|THE PAM ISLANDS||VITAL STATISTICS|
|Number of villages||4|
|Number of Homestay Association homestays||6|
|Average cost of 1 way transfer from Waisai to Batanta homestays||Shared trip cost in IDR [USD]|
Average one way travel time
|To Pam Homestays||2,100,000 [~140.00]|
|To Piaynemo homestays||3,000,000 [~198.00]|
|Other nearby islands with homestays||None|
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’re going to stick with the islands’ real names.
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
There are no homestay dive centers in the Pam Islands, so if you want to dive places like the famous “Melissa’s Garden” near Piaynemo, you’ll need to book a stay at one of the diving homestays elsewhere.
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!
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, and a long curve of shelly beach on the 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.
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: 0.5 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 kilometre
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.
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.
If you are looking to save money on transfers and have plenty of time available, there is a public boat that runs between Sorong, Arefi on Batanta, and Pam village on Pambemuk. The public boat is a lot cheaper than any other means. It costs about IDR 120,000 one way between Sorong and Pam. It’s also a long, slow journey. The boat leaves Sorong once a week at 1600 on Fridays, and arrives in Arefi at Batanta at 2200. John Urbon in Sorong can help you find the public boat.
You would need to let your homestay know you were arriving on the ferry so they could arrange a pickup or somewhere for you to spend the night in Pam. (Small boat travel at night is potentially dangerous.)
The return trip usually leaves Pam around 0830 on Saturday morning, arriving in Arefi at about 1230 and Sorong at 1730.
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.