The Papua Blog

How to get to Raja Ampat

In this article, we share our personal insights on how to get to Raja Ampat — The adventure before your actual adventure begins!

Words and photos by Laura Sakalian

Often described as the last paradise on earth, the Raja Ampat Islands are situated far to the east of Indonesia and require a lengthy journey to reach. Though accessibility has improved in recent years, there are still several tips worth knowing to ensure as smooth a journey as possible.

Sorong is located in the Indonesian province of West Papua and serves as the gateway to the Raja Ampat islands. Geographically, Sorong is not part of Raja Ampat, but its airport (airport code: SOQ) is the nearest to the paradise archipelago, making it the starting point for nearly all visitors. You fly to Sorong and from there, you either directly embark on your cruise or, for most accommodations, take the public ferry to Waisai, the main harbor in Raja Ampat.

Getting to Sorong
Most international travelers enter Indonesia via Jakarta (airport code: CGK) and then directly fly onward to Sorong. Garuda Indonesia operates a convenient night flight on this route, allowing you to arrive in Sorong early in the morning: perfect for catching a ferry or embarking on your cruise!

Pro tip: Several international airlines offer code-share tickets with Garuda Indonesia. This allows you to book a ticket from your departure point all the way to Sorong. Code-sharing tickets provide advantages in case of flight delays or cancellations.

Now you can finally combine Bali and Raja Ampat. Given that the island of Bali is Indonesia’s most famous travel destination, it’s worth mentioning that Garuda Indonesia recently began offering a direct flight between Bali’s Denpasar airport (airport code: DPS) and Sorong. This night flight also arrives in Sorong in the early morning, though, as of this writing, it is not offered daily!

There are several airlines and routes that can take you to Sorong. We prefer to fly with Garuda Indonesia as they are one of the most punctual airlines in the world. Alternatively, we can recommend Batik Air, the premium carrier of the large Lion Air group. Whether you are flying from Jakarta, Bali or another Indonesian airport, we recommend using or to search for and book domestic air tickets in Indonesia. Both sites feature user-friendly navigation, offer multiple languages, and accept various forms of payment.

Example: from Paris to Sorong in a code-sharing ticket
Not yet daily: Garuda’s direct flight from Bali to Sorong

As said already, when you have arrived in Sorong you haven’t arrived in Raja Ampat yet. The islands of Raja Ampat are still a boat trip away. The next step will depend on your travel plans and on your budget.

When staying in a guesthouse or most of the smaller boutique hotels, you will usually need to take the public ferry from Sorong Harbor to Waisai Harbor on Waigeo Island. To do this, first, take a taxi from Sorong Airport to the harbor, which takes 10 minutes and costs IDR 100,000 (fixed price, no bargaining). Upon arrival at the harbor, head to the ticket office located right next to the pier. Simply observe where everyone else is heading and follow the locals. The public ferry to Waisai departs twice a day, at 9 AM and 2 PM, taking about 2 hours for the crossing. A one-way ticket was IDR 125,000 the last time we checked. There is also a first class for double the price. It has AC, but we don’t think it’s any more comfortable.

Here is one of our hand-picked boutique hotels

Waisai is the largest town in Raja Ampat, and most goods and travelers entering Raja Ampat pass through it. Once you arrive here, you will typically be picked up by your accommodation’s boatman and taken to your lodging by private speedboat. The duration of this final leg can vary from anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your accommodation’s location.

Good to know: When booking with us, we always ensure that someone meets you at Sorong Airport and assists you in navigating to the harbor, ticket office, and the ferry.

Premium hotels and resorts may offer a boat shuttle service directly from Sorong to their location, bypassing the public ferry. For this option, a powerful and large speedboat is needed for the crossing. Otherwise, you might spend more time on the water, and the ride can even be dangerous. Not many accommodations own such large and powerful boats, and these private boat shuttles therefore come at a high price or are offered complimentary only once a week, limiting your flexibility in choosing arrival/departure days. In summary, a private transfer can be quite advantageous, but it’s not always the best option and may incur a significant extra cost.

Here is one of our hand-picked premium resorts

If you’ve booked a cruise, you likely won’t need to worry about any of this, as most cruises depart from Sorong Harbor. Thus, upon arrival at Sorong Airport, you’ll be greeted by a crew member and escorted directly to your vessel. Once aboard, enjoy a welcome drink and prepare to set sail.

Here is one of our hand-picked luxury cruises

With a café on board: the public ferry to Waisai
The ticket office at Sorong Harbor

The summary is straightforward: You need to fly to Sorong and from there, you need to take a boat. This can either be the public ferry to Waisai followed by a speedboat, directly by speedboat, or aboard a yacht. When booking your Raja Ampat holiday with a specialized travel agency like ours, you should receive an individual itinerary that considers your arrival and departure times, ensuring a smooth arrival and onward journey.

It is a long way to get there, but the journey is worth it!

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