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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If you know that Raja Ampat exists, you’ve probably seen pictures like this one, which depict several of the islands from above, emphasizing how pristine and untouched they are. Snapping a photo of my own in this vein was one of my primary goals of traveling to Raja Ampat, but it was unfortunately not to be.

Raja Ampat, you see, is a lonely paradise not only in terms of its distance from most anywhere in Indonesia, but also due to vast expanses of sea between its individual islands, which number far greater than four.

To provide you some perspective, traveling from Gam Island (where I stayed) to the Fam Islands, where many iconic Raja Ampat photos were taken, takes more than three hours by speedboat on a good day, although the two locations appear rather adjacent on the map.

This is good for many reasons. First and foremost, the difficulty of reaching Raja Ampat and of moving about once you get there (to say nothing of the expense) will always limit the number of people who travel here and thus, the development.

Secondly, low tourist numbers and open, clear seas around you on all sides means that when you’re not snorkeling or scuba diving, the ocean is essentially your personal swimming pool. And the water of Raja Ampat is without a doubt the clearest non-chlorinated water I’ve ever swum in.


Although Raja Ampat is home to the most isolated, idyllic and private beaches I’ve ever sunned my white ass on, it’s difficult for me to rank it against other versions of paradise I’ve visited around the world. Even the most remote among them, which was probably Koh Kradan island in Thailand, requires only a fraction of the time or money I spent traveling to Raja Ampat.

(Which, to recap, is at least 24 hours in transit and, conservatively speaking, 100 USD per day, more if you plan on diving two or three times per day.)

At the end of the day, Raja Ampat is a one-of-a-kind experience, so I would recommend visiting, unless you absolutely don’t have the time and/or money. After four days here, I can’t say I see myself returning, but I’m extremely glad I came in the first place – I’m sure you will be too.

About The Author

is the author of 789 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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{ 19 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

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