Raja Ampat boat hire

Raja Ampat boat hire

Raja Ampat boat hire costs are sore point for many visitors. Many consider the prices being asked as unjustified and exploitative. Or, more simply: “Boat prices are a complete ripoff.”

There are undeniably some operators who charge more than is fairly justified, but the common perception of widespread and systematic price fixing and profiteering is unfounded.

Here’s why:

  1. You might only be making the trip in one direction, but the homestay boat has to travel twice that distance.
  2. The cost of fuel in Raja Ampat is almost twice the national government mandated (and subsidised) price.
  3. Fuel costs are not the only expense that boat operators need to cover.
  4. The prices of all non-locally sourced items are more expensive in Raja Ampat than elsewhere in Indonesia.

We’ll explore these reasons in more detail and give you the numbers you need to make an informed assessment below, but the real question is:

How can you be sure to not spend more than is truly necessary?

  1. Plan your itinerary and trips carefully to minimise backtracking.
  2. Read this article so you’re aware of the true costs, assess your trip distance and boat type and avoid any operators whose prices don’t represent fair value.

Raja Ampat boat hire

Raja Ampat boat hire

We’ve done a lot of it.

The screenshot above shows a single data collection trip during which we covered 350km in a longboat with a single 40 horsepower engine. Raja Ampat boat hire being as expensive as it is, we naturally keep a close eye on exactly how much fuel we’re consuming and log each day’s distances and fuel consumption. So the numbers we’re about to quote are factual.

Before we get stuck into it though, let’s just look again at the 4 points we made in support of our assertion that Raja Ampat boat hire prices are not unreasonable.

  • You might only be making the trip in one direction, but the homestay boat has to travel twice that distance.

This is a no-brainer isn’t it? Obviously the cost to your host of picking you up or dropping you off is the round trip cost.

  • The cost of fuel in Raja Ampat is almost twice the national government mandated (and subsidised) price.

The average cost of outboard fuel mix (bensin campur) in Raja Ampat is IDR 13,000 per litre. 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. These are circumstances well beyond the control of homestays.

  • Fuel costs are not the only expense that boat operators need to cover.

This should also be obvious. In addition to the cost of fuel for your journey, the homestay owner has to cover the cost of boat driver wages, maintenance of the boat and engine and depreciation on the total investment. These are normal operating costs factored into the price of any transport you purchase anywhere. Expecting a transfer price based on the cost of fuel alone is completely unreasonable. Note also, that in some cases homestay owners do not have a boat capable of making the journey safely and must rent one themselves.

  • The price of all non-locally sourced items are more expensive in Raja Ampat than elsewhere in Indonesia.

Which of course includes boats, outboard engines and everything (except timber in the case of a traditional longboat) that goes into building and maintaining them.

Note: 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 spend five minutes looking at a map of Indonesia: 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, and then goods must be shipped from there to Raja Ampat.

So – let’s look at a real world Raja Ampat boat hire case…

Batanta for example. The cheapest transport available to a Batanta homestay is IDR 1,000,000 each way. The most expensive is IDR 1,500,000 The average is IDR 1,200,000

Fuel consumption varies according to sea conditions, number of passengers, engine condition and how the engine is driven.  In our experience (usually with at least 4 people in the boat) the round trip from Waisai to Batanta uses an average of 70 litres of fuel if a single 40HP engine is used, or an average of 40 litres if the boat has a single 15HP engine.

A round trip will take somewhere between 4 and 6.5 hours, depending on boat/engine type and sea conditions. What do we think is a fair price for the boat driver for that amount of time? Say IDR 200,000 in total?

So the total actual trip cost will be around IDR 1,110,000 if a single 40HP engine is employed, or IDR 720,000 if in a boat using a single 15HP engine.

