Long hailed as a fantasy destination, the Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia’s West Papua is currently luring travelers of all kinds with its guarantees of a tropical island escape infused with adventure. At first glance, the marvels of Raja Ampat come with a hefty price tag. However, researching Raja Ampat could be a reality for people on a budget.
Getting Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat is only accessible from Sorong on the West Papuan mainland. From there, buy the $10 ticket for the public express ferry. Airfare to Sorong can cost upwards of $500; however, keep an eye on specials out of Indonesian airlines such as Silk and Lion that may halve the cost. Intrepid travelers with flexible schedules can elect to go for the whole journey part of the ship through the Pelni shipping line. Second-class tickets cost between $30-$50, and ships leave from many ports in Indonesia. The trip may take from days to over a week.
Stay in Raja Ampat
One-time, western-owned resorts, and liveaboard dive boats were once the only options for staying inside Raja Ampat. Now, because of the community-based tourism project, the collection of homestays has cropped up on a few of the most pristine islands of Raja Ampat. At $20-$40 per night for a double room, these homestays are a lot more affordable than their competition while offering more a glimpse into the Papuan culture. Rooms are very basic and reflect the ease of island lifestyle. Still, as many are stilted bungalows atop crystal clear water, even the atmosphere compensates for the absence of amenities.
With petrol prices, artificially inflated ship travel is one of the costliest components of visiting Raja Ampat. Selecting an island to stay based on their proximity to your activities when seeking for saving is essential. The islands situated in the Dampier Strait are easily reachable from Waisai and close to fantastic dive or snorkel areas. Arborek can be close to manta ray dive, snorkel sites, and hosts a tiny Papuan village. Kri provides pristine white sand beaches and among the region’s best dive sites offshore. Moreover, Gam and Waigeo are all terrific for hiking, wildlife watching, and kayaking.
Most homestays provide a chance to experience the underwater wonders of Raja Ampat to get a portion of the cost of resorts and liveaboard boats. Yenkoranu Homestay on Kri provides a seven-night diving and remaining bundle for about $600. You can compare it with $1,800 weekly at Kri Eco Resort. If your homestay does not provide diving, they usually can arrange it. Diving package from the homestay demands extra vigilance to make sure that guides are correctly certified, and equipment is well maintained. Standards are improving, but with harsh conditions, Raja Ampat should only be attempted by experienced divers.
With shallow reefs and marine life visible at all seasons, snorkeling is an excellent option for non-divers or sailors looking to save. Most of the homestays in Raja Ampat supply boat charters and rent equipment for about $5 per day. Moreover, if you want to trek and wildlife viewing, it is best performed using a neighborhood guide. And if you’re going to explore more the islands of Raja Ampat, you can go by kayak. Kayaking is cheaper than sailing to find the islands.
Splitting the Prices
Traveling along with others is the most excellent way to make Raja Ampat more affordable. Boat transfers to homestays or charters for activities are pricey but made to be shared between five to six people, bringing the price as low as $5 per person sometimes. When other guests arrive, ask your homestay to organize your trip around the same time, if possible. Otherwise, the marine park office where everyone must purchase a permit or the ferry ride to Waisai provides opportunities to find travel partners once they arrive.
Before you plan a trip to Raja Ampat, arrange your optimal budget first, and make sure you read more about Raja Ampat by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.