Diving and staying in guest houses in Raja Ampat

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
10
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
3
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
8
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
10
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
2
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
7
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
87 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Asia
country
Indonesia
Length of time
Around a week
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 1,200
Time of year visited
November
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
5th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 5% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

Raja Ampat is about as close to tropical paradise as you can get – white sand beaches, turquoise waters and jungle islands, with some of the best scuba diving in the world.  Plus, it is still remote enough that you will have beaches and whole dive sites to yourself – in short, an adventurous scuba diver’s dream

 

The key question comes down to how much you’re prepared to spend.  On one hand, you can stay in an eco lodge or a live-aboard yacht with the various “luxuries” that go with them, and the luxury price tag . . . for two people for 7 days and an average of 2 dives a day, around USD4,000 for the eco lodge, USD8,000 for the liveboard .  On the other, you can stay in the local homestays that are dotted all around the islands, are super cheap (USD900 including diving), right on the beach, but will be some of the most basic accommodation you will have stayed in.  We went for the later as we were short on cash and, whilst it was at times difficult to sleep, it gave us that real Robinson Crusoe feeling in . . . well . . . paradise

 

If an adventurous diver, Raja Ampat, however you do it, is a must

highlights

#1 The white sand beaches . . . that you are staying literally ON for your stay in the homestay. They are very basic, but there is something amazing about waking up to this

#2 The world class diving - often with fish so dense you can barely see through them

#3 Seeing some of the "big stuff" - in this case a Black Tip Reef Shark and Napoleon Fish in the background

#4 Seeing some of the "small stuff" - in this case the super rare Mandarin Fish

#5 The glorious sunsets you can enjoy each night on the beach

#6 Coming to the end of one of the epic drift cave dives

#6 Chilling out by the beach in one of the shacks on stilts over the water

#7 Taking the boat through some of the gorgeous island settings to find your perfect dive sites

#7 Arriving to this

Travel Tips

  • Key tip – Raja Ampat really is remote.  Don’t expect roads, shops, cell reception.  Do expect jungle islands, beaches, shacks and world class diving
  • The diving:
    • Blue Magic and Sardines Reef were world-class.  We dived in the following dive sites: Sawandarek; Cape Mansuar; The Passage; Koh Reef, Mike’s point; Yenkoranu house reef; Blue Magic; Sardines Reef; Chicken Reef.  They were all great in their own ways, but the ones that stood out for us were Blue Magic and Sardines Reef for the sheer amount of fish and big stuff; and the Passage for the fun of having to move in a drift through the caves
    • Take responsibility for your own dive safety – the local dive guides have grown up diving so are super confident, including confident enough to make quick changes underwater.  Not all guests are though, so my serious advice is to 1. Make sure you check your dive gear thoroughly before each dive; 2. Generally be even more safety conscious that normal.  Typically on other dives, you rely to an extent on the dive guide.  In Raja Ampat, the dive guides have your best interest at heart, it’s just that they aren’t quite as obsessed with safety as other places.  Stay safe, because you’re a long way from the nearest decompression chamber
    • There are actually some great spots just off the shore from the Yenkoranu Homestay.  I’d recommend a couple of days chilling by the beach and heading off with a snorkel
  • We stayed for a week at Yenkoranu Homestay on Pulau Kri, which is ideally located.  USD50 for 2 people per night for a private room and all meals.  USD35 per dive, including all equipment and the dive guide.  We had a fantastic time – the food and options for activities were great and the diving and location were simply stunning. We really did leave with some especially fond memories.  But for anyone planning on staying here, and to avoid disappointment after the considerable time and money you will have spent getting there, its worth being aware of two things:
    • 1. It is super basic.  Not backpacker style basic – that is typically air con, wifi, access to amenities like cold drinks, a proper building etc. Instead, the homestay is staying in a wooden / bamboo hut with no fresh water and rats on the roof at night style basic.  You’ll really only use the hut to sleep and spend the rest of the day at the beach, but do be prepared for a bit of a rough night.  That is unless you are the kind of person who enjoys camping / living like the local people of Papua or potentially one of the fortunate who genuinely don’t mind in anyway where you sleep
    • 2. The staff are truly shocking at confirmations of bookings!  Even if you’ve confirmed multiple times by email, phone, on their website and text, be fully prepared to arrive and it be the first they’ve heard from you.  When we arrived off the speed boat at they had no record and we were sent for the first nights to a homestay 10mins down the beach – and considering how remote the place is, it’s not like you have a choice.  We heard of multiple people having these problems, but, to be fair, we went in 2016 so may well have changed since then
    • If you can deal with the two above points – go for it
  • Getting there – you will need to fly to Sorong and then get the ferry to Waisai, which only takes 2 hours once it gets going, but give yourself plenty of time for delays leaving.  From Waisai, either have the transport arranged with your homestay or head to the Waisai Tourist Information Centre where there will most likely be a queue of other travellers looking for boats.  There they can put you on one and share the cost (around USD50) between the passengers

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone