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“Piyainemo homestay, the true gateway”
Review of Raja Ampat Islands

Raja Ampat Islands
Ranked #1 of 13 things to do in Sorong
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

It was my first time to go to Raja Ampat. From Sorong airport took a ferry to Waisai for 2 hours then continue by speed boat to Piyainemo Island about 3 hours. I stayed in Piyainemo homestay. It is located in the middle of the Ocean, surrounded by the mangrove beach. There are two bungalows with the inside bathroom. From the dermaga you can see the Piyainemo island, very beautiful and peaceful. It is very easily to see the baby shark, many colorful fish around. Also if you are lucky, you can find the maleo bird. It is very near about 10 mins boat ride to go to the top of Piyainemo island. You can rent the boat from the homestay. I strongly appreciate to the owner, bapak Eli and also to other staff. You are very friendly and warming. We also enjoyed the food provided. You can order lobster in optional.

1  Thank lucyrheeqa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Early this year we visited Raja Ampat for the third time so this is to continue my previous reviews.

Some changes we noticed were:
- The ferry ticket sales office in Sorong harbour was bigger and more organized
- At Waisai harbor, there was a counter for payment of the Marine Park entry permit and a new Homestay Info Centre
- A big, new passenger terminal was under construction in Waisai
- New jetty and wooden stairs in Piaynemo to view the karst islands in addition to the old ones (but the new, looked nice toilets were not functional)
- A lot more homestays (100) & liveaboards

Below are some things which may be useful:

MAP
Although Raja Ampat means “4 kings” referring to the biggest 4 islands (Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, Misool), it is an archipelago with numerous islands. To get oriented, google map and google earth should help. Stayrajaampat website has one with names of homestays (not resorts) in the different islands, at the moment totaling 100. The more popular islands are those closer to Waisai, RA’s region capital, i.e.: (South) Waigeo, Kri (Small Mansuar), Mansuar, Gam, Friwen, Arborek and Kabui Bay. The more remote ones are: Misool (no homestays registered with stayrajaampat), Batanta, Pam/Fam Islands, Piaynemo, Manyaifun, Selpele in West Waigeo, and Wayag.

ONE OR MORE ISLANDS & HOMESTAYS
Depending on how much time you have and your interests, you can choose to stay in one island/one homestay or more. On our first visit (2013), we only had a week and stayed in 1 island (Kri @ Lumba-Lumba homestay). The second time (2017), we had 18 days in 5 islands: Kri @ Warahnus for 3 nights, Arborek @ Kayafyof for 3 nights, Manyaifun @ Sea Fans for 5 nights, Saukabu in Pam island @ Tanjung Mefiyai for 3 nights and Kabui Bay @ Yengkawe for 2 nights plus 1 night in Sorong @ Swiss-Belhotel. On the third (2018), we spent 11 days in 3 islands: Manyaifun @ Sea Fans for 4 nights, Arborek @ Worisun for 3 nights and Kri @ Byuk Bea for 3 nights. Loved experiencing the different islands including the snorkeling and trekking sites around each. In choosing homestays, we looked at locations, reviews, photos and pricing. While room rates include all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) ranged from Rp350K to Rp450K (USD25 to < USD35) per person per night, we also looked at costs of transfer (Wasai - homestay, homestay - other homestay/different island, homestay - Waisai), boat trips for snorkeling, and excursions e.g. to Wayag (the iconic karst islands) or Piaynemo (little Wayag). To save money, we tried not to backtrack and cover as much as conveniently possible in each boat trip e.g. trekking Piaynemo when transferring from Pam Island to Manyaifun.

PRE-BOOKING
We always pre-booked the homestays on-line (through stayrajaampat website or bookingdotcom). Met some fellows who didn’t and had to leave (taken to other homestays) when booking guests arrived. We noticed that many Papuans could hardly say no. Since there are over 100 homestays now, it is unlikely you will not find a place but booking ahead minimizes potential hassles (many islands didn’t have phone signals). The Homestay Info Center at Waisai harbour should be able to help.