ENGINEFUEL
COST
DRIVER
WAGES
PRICE
CHARGED
GROSS PROFIT PER TRIP
BEFORE maintenance & depreciation
15HP520,000200,0001,000,000 280,000 (roughly USD 21.00)
15HP520,000200,0001,200,000 480,000 (USD 36.00)
15HP520,000200,0001,500,000 780,000 (USD 58.00)
40HP910,000200,0001,000,000 (-110,000) (USD -8.00)
40HP910,000200,0001,200,000 90,000 (USD 7.00)
40HP910,000200,0001,500,000 390,000 (USD 29.00)

Best case scenario for homestay owner? The homestay charges IDR 1,500,000, owns its own boat, uses a 15HP engine and the homestay owner drives it. Gross profit (before maintenance and depreciation) = IDR 780,000 (About USD 58.00) per trip.

Worst case? It’s plain to see that any Batanta homestay that uses a boat with a 40HP engine, employs a driver and charges less than IDR 1,100,000 is actually losing money.

So: Before you decide that the Raja Ampat boat hire costs you’ve been quoted are a total ripoff, make sure you’ve done your research! To make an informed judgement you need at the very least to know the round trip distance and the horsepower (and number) of engines on the boat. The table below provides a starting point to make your own assessment.

Unless you expect people to work for peanuts, or don’t think including maintenance and depreciation is warranted, then we think you’ll find that the majority of homestay transport prices aren’t as unreasonable as they’d appear at first glance.

Raja Ampat Waisai boat transfer costs

  • The table below does not show transfer prices! (It shows the average fuel cost to selected destinations to help you work out a reasonable price.)
  • Driver wages and boat maintenance and depreciation costs must be added to the fuel cost to arrive at a fair price for your transfer. (See above)
  • Calculations are based on average price for outboard engine mix fuel in Raja Ampat in 2016/2017 (IDR 13,000 per litre).
  • Fuel costs are for the round trip for a single engined boat.
  • Distances used are averaged: Boats rarely travel in straight lines. Negotiating sea conditions can substantially increase journey length.
  • The links in the destination column are to homestays in the destination area.
  • See our island guides for average transfer asking prices and how long the trip takes.
DESTINATIONFUEL COST
15HP
FUEL COST
40HP
Friwen182,000318,500
Gam East – Yenbeser195,000341,250
Gam South – Kordiris234,000409,500
Gam South – Sawinggrai364,000637,000
Kabui Bay – Warikaf377,000659,750
Gam South – Beser Bay403,000705,250
Gam West – Korbekwan468,000819,000
Arborek468,000819,000
Batanta – Birie Island520,000910,000
Piaynemo819,0001,443,250
Pam Islands – Sau Kabu819,0001,443,250
Pam Islands – Mios Ba871,0001,524,250
Manyaifun936,0001,638,000
West Waigeo – Kamar Raja962,0001,683,500
West Waigeo – Talaip1,157,0002,024,750
West Waigeo – Prajas1,209,0002,115,750

 

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  1. Mark on

    Your no brainer isnt a no brainer at all. The reality is that many homestays or those who work in tandem drop departing clients for the 9 am or 2 pm sorong ferry and wait for the new arrivals at the 11 am or 4 pm arrival respectively. Thus they have clients paying a round trip cost as you put it for a one way stay. This is the more often scenario on trips to and from waisai to the homestays !!! This is precisely the kind of behavior which has visitors upset
    This has happened to me on all four of my raja ampat visits

    1. That’s no doubt true at times for homestays on Kri, Mark. For homestays everywhere else, a pickup or dropoff almost always has no passengers in one direction.

      We definitely agree that Kri transfers in particular should be cheaper than they are, as homestays there have the perfect opportunity to work together to minimise trip costs. Doing so would also reduce the cost to the environment of so many boats zipping back and forth. If guests communicate their dissatisfaction as we recommend, then hopefully that will happen.

      A related issue that we haven’t included as a cost to operators, but which data shows has become quite significant, is the number of guests who make (free) bookings, request pickups, and then simply don’t show up.

      You can imagine the effect that that kind of frustration has on homestay owners when they are trying to work out the margin they need to ensure that their transfers are profitable. Especially if it has happened to them after waiting all day at Waisai to “backload” an expected guest!

