Getting this far often raises many questions. In our FAQ Raja Ampat list, we have summarised all the questions our customers have asked us over the years. Here you can get an overview of all the important information such as, travel formalities, what you should know on your first trip to Raja Ampat or Indonesian and many more, almost like a guide to Raja Ampat for beginners,
If you still cannot find your answer in Frequently Asked Questions, please use the link below to send us your questions.
Bordered by Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia, Indonesia is the largest archipelago and the fourth most populous country in the world. Consisting of five main islands (Sumatra, Jawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua) with 33 provinces and 30 smaller archipelagos, it has a total of 17,508 islands, of which about 6,000 are inhabited. The Republic of Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia and stretches 5,150 km between the Australian and Asian continental mainland, dividing the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the Equator. Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital. The title “Indonesia” is derived from Greek words meaning “Indian Islands”.
It wasn’t until the 16th century that knowledge of Raja Ampat began to develop among Europeans, with the arrival of the Portuguese.
In 1545, Ynigo Ortiz de Retes arrived, naming New Guinea and claiming it for the King of Spain. Several failed gold explorations followed, but it was only in 1714 that Spain was forced to relinquish control to Holland and England.
The Dutch and English had long been interested in Irian Jaya’s trade commodities of nutmeg, massio bark, trepang (dried sea cucumbers), tortoise shells, pearls, birds of paradise skins and slaves. The British finally proclaimed a Protectorate in the east in 1884, and the Dutch established two permanent posts in the west in 1899. The boundaries were settled in 1895 and 1910.
It was World War II that finally put New Guinea on the map in Western history, when it became a fierce battleground between the Japanese and Allied forces. When the end of World War II came, the Dutch handed over the territories to Indonesia.
Above the shorelines of Raja Ampat lies white sandy beaches, cliffs between 500 and 900 meters tall, mangroves, and lush green vegetation on all the islands scattered throughout the archipelago. The contrast of colours between the oceanic turquoise and the deep green jungle create a feeling of peace and fascination which will feed any adventurous soul.
Living on more than 13,400 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million for their population, comprising over 200 ethnic groups with their own languages and dialects. The country has six official languages Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. The Religion of Raja Ampat is Christian and Muslim, however the people still hold some of their own traditional tribal beliefs which are more nature-focused. You will find a number of mosques and churches in Waisai, Sorong and other location in Papua. Many of the smaller islands have big churches as the centre hold of their village.
Some villages in Raja Ampat still practice an indigenous conservation method called “sasi,” where certain areas are closed to fishing activities during certain periods. The opening of this sasi ritual is usually celebrated with a traditional harvest and is very interesting to watch.
The universal language in Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesian which everyone except for some much older residents will be able to speak.
Culture: Papua people are very friendly and welcoming. Please be mindful and respectful of their culture and when walking around their villages it is recommend to at least have shorts and t-shirt on. If you do not know any local words, we recommended that you nod your head (like nodding a responsive “yes”). This is a typical way of addressing people. So, just nod your head!
Raja Ampat experiences typical weather to that of any tropical region, meaning sun, rain, warm sea breeze, wind, and repeat! There’s also a surprising variation in local weather conditions. It’s not unusual for example, to spend a beautiful sunny day on Gam, all the while watching rain pour down onto the Waigeo highlands a few kilometres away, on the other side of the bay. The weather in Indonesia can be unpredictable.
- Daylight: Raja Ampat lies on the equator and so enjoys a year-round day length of about twelve hours (~6.30am to 6.30pm)
- Air temperatures: are also reliably constant with a daytime average maximum of 31oC (89oF) and a nightly minimum of 25oC (78oF)
- Rainfall: Due to our tropical location, you can expect rainfall any day of the year. Rainfall is often short lived and localised. It’s not unusual to find yourself afloat on a calm, sunny ocean while rainstorms pass by on the horizon.
Windy Season: The windy season usually starts from July to mid-September. Some years we can experience a light windy season and other years stronger.