SNORKELING & BEACH PICNIC
While hubby and I are divers, we preferred snorkeling in RA: easy, just as awesome and cheaper. Many homestays had good reefs right off the beach and can take you by boat to nearby islands. Small and big fishes were plentiful and lots of colourful corals were on shallow seas. Bring your own mask, snorkel, fins, beach shoes and get your underwater camera ready. Since the sun can be quite strong, put on skin suit with long arms and legs. We could spend 2 hours or longer in the water each time we snorkeled. In this regard, our favourite was Sea Fans homestay in the remote Manyaifun Island owned by the family of Lindert Mambrasar. It took 3-4 hours from Waisai (transfer cost of Rp 1.8 M/boat for 4-6 people) but there were lots pristine spots close by costing Rp 300K - 600K each trip. This turned out to be more cost & time-efficient than staying closer to Waisai and had to spend more on boat trips. Kostan, Lindert’s brother, were great in picking and choosing the best places to snorkel depending on weather. We also loved the company of the children (their younger brothers). Usually we did 1 or 2 boat trips daily. Sometimes guests from nearby homestay, Bon Wauw (owned by Lindert’s uncle), joined us or the other way around and we shared the cost. When we ventured out a bit far, in between morning and noon snorkeling we enjoyed a simple lunch at a beautiful white sandy beach of an uninhabited island. If you want this kind of picnic, tell them ahead so they can prepare the food and extra gasoline for the trip. To book Sea Fans, contact Lindert Mambrasar through facebook or bookingdotcom (no longer registered with stayrajaampat). We plan to go back there by year end.
If you want to dive, choose a homestay with dive facilities or one that has arrangement with a dive centre. Use relevant filters in stayrajaampat web. Certainly, you can also splurge and stay at a dive resort or liveaboard.

COMMUNICATION & TIMELINESS
All of the homestays we had stayed in had very nice owners and family members helping out. They were simple, honest, kind and tried their best to make our stay enjoyable. Since most could not speak English, sometimes they had difficulties accommodating the interests/requests of foreign guests. Taking with you a dictionary could help. When you have certain diet or prefer certain food, for example fried rice for breakfast instead of the usual sweet cakes, tell them early (most groceries had to be sourced in Waisai).
With regard to timeliness, however, it’s better to lower your expectations and have plan b. For example, if you want to go by boat at 8 and it has been agreed to, it can move to 9, 10 or later. Various reasons: need to buy fuel and seller is not yet open, engine needs repair, food for picnic is not yet ready, etc. - which can be real. But some things can be better anticipated, managed and communicated instead of saying yes in the first place. It is fine to remind them often - kindly. When it comes to weather though, nothing much they/we can do. For this reason, on our last day in RA, we tried to stay closest to Waisai so we could catch the ferry and not missing our flight. Leaving earliest in the morning is best.

3  Thank GabyVM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Before landing in this paradise, I don't expect anything beyond my wildest dream but this place brings me to life that paradise exists and R4 is the place.

Breathtaking in all as far as eyes can see.
Amazing in all as far as heart can feel.

I feel every thrill in what I see and feel.

This place was really a paradise and you all must visit this place before it changes in years to come.

Yes, a lost heaven was found in Raja Ampat



(This trip was done in March 2017)

Thank AnthonySteven
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2018

I traveled on the Mermaid 1 on the Bio Diversity Trip from Sarong to Maumare the quality of customer service was evident from the moment I was picked up from the airport. I arrived early morning and was collected from the airport and taken to the boat. This was a first, as normally no matter what time you arrive you are not allowed on the boat until late afternoon, early evening and the transfer is at one set time.
The crew are excellent and ensure the best possible experience for the passenger the food is tasty,plentiful and provides for any dietary requirements.
It goes without saying that the diving is some of the best in the world and this trip provides you with the opportunity to visit sites not normally visited.
All dives are from two Zodiac boats and the dive masters are knowledgeable and excellent at finding the wildlife. The crew enabled everyone to have a great time whilst ensuring the safety of the divers and this was maintained throughout the 48 dives of the trip. The end of the trip was again a pleasurable experience, again the service provided was excellent with staggered departure times for the guests rather than everyone being offloaded first thing in the morning. Many of the guests were returning customers and I can see why given the quality of service.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the Mermaid 1 if you are planning to dive in Indonesia, although this was a major crossing trip they also have stand alone itineraries in Raja Ampat and Komodo and feel sure it would be an equally rewarding experience.

