|THE PAM ISLANDS||VITAL STATISTICS|
|Number of villages||4|
|Number of Homestay Association homestays||11|
|Average cost of 1 way transfer from Waisai to Pam homestays IDR [USD]||2,000,000 [$134.00]|
|Average one way travel time||2.5 hours|
Pam Islands location map
The Pam Islands are scattered across 150 square kilometres of ocean at the western end of the Dampier Strait.
With the exception of Piaynemo, they are almost all small, low sand cays that are heavily planted with coconut palms. Most are surrounded by perfect beaches and amazingly clear turquoise, jade and azure waters.
The Pam Islands are a long way from Waisai, but their beaches are definitely among the best Raja Ampat has to offer. The Wayag-like karst island seascape of Piaynemo is spectacular. Many mistake images of Piaynemo for Wayag, making Piaynemo a perfect alternative if your time and budget won’t extend to visiting Wayag.
Wait. Isn’t it “Fam”?
The Pam Islands are marked on most maps as “Fam”, and Piaynemo is usually labelled “Penemu” or “Groot Fam”. These are foreign map makers’ mispronunciations of the local names for these islands. These tone-deaf renderings of the true names of their homes are the cause of some chagrin to the islands’ traditional owners, so we’ve used the preferred local spelling here.
Only basic supplies of the kind used by local people are available in village shops, so you’ll need to bring anything you regard as essential with you.
Snorkelling and diving
The only dive center in the Pam Islands is located at Divemarine Homestay. Divemarine Homestay is the closest dive center to famous sites like Melissa’s Garden, Barracuda, Galaxy, Anita’s Garden and the many others around Piaynemo and Pam.
There’s a wealth of good snorkelling to be had, and the riches of Piaynemo’s reefs are easily accessible from any of the Pam homestays.
Be sure to bring snorkelling gear!
Piaynemo (and Pulau Rufas)
Area: 4.8 square kilometres
Coastline: ~28 km
Piaynemo is a long, narrow shard of steep limestone that rises high above the ocean.
There’s an abundance of rich snorkelling around Piaynemo Homestay, and a long curve of shelly beach on the nearby western side of the island.
If you’re feeling intrepid, you could also ask if your guide knows the way to the hidden lake that lies in the jungle near the island’s extreme southwest corner.
“Piaynemo” is a local word that describes the join between a harpoon head and shaft, and the portion of Piaynemo to the north of the island’s narrowest width does indeed have the shape of a traditional harpoon head.
From a small dock in a lagoon on Piaynemo’s maze-like eastern coastline, timber stairs rise to a lookout atop one of the island’s impressive limestone peaks. The lookout provides an amazing view across the many karst islets that lie scattered amid the turquoise waters below. The vista is well worth the climb!
A note: On the lookout dock you’ll find local villagers selling snacks and drinks, and Pam Island souvenirs like Saukabu virgin coconut oil and Pam village natural coconut soap. Unfortunately, they also sell things like black coral bracelets and live coconut crabs that they have captured.
These large, land-dwelling crabs have disappeared from most of their formerly extensive range due to human predation. The ever diminishing size of the creatures seen for sale at Piaynemo indicate that the local population will soon suffer the same fate. Coconut crabs are a protected species, and – unless you’re happy to contribute to their local extinction – you should resist buying them. Many homestays will refuse to cook them for you if you do.
If you want to help the crabs, be aware that buying them to free them will merely hasten the capture of more of the poor creatures. The best thing to do might be to politely explain to the vendors that you would have bought some snacks, oil and soap, but refuse to purchase anything from a place that exploits protected species.
Pulau Rufas is a tiny limestone atoll that sits off the east coast of Piaynemo. Two homestays are located on the shore of the Rufas lagoon.
Area: 7 square kilometres
Coastline: 14 km
Pulau Pam is the largest of the Pam Islands. Two homestays are located on a fabulous beach, next to the village of Saukabu.
A five kilometre long path connects Pam’s three villages and a bay at the island’s western end, so long walks are possible. There are also three lakes hidden in Pam’s interior. Be sure to be accompanied by a guide if you go in search of those.
Pam Island is home to a cottage industry producing quality virgin coconut oil and coconut oil soaps. Most homestays in the Pam Islands have these products for sale, and can arrange for you to take part in production days if you wish to.
See individual Pam Island homestay pages for more information.
Area: ~0.3 square kilometres
Coastline: 2.3 km
Meos Ambower is an uninhabited island with a single homestay, lovely small beaches and excellent snorkelling. The island lies in a bay on the north coast of the much larger Pulau Pam, and so is well protected during the windy season. Perfect as a base to explore the Pam Islands, or as a private hideway for some serious downtime.
See individual Meos Ambower homestay pages for more information.
Area: ~0.1 square kilometres
Coastline: ~1.2 km
Pulau Manaru is an uninhabited tiny coral cay with a single homestay, lovely small beaches and excellent snorkelling. A quiet hideaway on an uninhabited tropical island. Relax and enjoy excellent snorkelling, fabulous sea views and the wind sighing through island casuarinas.
See individual Manaru homestay pages for more information.
Area: 0.5 square kilometres
Coastline: ~3 km
Pambemuk is a tiny island, but it’s the location of Pam village, which is the largest village and the only port in the Pam Islands.
See individual Pambemuk homestay pages for more information.
Area: 1 square kilometres
Coastline: ~4 km
Andau Mkun is a small an uninhabited island with some absolutely stunning beaches, rich marine life (including occasional mantas) and great views north to the nearby Piaynemo.
See individual Andau Mkun homestay pages for more information.
Area: 2.2 square kilometres
Coastline: ~6 km
A near neighbour to the smaller Andau Mkun, Andau Besar is essentially a coconut plantation surrounded by six kilometres of beach.
See individual Andau Besar homestay pages for more information
Area: 0.6 square kilometres
Coastline: 2.8 km
Small and uninhabited, Mios Kor has a rich fringing reef, a coconut plantation on its northern cost and tidal mangrove flats in the south.
See individual Mios Kor homestay pages for more information
How to choose accommodation in the Pam Islands
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 the Pam Islands
All Pam 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.
It’s a long boat journey to any of the Pam Islands, and it’s a good idea to keep a poncho or waterproof clothing easily accessible during the journey. Even if it’s a fine day, all it takes is a little wind and swell and you can quickly be soaked by seaspray.
Public Boat to the Pam Islands
If you have plenty of time, you don’t mind a bit of discomfort, and you want spend as little as possible on transport costs, then there are cargo boats that you can use to get to the Pam Islands. (Obviously, if you are going to arrive on the cargo boat, then you don’t need to select the Waisai pickup checkbox when submitting a booking request to your homestay.)
Here’s what you need to know about getting the cargo boat to Pam.
Pam Islands phone signal & internet access
A tower broadcasting a 4G signal was installed at Piaynemo in 2018, so phone and internet access there (and at nearby islands) should be good now. We haven’t visited Pam since then, so can’t say for sure if the existing Pambemuk tower was upgraded or not. Last time we visited there was a usuable (but variable) signal available at most Pam homestays, but internet connections were not supported. Refer to individual homestay pages for location specific reception information.
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.