Days with strong winds which make sea conditions less pleasant. Again – that’s not every day! Underwater visibility isn’t affected, but choppy seas at this time of year can occasionally limit small boat travel between the islands. Locations on the northern shores of islands are the best protected at this time of year of which we have many sites we can still dive!
Raja Ampat is a year-round diving and Snorkelling destination. SO, what differentiates between high and low season? When is the best time to visit? What makes it the best time to visit?
Basically, calm seas plus the marine life that visit the area.
High Season: September to April.
This is considered high season, due to the calm condition of the sea and the amount of nutrients in the water, which draws marine life to the region. Usually you can expect (during this months) flat and confortable boat rides. Also, the main months for aggregations of Oceanic Mantas, Reef Mantas, Black Mantas.
Low Season: May to August.
It’s considered low season because, after April, due to the fact that there is less nutrients in the water that marine life departs the area. During these months it is unusual to find Oceanic Mantas, Black Mantas, or Reef Mantas.
On the other hand, since there is no plankton , the water is clearer and has greater visibility than the rest of the year. But, if your lucky, every year for a couple of weeks, in May or June, we can see Oceanic Manta rays (up to 5 meters long) at dive sites like Blue Magic, just 20 minutes from the resort.
Also, you can be surprised by a day of choppy sea, and rough boat rides.
The rest of the marine life is equally impressive throughout the year.
Raja Ampat is covered by Eastern Indonesia Standard Time and is 9 hours ahead of GMT. Papua is one hour ahead of Bali and two hours ahead of Jakarta
The local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (Rp). The exchange rate fluctuates frequently. The currency used by most of Asia is the US$.
If you need local currency, there are a number of ATM machines and banks in Sorong.
The nearest hospital is in Waisai, called “Rumah Sakit Umun”, 30 minutes away by boat. The hospital is quite new, but bear in mind the remoteness and differences in standards. You will receive treatment by a general doctor for any minor complication, and for a specialist doctor you will need to go to Sorong. For more specialised facilities and wide variety of treatments, the nearest would be Makassar (UPG) or Manado.
In Waisai there is a hyperbaric chamber and the possibility to get decompression treatments in the case of a dive accident. The service in this facility is not realible, as the staff is not 100% on-site available all the time.
In the case of suspect of decompression symptoms, we will give you O2 at the resort while calling your diving insurance to get instructions from a specialist in hyperbaric medicine. Depending on your condition / if we get instructions, we will transfer you to Waisai Hospital. There, it is likely that you continue Oxygen treatment and monitor basic Life Support, while your insurance gives instructions to the doctors at the hospital.
In case of a serious emergency, we will take you to Sorong, where you can find a better equipped hospital. The second nearest (and more experienced) Chamber is in Manado and Makassar, which means that you will need to fly.
With the exception of visitors from the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (who are permitted up to 30 days’ entry to Indonesia without an Indonesian visa), all visitors to Indonesia must obtain a VISA in order to enter the country.
A VISA on arrival will be given to citizens of Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America, Austria, Belgium, India, Ireland, Kuwait, Luxemburg, Maldives, Egypt, Oman, Portuguese, Qatar, The People of Republic China, Russian, Saudi Arabian, Spain, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece , Iran, Iceland, Laos PDR, Liechtenstein, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nederland, Suriname, Sweden, Aljazair, Czechoslovakia, Fiji, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Panama, Slovakia, Slovenia, Rumania, Tunisia.
The visa on arrival is valid for 30 days and is free of charge,
If you want to stay longer than 30 days you may extended (only once) .
The fee for this visa is payable upon landing. It is US$35 for a extendable 30-day visa.
The official entry requirements for the issuance of a 30 or 7 day visa-on arrival:
1. The passport must be from one of the countries listed above.
2. The passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 (six) months from the date of entry into Indonesia.
3. Payment of US$10 or US$25 must be made at the gateway, depending on the length of visa required.
4. Onward or return tickets are compulsory.
5. Visitors must enter and exit through one of the 15 airports or 21 seaports officially approved as an “international gateway” by the Indonesian Immigration Department.
