Raja Ampat is the ultimate diver’s paradise. Rugged, remote, untouched, and pristine. However, it’s important to be prepared for visiting such a location.
Here are some important tips to help you be prepared and make the most of your holiday.
First things first, visas. Most countries will get a free 30-day tourist visa. However, you are then limited to those 30 days. You may even need to show proof of a flight leaving before those 30 days are up.
Another option is the visa upon arrival. It gives you your first 30 days and then is extendable for another 30 days after that. Giving you a total of 60 days in Indonesia. If you choose this option, you must pay for it at the airport, before going through immigration. They take most currencies, and there is an ATM, so paying shouldn’t be an issue. At the time of writing this, the cost is approximately 5,000,000 rupiah (which is about $35 USD).
Then you need to make sure you extend the visa, at least 10 days in advance. This will involve two trips to immigration. One to start the process and paperwork. Then a couple of days later, you’ll get invited back for fingerprinting. Voila – an extra 30 days.
Do not overstay your visa! There is a 1,000,000 rupiah penalty per day if you do. Which is approx. $70 USD… per day! Again – do not overstay your visa!!!
You can also hire a company here to help you with your visa, should you have any questions, or would like the extra reassurance.
Side note on how to get to Raja Ampat: You’ll need to take a flight to Sorong. Then take a two-hour ferry to Waisai. Sorong does have an immigration office. However, there isn’t much to do there as a tourist. And the back and forth can be tedious. We recommend getting your visa extended if you need to do so before you venture out here.
Please check your own country’s visa requirements before leaving home!
There are ATMs in Sorong and one in Waisai. However – best if you plan before you come in case there are any issues with it. A few places (like here at Scuba Republic) will take a credit card. But definitely ask before, as they are few and far between. You will need cash for the taxi to the ferry, the ferry itself, etc.
Raja Ampat is the perfect place to visit to disconnect from it all. We know that’s impossible and/or stress-inducing for most people though. So, what to do? Embrace Indonesia, dive and sleep more. Kidding… kinda. But you should know, WiFi isn’t a thing out here. If you can find it, its reliability is actually laughable.
However, the internet via a local SIM card is actually quite good. At least in Waisai, and even some of the various homestays. The more remote islands you venture out to, the spottier it will be. There is no guarantee, but most of the time this works well.
There are four major cell phone carriers to choose from. For Raja Ampat, you want to go with Telkomsel. It’s as easy as switching out your SIM card (if your phone is unlocked – most new phones are, but it’s worth checking with your carrier).
When you first buy the SIM it will have a package on it of your choosing. Then going forward, you’ll want to download the app. You can go to most convenience stores to buy credit. Then go to the app to change the credit into whatever data package you want. There are various options, but you just want the plain “internet” option (not local).
This is also Indonesia, and censorship is definitely a thing. And I’m not talking about just porn. Netflix – blocked. Reddit – blocked. Youtube – blocked. The list goes on. While this shouldn’t affect your holiday too much, it’s good to know. Also why the VPN exists – but you can research that one on your own.
Raja Ampat is part of Papua. As you know by now, that’s far from the main tourist hub of Bali. Being unspoiled and not overrun by said tourists are the upsides.
Mosquitos are the thing that gets the most questions. Yes, there are mosquitos. And yes, you need bug spray. However, while there have been cases of malaria, dengue, and Zika, we are in a relatively low transmission area. Of course, better safe than sorry. Hence the spray.
The main draw to Raja Ampat (and why you’re most likely reading this), is to come and dive. Bonus – mosquitos don’t like water or wind, so this isn’t an issue on boats or if you choose a liveaboard.
Diving and medication get tricky. The risk of the medication giving you problems before/during or after is much higher than the risk of needing the medication in the first place. When you discuss this with your doctor please mention you will be diving. If you choose to medicate, some types are more diving friendly than others.
It would also be a good idea to bring a doctor’s note saying you care cleared to dive, despite your current medications. If you check on any diving intake that you are on medication, you will not be able to dive until you can see a doctor and get clearance. Which, in a remote land, can be much more challenging.
As far as other drugs go, again being so remote, things are harder to come by beyond ibuprofen. You might want to bring a small kit of things like Pepto-Bismol, Benadryl, etc.
Again, be aware if you take anything that may affect diving or you get sick – diving may not be allowed.
Please consult your doctor for their advice on this specific to you and your needs. Also, check out the CDC for specific information and recommendations. This is not medical advice – but our opinion from being out here.
As you know by now, Raja Ampat the Diver’s Paradise is remote. Homestays and liveaboards provide all meals in most cases. Here at Scuba Republic, the meals are often a fish/chicken option, a tofu/tempeh option, a vegetable, and white rice. Most Indonesian food is fried and comes with some level of spiciness. The fruit is scarce. Breakfast is often eggs and bread.
Which brings us to snacks. Buy them, bring them, share them, Lol. Especially if you have dietary restrictions, are picky, or you don’t want to miss your favourite things from home.
Supplements are good to bring if you take them at home. They also help balance out a different diet.
As far as what clothes to pack, Indonesia is a conservative country. They cover up. And yes, it’s typically hot and humid. Light and thin clothes are best. A bikini on a dive boat or liveaboard is perfectly acceptable, however not so much back on land. Especially in more remote areas. So make sure you bring a cover-up.
Shorts and a t-shirt or tank top is fine in many areas. Just make sure they aren’t very revealing. Layers are good, just in case. Also important when visiting immigration or temples. For these things, you will need to cover shoulders, knees, and have a pair of closed-toed shoes. Respect for culture goes a long way here.
There is no power between 6am – 6pm.
Another side note on no power is that of charging electronics – we recommend you bring an external battery pack to charge things during the day. For outlets, the adapter you will need is the “C” (known as the standard “Euro” plug) or “F” style.
Alright, ladies, let’s be super clear about this one. You will not find tampons anywhere here. Please, do yourself a favour and plan in advance. Bring anything you may need, and then some, in case.
Another option would be the cup. This is great for diving. And even better for the environment. Do keep in mind, however – you don’t drink the water here, you don’t wash cuts in the water here… so you most likely don’t want to clean the cup via the water here. I’m sure a cup of boiling water would be easy to come by for this purpose, but depending on location and type of accommodation – it could be a hassle.
And an FYI while on the topic: The bathroom while diving via day boat or safari is often jumping in the water. Nowhere in Indonesia do you flush toilet paper. And there is something called a “bum gun” to help you… wash.
So – embrace the remote. The rugged. The pay off will be some of the best diving of your life. Disconnect from it all. Get back to basics. And have an epic adventure most only dream of.
Written by Nicole Smelson
Pictures by Wander Deeper and Nicole Smelson
For more inquiries on the Raja Ampat Liveaboard, Komodo Liveaboard, Dive Expeditions and Safari Trip, please do not hesitate to contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org