  2. Ihsan Pramanda on

    Hello Admin,

    First I want to say thank you so much for the very informative website. I can almost find any information I need from your website alone. I can see you reply to virtually every comment too. So I hope you can help me out.

    I’m a solo traveller visiting Raja Ampat for the first time. It’s more like an impromptu trip since I’m having a business trip to Sorong and thinking it’d be a waste if I at least don’t see Raja Ampat. I only have 3d 2n so I plan to visit only Arborek and hopefully could hop on a trip to Piaynemo (since Wayag is way too distant and expensive for my budget). I have confirmed a booking on Manta Homestay and also requested for the pick up.

    I’m wondering how the pick up from Waisai actually works. Do every boat owners only pick up the guests who are coming to their homestay and pre-arranged the pick up or could they also take guests coming to the same island/location (i.e. Arborek). I’m thinking what if I’m the only one coming to Manta Homestay on that day, I’d have to pay the entire transport from Waisai myself. Is it possible if I join other boats heading to Arborek on my arrival date so I can reduce the cost, disembark on the jetty and then walk to the homestay myself? Is it too much of a gamble, especially I’m being solo and not in any groups? I was thinking there’d be more people coming to the island in total than coming to a particular homestay. If that’s possible, I would let the owner know that he doesn’t have to pick me up.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Ihsan :)

      You can indeed join any boat headed for an island, but Kri is the only island that receives enough guests that there is almost always a boat heading there.

      The risk you take by not having a pickup booked is that there may not be a boat going to Arborek on the day you want to go.

      The Homestay Information Center can help arrange transport if you arrive without a pickup organised and find no boats going to your destination, but you may waste several hours in the port at Waisai waiting for one to arrive. (It can sometimes be difficult to send one immediately.)

      1. Ihsan Pramanda on

        What about transferring to Arborek from Kri (since from the map it seems that the two islands is not that far with each other)? Will there be boats available for those who wish to transfer to Arborek? I’m still weighing any possible options before heading to Waisai tomorrow morning.

        1. Yes – all homestays can arrange transfers to other islands and accommodation. The Information Center can help with that too in the unlikely event you have a problem.

  3. Glenn Sibbald on

    Hello, I am staying at Wapnansan home stay, traveling over to Waigeo on the fast ferry. I do not have a cell phone, but do have an IPad with me, so I can use WiFi when available. Is there a way that I can contact the home stay from the ferry terminal, to let them know when to pick me up? Or is there a way to contact them from the ferry landing on Waigeo?

    Thanks, Glenn Sibbald

    1. Hello Glen

      If you made your booking though this website, then our system will send Wapnansan a pickup reminder 48 hours before you are due to arrive. If by any chance they are not at Waisai to meet you, the Homestay Information Center there will be able to contact them for you.

  4. Artur on

    That’s really thorough information.
    I’ve got one question:
    Does it make sense to go there only for two days (for actual staying). In overall i’d have 4 days Thursday (flight Timika – Sorong) – Sunday (Sorong – Jakarta) ?

    That would be my first time in Papua. Hope I can fullfill me dream to visit that pearl – Raja Ampat

    1. Thanks Artur :)

      Two days is not much time – especially when you subtract the time required to travel from Sorong to Waisai and then to the island/s you want to visit. It could be done, but you wouldn’t have time to see a lot and would probably regret not having longer!

  5. Basudeb Banerjee on

    Sorry I have missed one point in hurry.
    Regarding expenses in boat for 3 persons probably direct and via Waisai incur the same amount.
    Is it?

    1. Yes – boat transfer prices are per trip, not per person.

  6. Basudeb Banerjee on

    Thanks in advance.
    If I go by 2 PM express boat from Sorong to Waisai will I be able to reach Pulau Birie of Batanta Island from Waisai on the same day ?
    We are planning to travel in early April 2018

    1. Yes, assuming good weather conditions. If conditions are not good, then a homestay near Waisai is a good place to stay overnight. Seas are usually calmer in the mornings than in the afternoons.

