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Category Archive: Raja Ampat Indonesia

Welcome to Raja Ampat Islands – Papua – Indonesia

Located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings, is an archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta, and Waigeo, and the smaller island of Kofiau.

Its location in Papua, one of the furthest places you can get in Indonesia, may give you a head shake. But it’s a diver’s mecca anyone must not miss! The location of the archipelago, far from the big cities and villages, makes the reef still pure as it was. The wide area of pristine blue water contains millions of reefs and fishes, many that you will never see anywhere else. If you are not diving, there are islands up above you can climb, or blend in with the locals. Amazingly, the area is actually much more popular with foreign tourists who seek adrenaline and beauty, rather than domestic.

Politically, Raja Ampat is a regency (equivalent to US counties), with the capital Wasai at Waigeo Island. This town is the starting point for your exploration in the area.

Climate:
The best time to visit Raja Ampat is during the dry October-April timeframe, in contrast to the western and central Indonesia that is often soaked by rain at this time. Despite that, because of its tropical climate, rain can unpredictably fall, although much less frequent during the dry season. It is still feasible to travel other than the dry season, but the weather is often a toss-up: you can be under the sunshine while it is raining in the immediate horizon.

Temperatures remain consistent throughout the year, averaging 25 to 32 degrees Centigrade, but its humidity may make it feel hotter.

Raja Ampat Regency is a new regency which separated from Sorong Regency in 2004. It encompasses more than 40,000 km² of land and sea, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia. It is a part of the newly named West Papua province of Indonesia which was formerly Irian Jaya. Some of the islands are the most northern pieces of land in the Australian continent.

History:
The name of Raja Ampat comes from local mythology that tells about a woman who finds seven eggs. Four of the seven eggs hatch and become kings that occupy four of Raja Ampat biggest islands whilst the other three become a ghost, a woman, and a stone.

History shows that Raja Ampat was once a part of Sultanate of Tidore, an influential kingdom from Maluku. Yet, after the Dutch invaded Maluku, it was shortly claimed by the Netherlands.

The English explorer William Dampier gave his name to Dampier Strait, which separates Batanta island from Waigeo island. To the east, there is a strait that separates Batanta from Salawati. In 1759 Captain William Wilson sailing in the East Indiaman Pitt navigated these waters and named one strait Pitt strait, after his vessel; this was probably the channel between Batanta and Salawati.

Population:
The main occupation for people around this area is fishing since the area is dominated by the sea. They live in a small colony of tribes that spreads around the area. Although traditional culture still strongly exists, they are very welcoming to visitors. Raja Ampat people are more like Ambonese than Papuan people and now some of them are Muslim and some of them are Christian

Geography:
The oceanic natural resources around Raja Ampat give it significant potential as a tourist area. Many sources place Raja Ampat as one of their top ten most popular places for diving whilst it retains the number one ranking in terms of underwater biodiversity.

According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth.[3] Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and East Timor. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world’s coral reef biodiversity, making Raja Ampat quite possibly the richest coral reef ecosystems in the world.

The area’s massive coral colonies along with relatively high sea surface temperatures, also suggest that its reefs may be relatively resistant to threats like coral bleaching and coral disease, which now jeopardize the survival of other coral ecosystems around the world. The Raja Ampat islands are remote and relatively undisturbed by humans.

The high marine diversity in Raja Ampat is strongly influenced by its position between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as coral and fish larvae are more easily shared between the two oceans. Raja Ampat’s coral diversity, resilience, and role as a source for larval dispersal make it a global priority for marine protection.

1,508 fish species, 537 coral species (a remarkable 96% of all scleractinia recorded from Indonesia are likely to occur in these islands and 75% of all species that exist in the world[4]), and 699 mollusk species, the variety of marine life is staggering.[5] Some areas boast enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs.

Raja Ampat Islands have at least three ponds containt unpoisoned jellyfish, all in Misool area.

Although accessing the islands is not that difficult, it takes some time. It takes six hours flight from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia to Sorong. Then, taking a boat to reach the islands is necessary.

Diving:
As mentioned above, Raja Ampat is a diver’s mecca! Travelers from around the world spend time entering this area of Indonesia to explore what nature has to offer. Millions of fishes and reefs are under the blue waters, many species that you cannot find anywhere else.

Non diving:
If you are not diving, you can still have fun! Walk the island, visit the villages, admire the nature, or snorkel and see the natural wonders!

 

How to Get to Raja Ampat Islands – Indonesia

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How to get to Raja Ampat
1: Getting to Sorong
Flight info presented here is aimed at international travellers seeking the quickest route to Raja Ampat from outside Indonesia and so ignores flights to Sorong from airports not serviced by international flights (Ambon, Jayapura etc). Info is current as of February 2014, but the Indonesian air travel market is volatile and things change quickly – be sure to confirm by checking via the provided links.

Domine Eduard Osok Airport – SOQ

Sorong’s airport is Domine Eduard Osok (IATA code: SOQ) not Jefman Airport as some sources report. Jefman is an older airport (originally built by the Japanese during World War II) on an island off Sorong. There is also the Marinda Airport at Waisai, with twice weekly flights between it and Sorong. See below for information about Sorong-Waisai flights.

– There are no international flights into Sorong
– There are no direct flights from Bali to Sorong
– The only international airports in Indonesia that offer direct flights to Sorong are Jakarta, Makassar and Manado

Attention KITAS holders: bring your passport! October 2014 – Although it’s quite legal for those holding them to travel within Indonesia with just a KITAS, we have reports of an immigration official at Sorong airport demanding to see passports and imposing an IDR 2 million (~USD 200.00) “fine” for any foreigners travelling without one. Be prepared!