VISA Application at Indonesian Embassies or Consulates
Other nationals must apply for a visa at Indonesian Embassies or Consulates in their home country. In addition, the visa cannot be replaced with any other immigration documents. A Visa Officer shall administer the visa in the presence of the applicant concerned.
You may find information on contact details for Indonesia embassies and consulates at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, on the following direct-link: http://www.deplu.go.id/
Do you want to stay longer?
You have two options;
1. – Extend your visa on arrival, in any Immigration office in Indonesia, for up to 30 days. There is an Immigration office in Sorong. The office phone number is +62951321915. You must apply for this extension before your visa expires. This usually takes around three days and costs US$50. You can extend your visa on arrival only once.
2. -You can apply for an Indonesian Tourist visa at any Indonesian Embassy around the world. It usually takes three working days and it costs around US$50.
An Indonesian tourist visa has a maximum validity of up to 3 months, but permits a stay of no longer than 60 days within this 3-month timeframe.
NOTE: Since the situation may change, we recommend you contact an embassy to confirm the latest information relevant to you.
The penalty charged for overstaying a visa is typically 1,000,000IDR per day.
This will depend on your flights shedules, to avoid spending a night in Sorong, you should arrive before 13.00 and depart after 14.00.
There are many hotels in Sorong, however we recommend the following:
- Swiss Belhotel (Close to ferry terminal)
- Fave Hotel (close to Airport)
- Vega Hotel (Close to Airport)
- Dive certification or other proof that you are a diver, there is minimal Internet connection so we will not be able to check on-line.
- Medical/dive Insurance coverage – proof or print out(you can also e-mail it to us pre-arrival to save paper)
- We recommend that you bring a torch/head torch, for night time walks or animal viewing; the Cus-Cus are frequently see around the resort at night. Our birdwatching treks start early morning so the first 30 minutes you will be trekking in the dark.
- Bring a sun hat, sunglasses, sun block (Eco –friendly), a sarong, extra batteries and tampons! You can’t find them in Sorong.
- Our dress code is casual
- It is recommended that all travellers bring their own set of medicine (ibuprofen, cortisone, antihistamine, and medicine for fever, cold, diarrhea, etc), since it is really difficult to get here. You should include antibiotic ointment and bandaids, to treat all skin irritations.
- You should bring anything that you cannot live without. This includes all cash that you will need for your entire stay in Raja Ampat. Remember that you will be very remote.
- Finally, remember that all domestic airlines have a maximum 20kg of baggage allowance. So, just pack lightly and only the essentials!
- Rain Jacket/Wind breaker or light sweater
We hope this helps!
- Diving Gloves – we have a policy of no diving gloves to keep in terms with our conservation projects.
- Excessive Plastic Packaging: Try removing all excess plastic from items you are bringing to help minimize rubbish left at the resort. The Indonesian waste management systems are poor and we dispose of our rubbish as environmentally friendly as possible – less plastic is always good!
- Fishing equipment – NO fishing is allowed in Raja Ampat, exceptions are given to locals
- Non-rechargeable batteries – It is impossible to recycle them in Indonesia, if you bring, please take home with you.
- Bath & beach towels – we provide for you (pack light!)
We use 3G or what we call 1/2G, which is enough to check emails and Whatsapp messages but not enough to support multiple voice or video calls. We open the signal from 5pm-7:30pm for guest use.
If you would like to have internet access all day, you can purchase an Indonesian Sim card (Telkomsel) and buy one of our internet packets.
Please be aware that our signal relies on a local mast which, due to it´s remoteness, can be unreliable. Very occasionally we lose signal for few days.
According to the Center for Desease Control and Prevention, Papua is a malaria zone.
The recommended profilaxis: Atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or tafenoquine
The drug resistance being: Chloroquine (P. falciparum and P. vivax)
We are lucky that our location is beach front, so here we have few mosquitoes at Biodiversity Resort.
