You won’t find better Raja Ampat accommodation prices than those offered by homestays.
All the prices quoted on Stay Raja Ampat are for full board, which includes 3 meals a day and unlimited drinking water, tea and coffee.
The current average homestay accommodation price is IDR 350,000 (about USD 24.00) per person per night.
In Raja Ampat however, USD 24.00 per person per night will not buy you the same level of comfort and convenience that you would expect in other parts of Indonesia or elsewhere SE Asia.
This is why:
- Raja Ampat is extremely remote and undeveloped.
- Fuel costs in the islands are much higher than the Indonesian national mandated (and subsidised) price.
- Virtually all the supplies required for your stay must be imported over great distances.
- Local communities do not want to encourage the development of a cheap mass tourism market.
How remote and undeveloped?
It’s fallacious to equate Raja Ampat’s remoteness with that of somewhere like the Banda Islands or the Togeans in Sulawesi: Yes, those particular islands are further away from the city you leave from to get to them than the Dampier Strait islands are from Sorong, but a quick look at a map of Indonesia will show you that nowhere is further from Indonesia’s major population and industrial centers than Papua is. Kalimantan for example, is only 500km away from the production centers of Java. Sulawesi is 700km away. And both Sulawesi and Kalimantan have road networks that further reduce shipping costs. Even the Bandas, remote as they are, are only 1900km from Java. Sorong is over 2300km from Java.
Infrastructure in Raja Ampat is minimal. There is no public transport available between islands, and with the exception of the capital of Waisai on Waigeo, no roads or vehicles to efficiently transport goods. There’s no electricity network: Most electricity is supplied from petrol powered generators. There’s no mobile phone network available in many places. No supermarkets or hardware stores.
The average cost of outboard fuel mix (bensin campur) in Raja Ampat is IDR 10,000 per litre in Waisai, and up to IDR 12,000 per litre when purchased in outer islands. This is a fact. You may see the sign at the Pertamina station on the hill at Waisai advertising fuel at the nationally stipulated price, but just go in and try to buy some: They never have it. The new Bupati has said he will fix this, but it hasn’t happened yet and it’s questionable whether or not the government can actually prevail over the fuel-price-fixing cartel that extorts island communities. Until this problem is rectified, extortionate fuel prices and artificial scarcities that result in even higher price spikes will remain. Obviously, the cost of fuel affects the cost of everything else in the island communities…
The only supplies able to be locally sourced in Raja Ampat are timber and other forest sourced building materials, sand, limestone and basic foods like fish, coconut, banana, sago and a limited range of local vegetables. Everything else must be imported. Many of those imports are not available in Sorong either and must be shipped thousands of kilometres to that port for onward distribution to Raja Ampat. As most homestay guests are (sadly) unwilling to drink boiled local freshwater, all drinking water has to be imported as well. Obviously the higher transport costs due to remoteness and high fuel prices mean that all these things are more expensive than anywhere else in Indonesia.
Local communities don’t want to see the development of cheap mass tourism on their ancestral lands. Their hopes for the future are expressed in the Homestay Association’s Vision for Life statement. A homestay owner perfectly captures local feeling about criticism of current Raja Ampat accommodation prices when he says “If we create opportunities for tourism such as in Bali, then this place will be destroyed. Several tourists have said to me the homestays are expensive… The way I see it, if you can pay, great. If you can’t, that’s also fine. So we limit the number of tourists who do not appreciate the environment.”
Raja Ampat accommodation prices
There’s precious few places left in the world that can offer the experience available in Raja Ampat, and the last thing the people of the islands need is another high volume, low return tourism industry that dispossesses local communities. A robust low volume, high return eco-tourism industry that directly benefits local communities is essential to ensure the conservation of Raja Ampat’s incredible biodiversity and to avoid the dispossession and over-development seen in places like some of the Thai islands and Bali.
Prior to the development of the locally owned homestay accommodation sector the only accommodation choices in Raja Ampat were high-end liveaboard boats or resorts. Homestays now provide a network of island getaways where you can experience traditional Papuan culture and hospitality. Homestay accommodation is not a ‘cheap’ option, but a lot more of your money will stay in the local economy, which then improves the chances that local government and the wider community will continue to support a sustainable tourism sector and thus make plans to protect the natural resources upon which this whole sector depends. Impoverishing the local people by driving down homestay prices would not only be unjust, it would actually unravel the essential social and political network that currently protects Raja Ampat from exploitation.
It is to the credit of the homestay owners, that rather than simply demand money for entering their land, they instead want to build viable businesses that will provide a sustainable long term foundation for shared prosperity and development. By visiting their homestays, being flexible and open-minded, and leaving honest feedback, visitors can help to support the complex network of businesses, clans, families and other groups that are determined to protect Raja Ampat.
Have your say
If you’ve visited Raja Ampat (staying at homestays, liveaboards or resorts) and would like to provide your input on this and other subjects, please take a few minutes to respond to this survey. The results of the survey are provided to the Raja Ampat Homestay Association, its members, and other operators, and will help develop Raja Ampat’s locally owned eco-tourism industry for the benefit of operators and guests alike.
If you don’t have ten minutes available to complete the survey, simply add a quick comment on this page. Or you can review and rate a particular homestay in the comments section on the homestay’s page. All constructive comments are welcome and will be provided to the Association and the homestay concerned as well.