Marjukka M (traveler)
2 years ago
Are you planning a trip to Raja Ampat
– perhaps to see the natural beauty of West Papua or to do a liveaboard
diving trip? Well, there are ways to get here that are a helluva lot
easier than others. Here’s how to get to Raja Ampat – and how NOT to get
I’ve done the trip but what I didn’t tell you was how much of a pain in the butt it was to get to Sorong Indonesia from Jakarta.
And it was all my own fault. Complete lack of research. If you want
to know how to get to Raja Ampat, it’s quite simple – don’t do what I
It’s beautiful once you get there. Just do it right!
By the way, with the exception of a short visit to Sorong, my trip to
Raja Ampat was completely boat-based.
Now, I like to save money. But I’m here to tell you, what I ended up
doing was so stressful that I highly recommend avoiding it – especially
if you have expensive diving equipment, like I do.
To save a paltry $150, I decided to fly to Sorong airport in West
Papua on a budget airline. The route was Jakarta to Surabaya to Manado
to Sorong. It turned out that this was how to get to Raja Ampat in just
about the most annoying way possible.
Here’s the problem with that – they don’t tell you when you book the
flight that when you get to Surabaya, you have to change planes. Hell,
they don’t even tell you Surabaya is on the itinerary.
You have ONE boarding pass from Jakarta to Manado and ONE from Manado to Sorong airport. There’s no reason for you to ever believe you were going to Surabaya – let alone that you have to get off the plane.
Not only that, but the second plane takes off 15 minutes after you get there.
Now, unless you speak a little Indonesian, which I do, how the hell are
you supposed to even know this? It says nothing about the plane change
on your ticket. You’re just supposed to magically know!
This was all made ten times more stressful because I travel with my
own dive equipment which is quite expensive. With only 15 minutes to get
off a flight, run to a new gate, and get on another flight, I was
honestly scared to death that I was going to lose several thousand
dollars worth of gear.
I was lucky. It took all freakin’ day, but fortunately, I arrived in
Sorong. My equipment did as well, but it was not a fun journey – not in
the least. I think my nerve endings suffered a lot of damage that day.
Oh, and that stupid $150 I was so intent on saving?
Take one guess what the fee was to ship my dive equipment.
You guessed it. It was 75 ******* dollars each way.
I. Saved. Nothing.
My friend, Rafael, who was traveling separately from me, decided that
the simplest to get to Raja Ampat was to fly directly from Jakarta to
Sorong. His flight was a few hours and about $150 more expensive.
Luggage cost: $0. His mental health: completely intact. The lesson:
There is a time to cheap out and a time not cheap out! DO
NOT fly the cheap route from Jakarta to Sorong. It’s not worth the
headache – especially if you’re traveling with expensive checked
Instead of booking a cheaper flight, spend the extra $150 and book your Jakarta to Sorong flights on XpressAir or Garuda Indonesia
(SkyTeam partner). Direct flights to Sorong will likely be overnight
(usually at 1:20 AM), but it will be worth it! Bali to Sorong flights
are the same.
And there’s less of a chance you’ll arrive sick and/or exhausted,
neither of which you want, especially if you’re getting on a boat!
Whether you’re flying to Sorong from Jakarta or from Bali, you can
travel the right way by relaxing in one of the lounges at each airport.
Each of these lounges is 100% free if you have a Priority Pass.
If you travel regularly, it gives you free access to over 1,000 lounges
around the world. In most cases, you can bring a guest in for free!
Beats sitting in h0t airports and paying for food and drinks!
In the end, my flight didn’t cost any more or less than Rafael’s, but
his life was so much easier than mine. When I got to the Swiss Belhotel
in Sorong, he was happily relaxing in our hotel room, not a care in the
Me? I think I lost most of my hair!
By the way, it was a luxury hotel – the Swiss Belhotel. And this was our amazing view!
Luckily for both of us, there was a ton of delicious Indonesian food in the area and we got our fill! Indonesian food makes all the pain go away!
View aside, the Swiss Belhotel
is one of the nicest hotels in the area, with comfortable suites and
good food – and about $50 a night – totally OK if you’re only spending
the night before you get on your liveaboard!