Thank yorkie025
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 11 June 2018

Having been traveling in tropical regions for 30 years, Raja Ampat has been a dream for a long time, but I have always been very apprehensive about the cost. This year I finally took the plunge during my 60 day trip around Eastern Indonesia. To my surprise, if you do things right, this archipelago turned out to be rather affordable, and I spent 10 days longer than the 2 weeks I actually planned. You can anyway not avoid the 1 Million Rupiah entrance fee (which is fortunately invested in conservation and valid for one year), so better stay as long as possible.

Some advice in chapters (skip ahead if not interested in one):

General description and time frame:
Raja Ampat (The 4 Kings, often abbreviated R4) is one of these quintessential tropical island destinations. The islands are spectacular and diverse above water, featuring mountainous and karst islands, as well as coral cays. With high biodiversity, including several endemic species of mammals and birds, they are second to none below the surface. This is probably the richest coral reef system on the planet. Just snorkeling I have seen plenty of turtles, dugongs, reef sharks, walking sharks, wobbegongs, dolphins, mantas & eagle rays and literally billions of smaller fish. Don’t underestimate the size of this island group, even if it looks tiny on a map. There are more than 1500 islands and the largest island Waigeo measures about 110 km East to West. Traveling tranquilly on a budget you will need about a month to see most of Northern Raja Ampat, more if you want to include Misool in the South.

Who should NOT go to Raja Ampat:
If you are a hardcore budget traveler getting by on less than 10€/13$ per day, possible elsewhere in Indonesia, Raja Ampat is not for you. I met some people camping or bringing a second hand folding kayak, this might be an option! In case you need a strong phone signal, Wifi, AC or a hot shower, no way, unless you want to spend loads of money! If you are a novice snorkeller/diver Raja Ampat might not be suitable either. The best spots involve dealing with strong currents and you could get in danger and/or damage the coral. Also consider that if you are young or inexperienced, you should rather keep Raja Ampat for the future. The sheer beauty & biodiversity will spoil you and you might not be able to appreciate other good spots in the world anymore.

Pre-departure & what to bring:
As English is not widely spoken, do yourself a favor and learn a few words of Bahasa, a very easy language with hardly any grammar. You will be received in a completely different way, be able to communicate with locals and ultimately save money, negotiating for transfer prices for example. An Indonesian-English app that works offline will come in handy. Bring your own mask, snorkel and compact fins (currents are a real issue), rental equipment is not always available and often of inferior quality. Your own shorty/light weight wetsuit might come in handy as well, protecting you from microjellyfish and the fierce tropical sun. An offline tide app like DGS is necessary if you are a serious snorkeler and want to predict currents.
As electricity is limited to a few hours in the evening bring 2 flashlights or 3 and an adaptor to charge several devices at the same time. Sunscreen and mosquito repellent are a must. Alcohol is rarely available and ridiculously expensive, so if you need booze in paradise, BYO!!! If you don’t eat fish, bring some snacks, as you can expect fish, rice and veggies 3 times a day.
There are no ATMs outside the capital Waisai, so pack plenty of cash. Asking nicely at a dive shop I managed to get a cash advance on my credit card though. An Indonesian Telkomsel SIM card is a must to book homestays by SMS. Your hosts won’t be able to reply to foreign numbers. R4 is not exactly known for its nightlife, so bring some good books, movies, card games…

Access:
Compared to other ‘paradise island’ destinations like the Bandas, Banyaks or Togians, Raja Ampat is surprisingly easy to get to, thanks to regular domestic flights to Sorong. My arrival flight from Manado and departure flight to Ambon cost me less than 650K (40€) each. There are 2 fast ferries from Sorong to Waisai per day (9/14 h) for 135K one-way. You will be received by tour guides bringing you to the information counter to pay the NP entrance fee. This is the one and only time you should have booked a homestay in advance, as your hosts will pick you up from the pier.

Dangers & environmental hazards:
Papuans are wonderful and welcoming people, I never had any problem leaving several million rupiah of cash in my unlockable hut. The sun, heat and humidity can be rather tiresome for people (and electronic devices) used to a temperate climate, as can be mozzies and other biting insects. Currents are the main danger when snorkeling. Marine life is plentiful and you should take the usual precautions, avoiding fire coral, jellyfish and stonefish for example. Saltwater crocodiles do live in some mangrove areas, so consult locals before heading out into the water. If you have a severe medical condition, you should avoid very remote homestays. In my homestay on Birie Island, the family left to their village Arefi on the neighboring island. No transport nor phone signal, so if you have a medical emergency at night, game over.


