Gam

Pulau Gam, Raja Ampat
PULAU GAMVITAL STATISTICS
Attractions

  • Wildlife rich jungle with Red Birds of Paradise, cuscus, orchids, bats
  • Excellent beaches (especially in Eastern Gam)
  • Excellent snorkelling right at the door
  • Kabui Bay
  • Historic sites
  • Coastal path between villages
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Spectacular seascapes (Particularly in Kabui and Gam bays.)
Size190 square kilometres
Coastline length~125 kilometres
Number of villages5
Number of Homestay Association homestays29
Average cost of 1 way transfer from Waisai to Kri homestaysShared trip cost in IDR [USD]
Average one way travel time
 East coast to Kordiris500,000 [~33.00]
~1 hour
West of Kordiris1,000,000 [~66.00]
~1.5 hours
Other nearby islands with homestaysWaigeo, Friwen, Kri, Mansuar, Arborek

Quick links
Waisai Homestay Information Center
All Gam Homestays
Eastern Gam homestays
Southern Gam homestays
Western Gam Homestays
Northern Gam homestays
Kabui Bay homestays
Volunteering: The Sawinggrai English Effort
High resolution Raja Ampat map (PDF 3.59MB)
Step by step trip planning guide

Pulau Gam is one of Raja Ampat’s next largest islands after the “Four Kings” (Waigeo, Salawati, Misool and Batanta).

Gam is very hilly, and lots of sharp limestone and heavy jungle cover makes trekking in the interior extremely difficult. As everywhere else in Raja Ampat, all the villages are situated on the coast, and all but one lie along the island’s southern shores.
Villages are small and there are no roads or vehicle traffic on Gam. Only basic supplies are available in village shops, which are located in family homes. A wire or timber slat covered opening in a footpath facing wall usually means a shop.

A concrete path between Sawinggrai and Kapisawar makes those villages easily accessible from any of the nine homestays along that stretch of coast. The path makes for a nice walk to enjoy village life, Kapisawar’s beach, village jetties, and the great snorkelling to be had between the villages.

Cell phone reception on Gam is erratic, as (until the Sawinggrai tower is repaired) it relies on signal from towers on other islands. The best reception is usually available at the end of village jetties. Bad weather seriously degrades the signal strength. If you’re lucky enough to be receiving a good signal, slow data connections are usually available. There’s no phone signal at the northern Gam village of Kabui, or anywhere you are out of a direct line of sight to the towers on Saonek and Mansuar.

Snorkelling and diving

The southern coast of Gam provides some truly excellent snorkelling, but you do need to be aware of the very strong currents generated when the tide is running. If you’re a competent swimmer, it’s possible to drift the entire coast between Kapisawar and Sawinggrai jetties on a rising tide. (Or the other way around on a falling one.) Just be careful to stay close to the dropoff to make sure you’re not too far offshore to reach the jetty at the end of the ride!

There are three homestays on Gam with onsite dive centers. Find those by selecting the “Has onsite dive center” filter on the accommodation page.

All homestay dive centers dive all of the popular Raja Ampat sites, so (as far as diving opportunities go) it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Raja Ampat can be a challenging dive environment though, so be sure to do your research and choose a reputable operator.

Homestays without dive centers can easily arrange diving too. Your hosts can provide transport between your their place and the homestay dive center of your choice.

Birding tours

Gam’s jungles are filled with birds. Some of the more iconic species include Red Birds of Paradise, Western Crowned Pigeons, Palm Cockatoos and a bird that locals call the Maleo: A ground-dwelling bird that builds huge nest mounds on the forest floor.

Sawinggrai village is one of the best known locations for seeing Red Birds of Paradise, but several homestays on Gam have display trees nearby. Use the accommodation page search filters to quickly find those.

Serious birders might want to read this extensive Raja Ampat birding report for an idea of what to expect and some tips about prime locations.

Historic sites

Gam has several interesting historic sites including:

  • A Kanji-inscribed Japanese naval survey marker from WWII atop Batu Lima at the entrance to Kabui Bay.
  • Alfred Wallace’s 1860 campsite at the end of the wonderful, fjord-like Dore Mkun inlet near Yenbeser. Yenbeser villagers have recreated Wallace’s hut, using Wallace’s description in his seminal work “The Malay Archipelago”. Yenbeser guide Simon Kolomsusu can also show you two Red Bird of Paradise display trees he has discovered near Wallace’s campsite.
  • If you visit Yenbeser, ask about the forest grove where old healing rituals used to be conducted.
  • Pef Island, a small islet off the western tip of Gam, has a lagoon in which a number of ancient hand stencils can be seen on cliffs overhanging the water.