      1. Basudeb Banerjee on

        Sorry to add some more.
        From MAP location it appears to me that Batanta Island(Pulau Birie)
        is nearer to Sorong than Waisai.
        So is there any necessity to go to Pulau Birie via Waisai from Sorong? Possibly Direct from Sorong will save time.
        Can I not go to Pulau Birie direct from Sorong?

        1. The map is a bit deceptive. Waisai is closer, and it’s also easier to reach because the ocean is more calm.

          Some homestays at Birie offer pickup from Sorong, but that journey is a lot less safe and comfortable than the ferry. It is also harder to arrange and more than twice as expensive as going via Waisai. (About 5 million compared to less than 2 million.)

          1. Basudeb Banerjee on

            My sincere thanks.
            We are 3 Persons and arriving at at Sorong from Surabaya
            at 13:00 Pm by flight. As per your advice we will go via Waisai.
            And it is to some extent uncertain to reach Pulau Birie on the same day. Am I right?
            But the dilemma is that I do not waste a day in Waisai.
            I am in tight schedule and want to stay total 6 days.
            2 days each for Bantanta, Arborek and near Yenbuba Jetty
            respectively.
            Seek your advice.

            1. We would expect that in April you should be able to transfer to Birie the same day. But weather is unpredictable.

              Having a very tight schedule can be a problem in Raja Ampat. Sometimes boats are not available when wanted, and sometimes the weather can make a scheduled trip impossible.

              In any stay of less than a week, it’s advisable to have at least one day spare in case of delays.

              1. Basudeb Banerjee on

                I am disturbing you much.
                Please help me to fix the schedule.
                Will I make provision for an extra day either at the the time of entering or leaving Raja Ampat?
                We tentatively want to enter Raja Ampat on 1st April and want to leave on 7th April.
                If your kindness permit me, then I will seek another
                suggestion from you.
                After staying in Batanta and Arborek islands for 4 days is there anything new to get in Yenbuba Jetty area for 2 days. Actually I planned to stay there to reach Waisai early and can get the 9 AM express ferry to Sorong. So that I can get the 14:05 flight from Sorong.

  7. Petar on

    Hi and thank you for this wonderful and very informative site!
    I think that there might be a mistake in your calculations, since the prices given here in the example is for one way only, but all the other calculations are for a round trip. The homestays will be asking double that price for a round trip, as far as I understand – in the example 2 000 000 IDR to 3 000 000 IDR. I am about to get to Sorong tomorrow and I am a bit worried about those prices since I travel alone. Hopefully it won’t be as bad (expensive) as it sounds.

    1. You’re welcome Petar – we’re glad it was useful for you.

      Yes – the example quotes the one way trip price that a guest is charged.

      The total trip cost calculations are from the boat owner’s perspective though: He must make a round trip to provide a one way trip for the guest.

      Hope that makes it clearer!

      You’ll find actual transfer and trip prices quoted on individual homestay pages.

  8. Basudeb Banerjee on

    I am extremely sorry. I had no idea that you were without internet.
    And much thank for the information.

  9. Basudeb Banerjee on

    We 3 Persons intend go to Raja Ampat. Can you suggest me stay in which Island will be most convenient to see good varieties of Coral reef and fish( not Diving ).

    How I can get the web page of different homestays ?

    1. Hello Basudeb

      There is good snorkelling available at every island. See the descriptions on this page for more information.

      Homestay webpages are available here.

      In both cases above, click the pictures to see the pages.

      1. Basudeb Banerjee on

        Thanks a lot.
        Some more queries please.
        We 3 persons intend to go at the end of March. One Male aged 68 years, Two Females aged 70 years and 28 years.
        Will there be any safety concern with this?
        From study I have come to know that main non-Veg. food is Fish and that is sea food. Though none of us is allergic to sea food still, will this food make any problem?

