What are the choices?
- Fly to Sorong in Indonesia’s West Papua province (you can also get there by ship)
- Fly from Manado direct to Waisai in Raja Ampat.
- Take a taxi from the airport to Sorong ferry harbour
- Then one of the ferries to Waisai (or you can fly if you prefer)
- Meet your pickup (or see if you can hitch a ride) at the homestay boat harbour.
How to get to Raja Ampat
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 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 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 January 2017. 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)
Direct flights to Raja Ampat (Waisai)
In December 2016, Lion Air subsidiary Wings Air opened a new daily direct route between Manado and Waisai, the capital of Raja Ampat. The Marinda Airport at Waisai is listed as “Raja Ampat” on most ticket booking websites. The Raja Ampat Marinda Airport IATA code is RJM. Check their schedule here.
A NOTE: You can’t be picked up by boat from the airport, so if you are heading for the other islands you’ll need to get transport to the ferry harbour. Depending on ferry arrival times, you may have a long wait for your island transfer. In some cases the wait will mean it’s actually quicker to reach your accommodation by flying to Sorong and getting the ferry instead. (You’ll also have twice the baggage allowance on a flight to Sorong than you will on a flight to Waisai.)
2: Sorong airport to harbour 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: How to get from Sorong to the Raja Ampat islands
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. The slow boat runs once a day, usually departing Sorong at around 2.00pm. The current express ferry schedule is posted below. Departures can often be delayed, so it’s worth asking someone to call the harbour if you’re running late.
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.
You can buy express ferry tickets on your day of travel at the ticket offices in the Waisai and Sorong port office buildings. Just ask at the port if you can’t spot those. There are often also agents selling them on the wharf itself and you can purchase them on board if you board without one. The Raja Ampat Tourism Office also sells tickets.
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 as published by the ferry company in May 2017. However: Schedules can – and do – change without notice. Individual departures can also be changed at random. Do not rely on the published schedule! The Sorong Tourism Office and your accommodation provider will be able to provide up to date ferry information. Ferry departures can be delayed, brought forward, and even cancelled without notice. We experienced a delay of over 90 minutes on one occasion, as the ferry waited for late VIPs to show up. The only way to absolutely guarantee that the ferry will get you back to Sorong in time for your flight is to return to Sorong the day before your flight leaves.
Times shown in the table below are departure times. The ferry journey time is about two hours.
|DAY||SORONG TO WAISAI||WAISAI TO SORONG|
3.2: Sorong to Waisai flights
Lion Air subsidiary Wings Air flies daily from Sorong (SOQ) to Waisai (RJM). Check departure times here.
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 or flying – you’d need a really compelling reason to charter one!
4: How to get from Waisai to the islands
The simplest way to get to your accommodation from Waisai is to arrange a pickup when you book your accommodation. Transfer prices vary according to distance between Waisai and the homestay. Each homestay’s transfer price is published on its web page.
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’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).
A note about Sundays
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.