Homestay accommodation:
‘Homestays’ in R4 are beach huts as found elsewhere in Southeast Asia, they range from ultra basic to really comfy. Nowadays there are 130+ homestays in R4, compared to a dozen 10 years ago, so unless you are traveling in peak season you shouldn’t have trouble finding lodging (the exception being touristy Kri Island and popular places like Kordiris and Beser Bay on Gam). Standard price is 350K (20 €) per person per day, including 3 meals, water, coffee & tea. Some homestays are more expensive and others might give you a discount (300K/day) if you stay a week. Many homestays have a couple of new free standing huts, far superior to their older rooms in a communal hut. Ask for those when booking. Visit Stayrajaampat for details. Please remember that your hosts are basically fishermen or subsistence farmers, with no experience or formal training in hospitality, so don’t expect Bali standards. Most places provide shared Western toilet, bucket shower, toilet paper and towels, though it once happened to me that my hosts looked at me like an alien when I asked for a towel.
You should definitely prebook your first Homestay, after I recommend to book by SMS (in Bahasa) the day before or even on the day of your arrival at the next one. This will leave you more flexibility: Stay longer in a place you like, leave sooner in a place you don’t and above all share transfer costs with fellow travelers. Just showing up at a homestay is unlikely to work out, as many don’t have visitors for weeks/months and are in permanent hibernation mode. Better to let them know you are coming, so they can open up the place, clean and buy food.


Transfers & excursions:

Transfer prices are ridiculously high in R4, so as a budget traveler it is better to spend some time on each island (I did 5 islands in 25 days + boat excursions to several others). In a perfect world you should travel in a group of 4-6 people to share transfer costs. Nonetheless, if you are alone it is highly likely you will meet other travelers to share costs with.
If you find yourself in the situation of being solo, don’t despair and haggle. Sometimes I only paid 30 percent of the ‘official’ transfer price (fuel only). Also consider that some hosts will quote a speed boat price for transfers, ask for a longboat instead, slower but a lot cheaper.
To save money on excursions, try to choose a homestay with a magnificent house reef. Being alone, it is generally possible to negotiate excursion prices as well.

Individual Islands:

I haven’t done them all, but will definitely be back one day to visit Misool, Pianyemo and the Fam Islands.
Kri is by far the most touristic island in R4, hardly Ibiza style though. The North Coast is a solid row of beach huts. The beach in the Southwest looked more tranquil and beautiful. Mansuar is less developed. I visited both islands on a day trip, so I am hardly an expert. Snorkeling famous Cape Kri was kind of underwhelming.
Gam Island is huge with several areas offering homestay accommodation. I chose the mangrove lined South coast between Kapisawar & Sawinggrai. To get into the water is easy jumping off the pier in either village, getting out of the water at low tide is a different story. The reef has suffered from severe storm damage. An advantage of this coast is that you can drift with the current and walk back, fine for inexperienced snorkelers. The best coral by far can be found at the entrance of Gam Bay (Beser Bay area). Expect very strong currents on the outgoing tide.
Arborek Island turned out to be one of my favorites, tiny island, lovely village, huge and spectacular reef. Snorkeling the entire perimeter of the reef is for experienced snorkelers only, if the current runs West to East. Choose an above water hut in the Northwest for refreshing sea breezes and spectacular sunset views.
I had the privilege to be the only traveler on Manyaifun for 6 days, Robinson feeling. Very remote island, fantastic beach, fine house reef protected by tribal Sasi laws, plenty of walking sharks and more fish than I have seen anywhere else before. Not exactly cheap to get to, but absolutely worth it.
Batanta (Birie Island) is another place I would recommend if you like to be ‘at the end of the world’. The best area for Dugong spotting in R4, many Mantas around Pulau Wai and an unbelievably rich reef system. Don’t expect luxury though.
Friwen is kind of underrated, mainly visited by day trippers diving the famous wall on Friwen Bonda. The lagoon in the South is paradise and there are a couple of good snorkeling spots around the Norteastern and Southeastern tip of the fringing reef. Due to it’s proximity to Waisai, the island is comparatively cheap to get to and receives good phone/4G signal.

That’s it! Enjoy!!!

7  Thank Parosite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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