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, but 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.

BEFORE maintenance & depreciation
15HP 520,000 200,000 1,000,000  280,000 (roughly USD 21.00)
15HP 520,000 200,000 1,200,000  480,000 (USD 36.00)
15HP 520,000 200,000 1,500,000  780,000 (USD 58.00)
40HP 910,000 200,000 1,000,000  (-110,000) (USD -8.00)
40HP 910,000 200,000 1,200,000  90,000 (USD 7.00)
40HP 910,000 200,000 1,500,000  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 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.
Friwen 182,000 318,500
Gam East – Yenbeser 195,000 341,250
Gam South – Kordiris 234,000 409,500
Gam South – Sawinggrai 364,000 637,000
Kabui Bay – Warikaf 377,000 659,750
Gam South – Beser Bay 403,000 705,250
Gam West – Korbekwan 468,000 819,000
Arborek 468,000 819,000
Batanta – Birie Island 520,000 910,000
Piaynemo 819,000 1,443,250
Pam Islands – Sau Kabu 819,000 1,443,250
Pam Islands – Mios Ba 871,000 1,524,250
Manyaifun 936,000 1,638,000
West Waigeo – Kamar Raja 962,000 1,683,500
West Waigeo – Talaip 1,157,000 2,024,750
West Waigeo – Prajas 1,209,000 2,115,750


30 thoughts on “Raja Ampat boat hire

  1. 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.


  2. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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?

    • 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! :)

  4. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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? 😊

    • 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….


  5. 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


    • 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.

  6. 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 :)

  7. 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.