wanna go there
Thank you for the tips Firsta, hope someday I will have a chance to take a selfie in Wayag.
or a group selfie in Wayag? 😀
Essential reading before Raja Ampat, YEAH!
Like this so much hehe
Wooww! Jadi kapan jadwal ke Raja Ampatnya Fel? 🙂
Saya juga baru buat artikel raja ampat mba.. memang bagus banget, tapi photo disini jauh lebih keren..
Terima kasih sudah mampir di sini ya 🙂 Iya, setuju Raja Ampat bagus sekali.
Thank you Firsta for your tips! Ada rencana ke sana 2016 (kelamaan) dan skrg lagi belajar berenang dan diving. Sayang banget masih lebih murah ke luar negeri daripada ke Raja Ampat 🙁
Terima kasih Putri sudah mampir 🙂
Iya, belajar berenang dulu dan diving supaya bisa lebih menikmati dan explore keindahan Raja Ampat. Don’t worry Raja Ampat will not go anywhere. 😉
[…] the Thousand islands near Jakarta. The second time was at an island (don’t know the name) in Raja Ampat. My last two beach camping experiences were not so nice. The tents were really hot and […]
[…] Papua – Raja Ampat […]
I want go there
We read your blog and you mentioned being able to hire a private speed boat for 12 hours for 2,000,000. I have attached a photo of the blog.
We need transport from Sorong to the pearl farm out near Misool. The same place the public ferry drops you off. We cannot make the ferry on the Friday and must meet friends out at Misool Eco Resort. Can you help us arrange this rental of boat to take us from Sorong to the pearl farm area? Please let us know ASAP.
Thank you Georgia Clarke
Hi Firsta, thank you very much for your useful blog. I’m looking for a cheap cruise (no diving) in Raja Ampat, if you have any contact to suggest please send me.
Sorry I don’t have any contact 🙁
I would like to visit RA alone end of october, please can tell how I can visit the islands preferably by joining a group? Are there agencies that have regular trips that anybody can join?
[…] of Sentani was like. It was also my first chance to visit and explore the province of Papua (Raja Ampat is in West […]
Thank you for your blog!!
It is really helpfull!!!
im going to rajat ampat next week.
Do you know any camping site ??
Ive seen you have post one on you blog.. but no adress.. could send it to me??
Hi Martin, we camped at Wayag area, but can’t recall the island name 🙁
Once we stayed on an island where the Conservation International rep office is located.
Keren banget Kak, pengen kesana. Kayaknya cost terbesar ada di tiket sama harga untuk naik boat nya yah. Kalau ke Raja Ampat paling ideal berapa hari yah Kak? 4 hari 3 malam kecepetan nggak ya kira-kira? Thanks.
A 6 day 5 night live on board diving trip can cost as little as Rp. 17,000,000 per person.
Would you be able to recommend some company for this kind of trip?
Thank you very much!
It is possible, but you need to travel in a group.
Please send me an email ([email protected]) to share more about your plan to visiting Raja Ampat.
Hi Firsta… I really enjoyed your post here. Nice post, good info.
Hi Firsta, can you give me details on the cheap trip in Raja ampat?
I’ll shared more details through email. 🙂
Thanks for this complete and interesting article.
Raja Ampat is so amazing and big, that I think the best way to visit the area is the liveaboard boat. I know a cruise company in Raja Ampat that organize Trip from Sorong, and its not only dive cruise, they do trekking snorkeling kayaking, and adventure cruise… Reasonable price with nice wooden sailing boat.
Hi Gilles, Thank you for stopping by here.
If you wish you collaborate with Discover Your Indonesia, please get in touch through email 🙂
Have a great day!
Well, thanks for explaining just how hugely expensive this place is. The cost of boat trips in Indonesia is allways a joke, but it seems like the price for most other things in this place is also rediculous.
Unfortunately the price of petrol in Papua is really expensive. It makes life expensive for everyone on the island 🙁 Hopefully with better infrastructure things will get cheaper.
do you have any contact of ferry operator from Sorong to Waisai?
I don’t have, sorry.
Thanks for the great post. I really want to go to raja ampat but I travel by myself and am on a budget, please could you send me the info about the 6d/5n tour?
Sorry don’t have any recommendation at the moment. Anyway, will send you details on email about Raja Ampat that I hope can help your travel planning.
Murah banget yaaa kak … Cuman 45 juta buat 10 hari #KeprukCelengan #LaluDigampar
Bismillah semoga kesampean ke R4
Hahaha mahal banget itu :'(
Hello,me and my boyfriend will be in raja ampat next week but haven’t arranged any accommodation as all seem really expensive,if we take our tent with us is it suitable for camping? Thank you!
We went camping as well last time, but it was arranged by the travel organiser. Have you checked this website? Maybe they have cheaper options. All the best for your travels.
Saya dan istri berencana untuk liburan ke Raja Ampat. Tapi kita masih bingung mencari yang urusin akomodasi dan tour selama disana. Apa bisa minta kontak orang yang bisa bantu untuk hal tersebut. Terima kasih banyak
Mohon maaf atas keterlambatan balasan ini. Saya akan kirimkan email ya!