There are three options available for adventurous budget travellers looking to explore Raja Ampat. In no particular order, these are; organising everything yourself, joining a group tour or renting a cheap bungalow by the beach for a week. Whichever option you choose, you will need to get to Raja Ampat and there is only one practical way to do this: fly.
1. GETTING TO SORONG
Flight info presented here is aimed at international travellers seeking the quickest route to Raja Ampat from outside Indonesia and so ignores flights to Sorong from airports not serviced by international flights (Ambon, Jayapura etc).
Domine Eduard Osok Airport – SOQ
Sorong’s airport is Domine Eduard Osok (IATA code: SOQ) not Jefman Airport as some sources report. Jefman is an older airport (originally built by the Japanese during World War II) on an island off Sorong. There is also the Marinda Airport at Waisai, with twice weekly flights between it and Sorong. See below for information about Sorong-Waisai flights.
- There are no international flights into Sorong
- There are no direct (non-stop) flights from Bali to Sorong
From outside Indonesia:
- Lots of airlines fly from Southeast Asian hubs to Jakarta.
- Silk Air flies from Singapore to Makassar (flights codeshared with Singapore Airlines and Garuda Indonesia)
- Air Asia offers direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Makassar
Note that these are merely the most convenient entry points for international travellers bound for Sorong. There are other international airports in Indonesia, but to the best of our knowledge, none of those offer non-stop flights to Sorong. (Correct us if we’re wrong about that!)
From inside Indonesia:
- Use Traveloka, Tiket.com, Tiket2Indonesia or Skyscanner to check availability of flights from your departure point
- If you’re having trouble booking internal flights online, Mau ke Mana are reliable agents and can arrange ticket purchases for you
- If you want to experience sea travel in the archipelago, here’s Indonesia’s Pelni ship schedules.
Direct flights to Sorong
As Raja Ampat tourism grows, so do the number of flights available to Sorong. We used to publish a table of airlines and their flight times here, but the last few years’ growth in the available options has made it impractical for us to keep those up to date.
Instead, here’s a list of links to the airlines that fly direct (no stops) to Sorong from the most convenient international airports mentioned above. This information was current in November 2015. We recommend searching Traveloka to quickly find available flight dates and times from the Indonesian airport that best that suits you.
Manado to Sorong (MDC-SOQ): Lion (Wings Air)
2. SORONG AIRPORT TO HARBOR TRANSFERS
The taxi ride from Sorong airport to the ferry harbour takes around 10-20 minutes, depending on traffic, and costs around 100,000 Rupiah (~ USD10.00)
If you don’t have a lot of luggage you can get a lift on the back of a motorbike (ojek) for about 20,000 Rupiah (~USD2.00)
If you’re trying to keep costs as low as possible you can get there for 6000 Rupiah if you’re happy to walk a few hundred metres to the main road and catch the yellow public bimos (minibuses) to the city terminal, then transfer to the bimos heading for the harbour. Each leg of the trip is 3000 Rupiah – no news yet on how long that takes…
3. GETTING TO RAJA AMPAT ISLANDS FROM SORONG
There are three choices for making your own way from Sorong to the Raja Ampat islands:
3.1: Public Ferries
There are two ferry types (express and ‘slow boat’) that make the crossing between Sorong and Waisai. Waisai is on the island of Waigeo and is the capital of the Raja Ampat regency. Almost all of the accommodation options on this website provide pickup from Waisai.
Both the express ferries and the slow boat run every day and both types have departures from both Sorong and Waisai scheduled at around 2.00pm. Departures can often be delayed, so it’s worth asking someone to call the harbour if you’re running late. The current express ferry schedule is posted below.
The express ferry takes around two hours to make the crossing. The slow boat takes about four hours. Naturally, most travellers prefer the express boats!
At last report, slow boat tickets cost IDR 140,000 (~USD 14.00) and can be purchased either on the pier before boarding or on the boat itself. A limited number of private cabins are available if you want one. For the best deal ask one of the crew about these.
Express ferry tickets are IDR 130,000 for economy class, or IDR 220,000 for a VIP ticket. A VIP seat will give you an adjustable-back chair in an airconditioned room equipped with a state-of-the-art loud karaoke system that usually sees a lot of use. Tickets are sold on the wharf and at the Raja Ampat Tourism Office.
At Sorong harbour, the white and orange Bahari Express ferries can be found by going to the very end of the L-shaped pier. The express ferry is usually tied up alongside another ship at the end of dock and you have to cross that ship’s deck to board the ferry. The slow boat (normally the Fajar Mulia) is usually to be found on the right hand side of the jetty, at the corner of the “L”.
Express ferry schedule
The table below shows the express ferry schedule and was correct at January 22 2016.Schedules can change without notice. The Sorong Tourism Office and your accommodation provider will be able to provide up to date accurate ferry information. Ferry departures can sometimes be delayed. We experienced a delay of over 90 minutes on one occasion, as the ferry waited for late VIPs to show up. You’re taking a big risk by scheduling a 2.00pm Waisai departure to connect with a late afternoon flight out of Sorong!
Times shown in the table below are departure times. The ferry journey time is about two hours.
|DAY||SORONG TO WAISAI||WAISAI TO SORONG|
If you’re in a real hurry, you can charter speedboats to take you directly to your accommodation. The speedboat harbour is about 200m west of the ferry wharf. Speedboats are far more expensive (hundreds of dollars) and a lot less comfortable than the public ferries – you’d need a really compelling reason to charter one!
3.3: Sorong to Waisai flights
A 16 seat Twin Otter operated by Susi Air flies from Sorong to Waisai’s Marinda Airport and return. The route isn’t commercially viable and Susi Air only operates it thanks to a subsidy from the Raja Ampat government. As such, schedules can be changed without notice, so be sure to contact the airline to confirm the current schedule when planning your trip.
- Departs Sorong Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0830, arriving Waisai 0900
- Returns from Waisai Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0910, arriving Sorong 0940
- Cost (one way – August 2014): Adult or child > IDR 205,000 Infant > IDR 50,000
Contact numbers for bookings:
- Susi Air Sorong: +628114806709, +628114806710
- Susi Air Manokwari: +628112123932, +628114806705
- Susi Air’s website doesn’t yet show the Sorong-Waisai route (they inherited the service from the now defunct Merpati airline), so it’s not possible to book online. Current information is that bookings are only able to be made at the Sorong and Manokwari offices.
4. GETTING TO RAJA AMPAT ISLANDS FROM WAISAI
The simplest way to get to your accommodation from Waisai is to arrange a pickup when you book the accommodation. Most of the homestays listed on this website publish Waisai transfer prices.
The cost of transfer from Waisai to the islands is a sore point with many travellers. Boat transfer prices are more expensive than they should be and bargaining rarely yields a substantial discount on the asking prices. Be sure to let your host know if you think his transfer prices are too high. If you’re lucky enough to discover a good alternative, please let us all know by commenting below!
If you’d prefer to organise your own transport, your options are via Transwisata in Waisai (ask a transport operator at the port to take you there), or by seeing if you can find space in a homestay boat going to a place near the one you want. Homestay boat pickups are from the homestay boat harbour on the western side of the port (shown on the map below).
If your intention is to always be culturally sensitive on your travels, you should do your best not to schedule a homestay arrival or departure on a Sunday. Read more about that and other important cultural considerations on our Raja Ampat local culture page.
Original: Stay Raja Ampat