We recommend you to follow the advice of your local doctor or health centre.
It is also recommended that you take all precautions as directed, plus, sleep under a mosquito net (which we have in all of our cottages) and use a repellent if you need to.
We are running a 24hrs fully solar photovoltaic electricity solution, to satisfy our electricity needs. This is a great improvement and continues to move us forward in our “Eco-Concept” Model. Of course, the electricity from the sun is very precious, so we kindly ask all of our guests to be mindful and not leave any unnecessary lights turned on.
The power supply is 220 volts. The outlets are for plugs with two rounded pins.
Yes, we have a phone signal on the island, but it is not always good. The best operator for the area is Telkomsel
On the last day of your stay with us, we will ask you to stop by reception to have a look over your extra charge bill and make payment. We accept:
Cash in EURO, US Dollars and IDR – Rupiah
Cash notes must be new print, clean, crisp with no folds or marks. We only accept 50 and 100 notes. Change will be given in local currency at daily “sell” rate.
Credit cards – We accept Visa and Mastercard
We have to add a 4% surcharge to cover bank charges . Your final bill amount will need to be transferred from Euro to IDR before we can make the credit card transaction.
We can organize a nannie/babysitter at your request. You can request via e-mail before arrival or when you are at the resort, if you give us a days’ notice it can be arranged.
We use the local ladies for the village Yenbeser who have years of experience with their own kids. We offer half day (8:00 – 12:00) and full day (8:00 – 17:00) services.
Local Indonesian cuisine straight from Papua with a few western dishes mixed in.
Here at Biodiversity, all meals are homemade with 100% love. We source everything we can locally, not only to reduce our carbon footprint and provide our guests with the freshest possible food but also to support the local economy and give you the chance to try local products. Local fishermen often bring their catch straight to the Resort, so our guests can always enjoy fresh fish!
We do not use MSG in the preparation of our food, use locally produced coconut oil wherever possible, and NEVER use destructive palm oil products – we love Orangutans and want their home to stay intact!
We do not use any beef or pork in our cooking as animal agriculture is the single most damaging industry to the environment and do not include shrimps in our menu either – shrimp trawling is the most destructive and unsustainable type of fishing in the world with a very high percentage of bycatch.
We’re delighted to welcome gluten-free eaters, vegetarians & vegans – meals compliant with all of these dietry requirements are available on request.
How many dives can I do per day?
There are three scheduled boat dives per day, as well as either a mandarin or a night dive on request.
The House Reef is available for diving from 08:00 to 18:00 every day for buddy teams or guided dives.
6:30am – We will load and set up your equipment in the morning, However as a diver it is still your responsibility to double check your equipment.
7:45am – Please bring everything that you require for the morning dives as you will be briefed on the sites you will be doing to and this is very important to listen to.
8:00am – The boats leave for all morning and full day excursions.
12:30 – We return from the morning dives.
3:15pm – Meeting time for the afternoon dive, with briefing.
17:00pm – We return from the dive.
6:15pm – Meeting time for the night dives, with briefing
You will be out the water by 19:30 which is when dinner is served, do not worry we will keep food reserved for you.
5:15pm – Meeting time for the Mandarin dive, with briefing
Please take note dive sites are planned in the afternoon for the following day, with the exception of changing if the weather changes unpredictably.
Yes, we have a wonderful house reef:
- Unguided dives cost 10€, and guests must be at the Advanced Open Water level or the equivalent.
- Guided house reef dive is 20€.
The House Reef is available for diving from 08:00 to 18:00 every day for buddy teams or guided dives.
We keep the groups to 6 per dive guide maximum, normally 4 per dive guide. Please always stay with the group this is for your safety as conditions can change on the dive sites.
You can hire a private guide; however we would need advanced notice before your arrival so we can make the arrangements – please note there is a charge of Euro 20 per dive for this.
Our tanks only have yoke fittings. If you use DIN, we do have a few adapters available. However, you cannot buy them here, so it is better to bring your own adapter, if you have them, to make sure that there is one available for you.