On one hand, you’re unlikely to be asking the question “is Raja Ampat worth visiting?” literally at this point. If you’re invested enough in traveling to Indonesia’s castaway islands to trying and dissuade yourself from going, you’ll almost certainly make the journey.
On the other hand, the length and difficulty of the journey to reach Raja Ampat means it’s good idea to be 100% committed before you set off. Given the expanse of the Indonesian archipelago, getting to Raja Ampat from Jakarta can take longer than the journey from many other cities in Southeast Asia.
Whether you’ve navigated to this website for practical tips, or want a more esoteric idea of how it feels to be in Indonesia’s loneliest paradise, I’m glad you’re here. Shall we get started?
How to Get to Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is far, even if you start your journey toward it from within Indonesia. To start, you’ll need to fly (likely from Jakarta or Bali) to Makkasar, on Sulawesi island, then connect from there to Sorong. Once you arrive in Sorong, you’ll need to take a ferry to Waisai (which might depart the next morning, necessitating you spend a night there).
This—the fact that getting there takes the better part of the day, even from elsewhere in Indonesia—is much of what you need to decide that Raja Ampat is worth visiting before you make the journey. Throughout my travels I’ve made several long journeys to destinations that didn’t end up being worth it. Trust me—this is not a mistake you want to repeat, particularly not in a country as stressful as Indonesia.
What to Do in Raja Ampat (if You Go)
Hit the beach
The good news? Raja Ampat’s beaches are all amazing, featuring sugar-white sand and some of the clearest waters you’ll ever see. The bad news? Since everywhere in the archipelago outside the island where you choose to stay will only be navigable by boat, mindless beach-hopping is difficult. To riff on an old adage, where you’re planted!
Take a boat trip
Indeed, the “journey not the destination” element is arguably part of what makes Raja Ampat worth visiting. Boating between its various islands is a key part of appreciating how beautiful it is, particularly if you aren’t a scuba diver and won’t be able to experience the undersea world.
Go scuba diving
Of course, if you are a diver, then diving hot spots like Manta Ridge, Cape Kri and Cross Wreck definitely need to be on your bucket list. Before you travel, I encourage you to decide whether you plan to stay on a live-aboard during your trip, or take day excursions from a dive resort on the island.
Scuba diving is a big part of why I consider Raja Ampat worth visiting, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. You can still see a great of marine life even if you only snorkel. This is due both to the clarity of the water, as well as the sheer quantity and variety of sea life that calls the Raja Ampat Marine Park home.
Hike through the jungle
As you’ll probably notice from my pictures, I did not make it to Wayag, the famous Raja Ampat viewpoint that allows you to get a panorama of the archipelago’s seemingly endless array of islands. That’s the bad news. The good news? All the islands in Raja Ampat offer plenty of scenic hiking, even if most don’t lead you to a lookout.
Is Raja Ampat Expensive?
Raja Ampat isn’t cheap, let’s put it that way. In addition to the national park entrance fee (which was over $100 before Covid-19—it may get higher in the post-pandemic era), you’ll need to pay for accommodation. Even simple Raja Ampat guesthouses like Sunset Homestay can cost as much as 50 USD per night, which is very expensive by Indonesian standards.
Conversely, proper dive resorts such as Agusta Eco Resort can cost 200 USD or more per night, not including the costs of the dives themselves. As you can see, high prices are another reason you should be 100% sure you think that Raja Ampat is worth visiting before you go there.
Other FAQ About Visiting Raja Ampat
Why should you visit Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat features Indonesia’s most beautiful, unspoiled beaches and its best scuba diving. This is due largely to the fact that it’s part of a protected natural reserve, whose entry fees have so far insulated it from the environment damage that mass tourism can cause.
Is Raja Ampat safe?
Raja Ampat itself is safe, presuming that you don’t lie about your abilities as a scuba diver, or fall off a cliff while hiking. However, surrounding West Papua province (particularly on the mainland of Papua New Guinea island) can be hazardous due to civil strife between Indonesians and the island’s indigenous people.
What country is Raja Ampat in?
Technically speaking, Raja Ampat is in Indonesia. However, some Papuans believe that the Raja Ampat archipelago (as well as Indonesia’s West Papua province) actually belong to Papua New Guinea, and that the Indonesian government illegally occupies this land and these waters.
The Bottom Line
Is Raja Ampat worth visiting? The short answer is yes—there are few other beaches like it, and certainly none elsewhere in Indonesia. On the other hand, not all travelers will find the stress of reaching Raja Ampat worth it, particularly those who don’t find themselves put off by the beaches of Bali, however inferior those ones may be. A trip to Raja Ampat can also be a stretch if you simply aren’t spending a long time in Indonesia. Want to seamlessly integrate Raja Ampat into your next Indonesia trip? Hire me as your Travel Coach—and let me sweat the details.