          1. Basudeb Banerjee on

            I have gone through the pages referred by you. But I did not get what I want.
            To be precise,
            I want to know will there be any personal security problem in the remote and lonely areas of homestays e.g. crime, stealing etc.
            And is there any study regarding food infection with the sea fish.
            Thanks,
            Basudeb

            1. Basudeb Banerjee on

              I requested you to give information at least at a basic level regarding security ( crime, theft etc.) in remote and isolated homestays.
              I again request you.

              1. Hello Basudeb

                Apologies for the late reply – we have been without internet access for the last few weeks.

                There is no personal security problem in remote homestays. In busy homestays it’s wise to take precautions with your valuables, as the biggest theft risk is from unscrupulous other travellers.

                There is no study regarding food infection with the sea fish that we know of.

  10. warren on

    Hello,

    I am planning a trip to Raja Ampat in mid May. Hope the weather is good during that time. I’ll be travelling alone and would like to know if anyone else would like to share transport costs to visit islands.

    Thanks
    Warren

    1. Hi Warren

      If you want to, you’re welcome to post this request on our facebook page to increase your chances of finding travelling companions.

    2. Maria Carolina De Ré on

      Hi,

      Im planning a trip to Raja Ampat in 1–10 june. I’ll be travelling alone and would like to know if anyone else would like to share transport costs to visit islands.

      Thanks,
      Carol

  11. Vinod on

    Your page has been very helpful in setting the context to my solo trip to this beautiful place. I plan to stay at Kakatua hostel. I don’t think I saw anything about this place on your page. Would you have any info, particularly around how long it would take to get from there to the islands, approx costs etc? I’m hoping finding people to share boats would be possible given that it’s a hostel and I am told it is full. fingers crossed. and thanks in advance!

    1. Thank you Vinod :)

      Sorry, but we don’t know that hostel, so can’t say how long it would be from there to anywhere. If it’s in Waisai, then travel times to the various islands would be as described on the individual homestay pages. The article above describes trip costs from Waisai.

  12. marcos on

    It woud be very helpful if you could provide distances and travel times between the destinations you mentioned above.

    1. Good suggestion marcos – thanks :)

      Travel times are a bit difficult because they depend on sea conditions, the type of boat used, and the destination homestay, but we’ll see if we can work out a useful average. We’ll add distances when we can, but in the meantime they can be easily measured on Google Maps.

  13. Emma on

    Thank you for this information though I am a bit confused because when I was in sorong diesel was around 8,000 a litre. Which is only slightly higher than Bali. this price is well below Australian diesel prices and I have never used that much diesel to get the distance of waisai to kris. Source of information-I spent 4 days in sorong due to a nasty ear infection. I went passed 2 petrol station and talked to locals who said ‘sometimes it goes up, but not much’. Am I missing something?

    1. Hi Emma –

      We don’t know about the situation in Sorong, but Raja Ampat is a different regency to Sorong and fuel distribution there may be controlled by different people. As mentioned above, you’ll see fuel advertised for the nationally subsidised price in Raja Ampat too, but you can never actually buy any at those prices.

      Perhaps also worth mentioning again is that homestay boats use bensin campur (a mix of petrol and oil), not diesel, and that the fuel costs quoted above are the bensin campur costs for the round trip the homestay boat must make to pick up or drop off guests.

      Hope that makes things a bit clearer! :)

  14. Yansen on

    Hi, thanks for the great article (great website even).

    I’m planning a solo trip to Raja Ampat and stay at a particular homestay there.
    Based on your experience, can I always find someone to share the boat price to the homestay (and any spot I plan to visit), or is it based on luck if I can find anyone to share?

    1. Cheers Yansen!

      Whether or not you’re likely to be able to share transport costs depends entirely on which homestay you’re heading for: If you’re going to one of the popular ones on Kri, then you almost certainly will. Anywhere else and you more than likely won’t. You’re welcome to post on our facebook page to see if you can arrange something with other travellers.

    2. Lia on

      Hi yansen… i’m planning a solo trip to raja ampat ( around dec 2018) and i’m looking for someone to share the boat price.
      Maybe you can join? 😊

    3. Rolly on

      HELP ! Share boat costs…

      Hi Yansen and anyone else out there traveling to Raja Ampat.

