Raja Ampat, Indonesia

The Loneliest Paradise

Indonesia’s Raja Ampat islands are far, even if you start your journey toward them from within the country. From Jakarta or Bali, for example, you must fly to the central Indonesian city of Makassar (or, in rare cases, Ambon) on the evening of your first day of travel to catch a connecting flight to Sorong, in West Papua province, departing at 3 or 4 o’clock the next morning.

You’ll arrive in Sorong at around seven or eight, which gives you a minimum of six hours to kill until your ferry’s scheduled departure time—it will probably be late. Approximately 2-3 hours after you depart Sorong you’ll arrive in Waisai, where a boat from one of Raja Ampat’s many homestays will be waiting for you.

An hour—or, more likely, two—later, you’ll be wherever in Raja Ampat you happen to be sleeping. (In case you haven’t been keeping count, you’re now nearly 24 hours after you started your journey—and again, this is only if you’re already in Indonesia.)

I mention these facts and figures not only to discourage you from visiting Raja Ampat, if you’re thinking of traveling there yourself, but to emphasize the isolation of the islands, whose Indonesian name translates to “Four Kings.” In many ways, Raja Ampat is the world’s loneliest paradise.

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Where to Stay in Raja Ampat

I mentioned homestays as I was explaining how to get to Raja Ampat, and while the islands boast plenty (I personally stayed at Mambetron Homestay), there’s plenty of luxury accommodation in Raja Ampat as well. From dive lodges like Raja Ampat Dive Resort and a wide selection of liveaboards to higher-end accommodations that have nothing to do with scuba, such as NAME and NAME, there are almost as many places to stay in Raja Ampat as there are islands.

Things to Do in Raja Ampat

Broadly speaking, there are two follow up questions you should ask yourself when determining whether Raja Ampat is worth visiting: Do you like to scuba dive; and are you cool with working more than relaxing?

The Best Diving in Raja Ampat

If you’ve come here after researching Raja Ampat on Google, it’s probably no surprise to you that Raja Ampat is a hot spot for diving. With this being said, you don’t need to be a scuba diver to enjoy Raja Ampat, even if diving hot spots like Manta Ridge, Cape Kri and Cross Wreck are perhaps even more gorgeous than the above-water highlights of this jewel-like group of islands.

Being submerged also makes Raja Ampat into an all-year destination, as it literally shields you from the Raja Ampat rainy season, which takes place from approximately May-September every year.

Where is Raja Ampat’s Viewpoint?

Underwater photos notwithstanding, if there’s one image that’s iconic of Raja Ampat, it’s ones like this, taken from a viewpoint high above the islands. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go there—it was quite a trek from the island where I was staying, not to mention a big expense I didn’t want to bear after one month in Indonesia.

In my case, the Wayag viewpoint required a round-trip boat journey of about four hours—to answer my own second question, I wasn’t particularly cool with working more than I relaxed—and a cost of $100 USD.


Is Raja Ampat Worth the Trouble?

I hesitate to use the word “trouble” in the same sentence as a paradisiacal place like Raja Ampat, but in addition to the fact that it’s far away, it’s expensive. The aforementioned high cost of boats notwithstanding, dive prices are steep (by Indonesian standards, at least) and even homestays run over $50 per night, to say nothing of the high fees assessed upon entry to Raja Ampat Marine Park.

On the other hand, Raja Ampat’s remote location and the relative expense you incur getting and staying there keep tourist numbers low. Part of what makes Raja Ampat such a paradise, its scenery notwithstanding, is the fact that almost no people go there!

The Bottom Line

It’s impossible to say whether Raja Ampat has the best beaches in Indonesia, let alone in Southeast Asia, but one thing is for certain: It’s a completely unique experience. Moreover, its protected status and the relatively high cost of travel there keep it more or less tourist free, which means that it’s an exclusive paradise, in addition to being a lonely one.

About The Author

is the author of 847 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Trusted Traveller February 26, 2014 at 5:43 am

Oh wow this place is stunning. Totally worth the long journey!

Bethaney February 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Such pretty beaches and such clear water!

Robert Schrader March 3, 2014 at 7:44 am

It was almost unbelievable!

Robert Schrader March 3, 2014 at 7:47 am

It is. I wish I’d booked longer there!

Wira Nurmansyah March 5, 2014 at 2:19 am

Hello Robert, glad to see you pretty excited about my country Indonesia. I have visited Raja Ampat twice, maybe you could have a visit on my blog to see the photos here http://www.wiranurmansyah.com/through-raja-ampat


Robert Schrader March 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Oh wow, amazing photos. Thank you for sharing!

Sarah TravelCake March 6, 2014 at 1:16 am

I’ve had to skip Raja Ampat, but I’m pretty sure I would still like to go, despite how expensive and remote it is. I would do it for the scuba diving. I was informed they are woking hard to popularise the islands to get more tourism thus reducing general costs. Did you end up visiting the mainland of West-Papua as well?

Robert Schrader March 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

i very briefly visited the mainland, but would love to go back!

Suzana Widiastuti October 11, 2014 at 3:14 am

I envy you much! Visiting Raja Ampat is still on my wishlist, but someday I will be there. Someday, somehow….

Robert Schrader October 11, 2014 at 1:06 pm

You will get there, I am certain!

candrika November 3, 2014 at 6:34 am

I went to Raja Ampat 3 months ago and I’m curious from the pictures, did you stay or visited yenbeser village in gam island?

Robert Schrader November 3, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Nope 🙁 Couldn’t get the boat

Miles of Happiness March 15, 2015 at 7:04 am

It looks incredibly beautiful… A place I definitely want to see. It’s stunning

Lisa April 17, 2015 at 9:39 pm

I just booked a flight to Indonesia and was thinking of spending most of my time here. I’m not sure – is it worth it?

Robert Schrader April 20, 2015 at 8:47 am

It is definitely worth it, particularly if you dive. If you don’t dive, or enjoy the beach a great deal, you might get restless.

Dan Saba | Path XO November 4, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Hmm, having to consider the long journey to lonely paradise… well written! I’m in Bali now, but sounds like it might be for the next visit to Indonesia down the road, and maybe to spend it with someone too.

Robert Schrader November 6, 2015 at 1:43 pm

You should definitely visit Raja Ampat!

Sebastien Vervaeck December 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm

In 2010 me and my partner already visited Java, bali, lombok, komodo, flores… now looking and planning to travel to Sulawesi and Raja Amput.. How was it for you to manage flight bookings? I remember from in 2010 that booking with airlines like lion air and sorts to Sorong where hard to get… any recommendations on airliner?

Bako Gomimail January 3, 2016 at 9:33 am

Lately we’ve been using this app called traveloka. You might want to check it out here http://www.traveloka.com/en/?nc=1451834970986

Bethesda elizabeth September 25, 2017 at 11:57 am

I am Indonesian and raja ampat is still my bucket list. Thanks for visiting my country 🙂

Bethesda elizabeth September 25, 2017 at 11:59 am

Thanks for visiting my country

Robert Schrader September 28, 2017 at 10:00 am

Sama sama 🙂

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