Trekking

As mentioned above, Gam’s forbidding terrain makes jungle trekking extremely difficult. Don’t attempt it without a local guide!

If you’re really keen to do a trek on Gam, ask your hosts for a guide, or try contacting Paulus at Nudibranch Homestay to see about his trek from northern Gam Bay across the hills to Kabui village on Gam’s northern shore. It’s also possible to trek from Kabui village to Warikaf Homestay in Kabui Bay.

If jungle trekking is high on your agenda, the best jungle trekking experience in Raja Ampat can be had with the Maya people of Mayalibit Bay on Waigeo.

Gam Bay

Gam Bay divides the island into eastern and western halves, and it’s convoluted shorelines, surrounding hills and karst islands provide some spectacular scenery.

There’s some great snorkelling in the bay, with the corals there being among some of the most heat adapted in Raja Ampat. (The bay’s waters can be almost uncomfortably warm in some places.)

Sightseeing opportunities in the bay include a hidden lagoon accessed by drifting through a cave at low tide, bat colonies, swarms of (non-stinging) moon jellyfish and orchid-covered karst islets.

Kabui Bay

Kabui Bay lies lies to the east of Gam and separates that island from Waigeo. The southern parts of the bay have white sand beaches and clear waters, while the northern parts are lined with mangroves and filled with karst islands reminiscent of the more famous ones at Wayag.

In the northeast of the bay, the Waigeo village of Wawiyai is the site of relics associated with the founding myth that gave Raja Ampat its name. Excellent panoramas of northern Kabui Bay can be had from the heights above Wawiyai, and the adjacent forests are filled with birdlife, bat caves and ancient burial sites.

The famed diving and snorkelling site of Kabui Passage is a narrow, river-like strait that separates northern Gam from Waigeo. The Passage leads from the western reach of Kabui bay to the ocean west of Gam and Waigeo. Near where the passage begins in Kabui, Warikaf Homestay has built a lookout atop a high island peak. Panoramic views of the bay’s karst island seascape are available after the climb. Please be aware that a rather aggressive saltwater crocodile took up residence in the passage in October 2018. They are dangerous ambush predators, and it would very unwise to swim in (or anywhere near) the passage at present. Follow our facebook or G+ page to receive updates on this and other events.

All homestays offer day trips and tours of Kabui’s attractions. Kabui is rich in wildlife: Dolphins and sea eagles are just two of the more high-profile inhabitants that you’ll see. Other sights include hidden lagoons, notable rock formations, and a small, hillside Bouton community that specialises in the production of dried and salted tiny fish.

How to choose accommodation at Pulau Gam

Individual homestay pages provide photos and more detail about the specific attractions and tours, services and facilities available at each place.

Note that all homestays can organise almost any trip you want to do: With the exception of Wayag visits, if the trip you want isn’t mentioned on the homestay’s page, it may well still be available. Especially if it’s to a location not too distant from the homestay.

Use the accommodation page  search filters to quickly find all homestays offering the features and facilities that are important to you.

Here is how to book. Please note that booking in advance is recommended at popular homestays, especially during peak season (October to March). Popular homestays include any with an on-site dive center, and can easily be identified by the number of reviews they have received.

How to get to Gam

All Gam homestays can provide pickups from Waisai and transfers to/from anywhere else. Average cost and travel time from Waisai is shown in the table above. Individual homestay transport prices are provided on their pages.

If you’re staying somewhere else first, it’s usually quicker to have your current host transfer you to your next place, rather than to ask your next host to come and pick you up. See this page for more information about the high cost of boat travel in Raja Ampat.

Gam phone signal & internet access

Phone and internet service availability varies widely on Gam. There are no towers on Gam, so reception depends on having a good line of sight between your homestay and nearest tower. Reception varies between strong in some areas to none at all in others. See individual homestay pages for what to expect at specific locations.

Note that free WiFi connections are extremely rare in Raja Ampat. You will need a local SIM for your phone. See this page for details.

Gam location map

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  1. Kenneth Tillberg on

    Very useful information!
    Thanks a lot!!”

    1. Glad to hear it was helpful Kenneth – thank you :)

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