      I am planning a trip in early February 2018 . I am travelling alone and so am hoping to find someone to share the boat costs….

      Rolly.

  15. Giulio on

    Hi guys, very useful website! I’m just starting to have this idea to come in Raja Ampat very soon. It’s the first time I’m looking this page and I’d like to do many questions. First of all: trasport. In every page of homestay I find something like that “Waisai – Corepen Homestay transfers cost IDR 500,000 each way (per trip, not per passenger). Transfers are by longboat which can carry up to two passengers. A bigger boat can be organised for families or larger groups.” (I picked up one randomly). I can find only the price from and to Waisai…but if I want to go, for example, from this homestay to another one the price will be the same? And will be the owner of the first homestay to drive me to second homestay or will be the second homestay’s to come and pick me up? Last question: if the price for a boat trip is intended to be per trip and not per passenger this means that I could divided the price (in the example case 500,000 IDR) among all passengers? If I will be a lonely traveller will I pay the entire cost? Thanks you very much

    Giulio

    1. Thanks Giulio :)

      As above, transport prices depend on distance, so no – a transfer to another homestay will not necessarily be the same as a Waisai transfer. Some homestays publish transfer prices for locations other than Waisai.

      It’s up to you how you want to organise transfers. The easiest option is to ask your current host to take you to the next location..

      Yes – if you are the only passenger then you will pay the entire cost.

  16. Riayu on

    Hi i will stay in Waisai and need a roughly price for boat rent round trip back to Waisai everyday
    – i will go to Kri and Mansuar island on day 1
    – to Sawinggrai and Gam on day 2
    – Piaynemo and Fam on day 3

    kindly advice, thanks :)

    1. You’ll need to ask your accommodation provider about that Riayu. If we were you, we’d stay a night in a homestay at each place and have each host take you to the next place rather than return to Waisai every day…

      1. Riayu on

        or maybe you can advice me where island to stay that strategic and efficient enough ?
        let say stay in Kri island is the best, bcs it’s right in the middle of all my destinations
        Thank you :)

        1. Arborek would actually be the most central location for the three places you have mentioned, but again – the most cost effective way to do it would be to stay at a Kri homestay for the first night or two, then transfer to one at Sawinggrai and either make a day trip from there to Piaynemo, or transfer to Piaynemo Homestay itself for your last night.

          1. Riayu on

            thank you sooo much for the great advice!!!

  17. gabi on

    One more question: If we want to rent a boat for a day tour, do you know approximately how much is it?

    1. Depends on where you want to go gabi. Again – see the individual homestay pages for prices.

  18. gabi on

    Hi! This prices are per person or per boat?

    1. Hi gabi –

      These are not prices. They are fuel costs to help visitors work out whether a trip asking price is fair or not. Transfer prices are given on each homestay’s page and are almost always quoted per trip, not per person.

      1. gabi on

        Ah, ok!! Thai you!! But you approximately how much costs a transfer between the islands? That you so much!

        1. See the individual homestay pages for those gabi. The prices vary, and in most cases will be more than the fuel costs shown above.

          1. gabi on

            ok! :))

  19. Mark on

    Very nice write up.

    We will be arriving on Krii in a few days 🤣

    For perspective I decent fiberglass long tail with a Yanmar motor (prop/long shaft) costs about idr18.5M.

    A 120km 60/60 ride (4hrs x2) out to a remote island off the mainland now costs approximately idr2.8M

    If you are staying a week, the driver will drop you and return to islands closer to mainland, work there for few days then return to pick you up.

    That’s about idr350k per motoring hour. Paying a local to sit in a boat while people are in the water is zero to, included in overall profits. They’d be sitting around somewhere anyway on land if not employed by us.

    Rental out of the national parks for half day. Usually few hours motoring, few anchored is idr750k and limited to the national park area.

    1. Mark on

      Apologies, I seemed to have neglected to mention Thailand in the beginning of my post.

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