How To Get To Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is for the many the ultimate diving destination – but how do you get there? Here’s a rundown of the different ways of getting this amazing and remote dive location in Indonesia.

To get to Raja Ampat, you need to fly to the Indonesian airport of Sorong. It’s located over on the far east of Indonesia, at the northern end of Papua island, which is politically divided between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Virtually all Raja Ampat liveaboards depart from or arrive at Sorong.

(If you’re looking to book a trip on a Raja Ampat liveaboard, see currently available trips at Liveaboard.com)

To get to Sorong, the five main routes are

1) Singapore – Manado – Sorong
2) Bali – Ujung Pandang (Makassar) – Sorong
3) Jakarta – Ujung Pandang (Makassar) – Sorong
4) Kuala Lumpur – Manado – Sorong
5) Kuala Lumpur – Ujung Pandang (Makassar) – Sorong

For visitors to Raja Ampat who don’t live in Asia, transiting through Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Hong Kong is probably best as they have the most up to date facilities – see Kuala Lumpur Airport Hotel, Hong Kong Airport Hotels and Singapore Airport Hotels: A Quick Guide for transit info if you need to stop over.

At the time of writing, these are the current airlines flying each leg – please only take this as a rough guide to help you start your research for planning flights. If anyone has experience of flying these routes and has advice to offer, please leave a comment – thanks!

Tip: Use Skyscanner to see what flights are available on these routes and compare prices between carriers where available. Please note that most domestic Indonesian carriers do not allow online booking – see note below.

1) Singapore to Manado is serviced by Silk Air.
Manado to Sorong is serviced by Lion Air.

2) Bali to Ujung Pandang is serviced by AirAsia and Garuda.
Ujung Pandang (Makassar) to Sorong is serviced by Lion Air

3) Jakarta to Ujung Pandang (Makassar) is serviced by Garuda, Merpati and Lion Air.
Ujung Pandang (Makassar) to Sorong is serviced by Lion Air

4) Kuala Lumpur to Manado is serviced by Silk Air.
Air Asia terminated their Kuala Lumpur to Manado route in February 2010.
Manado to Sorong is serviced by Lion Air.

5) Kuala Lumpur to Ujung Pandang (Makassar) is serviced by AirAsia.
Ujung Pandang (Makassar) to Sorong is serviced by Lion Air

Tip:
Don’t forget that Manado is the nearest airport to Lembeh Strait and Bunaken, so if you want to dive there as well it makes a great stop off point.

Really Important Tip:
Note that Ujung Pandang was previously called Makassar and the names still appear interchangably on flight tickets and departure notice boards in airports and in use by airline crew over the cabin intercom. Spare yourself the stress of wondering if you got on the wrong flight, in the middle of the night, during a thunderstorm, as me and my dive buddy did, by remembering this ;-)

Booking Flights On Domestic Indonesian Carriers
You will need to use domestic Indonesian airlines to get to Sorong. The main airlines are Garuda, Lion Air, Wings Air and Merpati. It is very difficult to buy tickets for domestic Indonesian flights online, as these airlines do not accept credit cards issued outside Indonesia. Their websites are also for the main part quite primitive so perhaps it’s not wise to rely on them to secure your booking. You can also use third party agents based in Indonesia to book these flights for you but, from personal experience, I’ve found them to be pretty useless at responding in a timely fashion.

Your liveaboard company should be able to book all your domestic flights for you as a matter of course. They will probably charge you a nominal fee e.g. 10 per cent to do this. Because they are based in Indonesia, they should be able to secure cheap fares for you on domestic Indonesian carriers. Their liveaboard representative will usually meet you at your port of entry into Indonesia so as to give you the domestic tickets and help you check onto the flight.



Make Sure You Have Diving And Travel Insurance

World Nomads is one of the leading travel insurance providers and their coverage also includes scuba diving to 40 metres too if you select the relevant options. Make sure you're covered insurance-wise both above and below water.

Comments

  1. Hi Chris,

    Another good post!! But if I may suggest, if you don’t dive in Manado, better your fly to Jakarta from HK/KL/Singapore. Then fly to Sorong on the next morning. There are 3 airlines from Jakarta to Sorong; Merpati, Lion Air and Express Air (Garuda not fly to Sorong). Merpati will transit in Makassar/Ujung Pandang no more than 1 hour. Lion Air will transit in Ambon, longer route and price is a bit expensive compare to the other 2 airlines.

    If you fly from Manado to Sorong by Lion Air, you will take this route: Manado – Makassar – Ambon – Sorong. A long journey but I think you have no other choice.

    Am not sure about Express Air’s route, but I heard they have the same route with Merpati. But the aircraft is older than Merpati, price slightly cheaper.

    Merpati depart Jakarta early in the morning (about 5am or 6am) and will arrive Sorong about lunch time then you can start LOB on the same day and will have 2 dives on day1.

    You may check their websites (not that primitive but a bit frustating hehe) http://www.merpati.co.id/default.aspx and https://secure2.lionair.co.id/lionairibe/OnlineBooking.aspx

    Last time, I took merpati from Jakarta to Sorong, coz they have a good schedule. But please note, they may change their schedule in short notice, don’t be surprised :-)

    Cheers,
    Adri

  2. Awesome, detailed info Adri – thanks for taking the time to let me know! I bet this will be very useful for others too. Cheers, Chris