– From outside Indonesia:
Via Jakarta:
– Lots of airlines fly from Southeast Asian hubs to Jakarta (Skyscanner is a good flight search site)

Via Makassar:
– Silk Air offers 3 flights a week from Singapore to Makassar (flights codeshared with Singapore Airlines and Garuda Indonesia)
Air Asia offers direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Makassar

Via Manado:
– Silk Air flies Singapore to Manado 4 times a week (flights codeshared with Singapore Airlines)

From inside Indonesia:
– Skyscanner to check availability of flights from your departure point
If you’re having trouble booking internal flights, Mau ke Mana are reliable agents and can arrange ticket purchases for you
If you want to experience sea travel in the archipelago, here’s Indonesia’s Pelni ship schedules.

1. Flights Schedule Link:
– Express Air :
https://booking.xpressair.co.id/EAStart.aspx?New=1&Language=en&CurrencyOverride=IDR

– Garuda Indonesia:
https://www.garuda-indonesia.com/id/en/index.page

– Sriwijaya Air:
https://www.sriwijayaair.co.id/welcome.php

– Lion/Wings Air:
https://secure2.lionair.co.id/lionAirSked/default.aspx

2. Sorong airport to harbour transfers

The taxi ride from Sorong airport to the ferry harbour takes around 10-20 minutes, depending on traffic, and costs around 100,000 Rupiah (~ USD10.00)

If you don’t have a lot of luggage you can get a lift on the back of a motorbike (ojek) for about 20,000 Rupiah (~USD2.00)

If you’re trying to keep costs as low as possible you can get there for 6000 Rupiah if you’re happy to walk a few hundred metres to the main road and catch the yellow public bimos (minibuses) to the city terminal, then transfer to the bimos heading for the harbour. Each leg of the trip is 3000 Rupiah – no news yet on how long that takes…
3: How to get from Sorong to the Raja Ampat islands

There are three choices for making your own way from Sorong to the Raja Ampat islands:

3. Public Ferries

There are two ferry types (express and ‘slow boat’) that make the crossing between Sorong and Waisai. Waisai is on the island of Waigeo and is the capital of the Raja Ampat regency. Almost all of the accommodation options on this website provide pickup from Waisai.

Both the express ferries and the slow boat run every day except Islamic Indonesian public holidays (they run on non-Islamic holidays like Christmas and Easter) and both types have departures from both Sorong and Waisai scheduled at around 2.00pm. Departures can often be delayed, so it’s worth asking someone to call the harbour if you’re running late.

The express ferry takes around two hours to make the crossing. The slow boat takes about four hours. Naturally, most travellers prefer the express boats!

At last report, slow boat tickets cost IDR 140,000 (~USD 14.00) and can be purchased either on the pier before boarding or on the boat itself. A limited number of private cabins are available if you want one. For the best deal ask one of the crew about these.

Express ferry tickets currently range from IDR 130,000 to IDR 220,000 depending upon the class of seat you want. A VIP seat will give you an adjustable-back chair in an airconditioned room equipped with a state-of-the-art loud karaoke system that usually sees a lot of use.

At Sorong harbour, the white and orange Bahari Express ferries can be found by going to the very end of the L-shaped pier. The express ferry is tied up alongside the ship at the end of dock and you have to cross that ship’s deck to board the ferry. The slow boat (normally the Fajar Mulia) is usually to be found on the right hand side of the jetty, at the corner of the “L”.

Express ferry schedule
The table below shows the express ferry schedule and was correct at March 4 2015. Schedules can change without notice. The tourism office in the JE Meridien Hotel and your accommodation provider will be able to provide up to date accurate ferry information. Ferry departures can often be delayed. We’ve experienced a delay of over 90 minutes on one occasion, with departure being delayed to wait for late VIPs to show up. You’re taking a risk by scheduling a 2.00pm Waisai departure to connect with a late afternoon flight out of Sorong!

4. Speedboats
If you’re in a real hurry, you can charter speedboats to take you directly to your accommodation. The speedboat harbour is about 200m west of the ferry wharf. Speedboats are far more expensive (hundreds of dollars) and a lot less comfortable than the public ferries. It would probably be better to plan your arrival on one of the early flights and get the plane across to Waisai as below…

5. Sorong to Waisai flights
A 16 seat Twin Otter operated by Susi Air flies from Sorong to Waisai’s Marinda Airport and return. The route isn’t commercially viable yet and Susi Air only operates it thanks to a subsidy from the Raja Ampat government. As such, schedules can be changed without notice, so be sure to contact the airline to confirm the current schedule when planning your trip.

– Departs Sorong Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0830, arriving Waisai 0900
– Returns from Waisai Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0910, arriving Sorong 0940
Cost (one way – August 2014): Adult or child > IDR 405,000 Infant > IDR 150,000

Note:
Susi Air’s website doesn’t yet show the Sorong-Waisai route (they inherited the service from the now defunct Merpati airline), so it’s not possible to book online. Current information is that bookings are only able to be made at the Sorong and Manokwari offices.

– How to get from Waisai to the islands
The simplest way to get to your accommodation from Waisai is to arrange a pickup when you book the accommodation. Most of the homestays listed here publish Waisai transfer prices.

If you’d prefer to organise your own transport, your options are via Transwisata in Waisai, by chartering a local boat, or by seeing if you can find space in a boat going to a place near the one you want. Transwisata and most other small boats leave from the boat harbour at the end of Jalan Abdul Samad Mayor on the east side of Waisai. (On map below.)

The cost of transfer from Wasai to the islands is a sore point with many travellers. It’s not cheap and bargaining rarely yields a substantial discount on the asking prices. If you discover a good deal, please let us all know by commenting below!

The Islands of Raja Ampat – Papua – Indonesia

raja-ampat10

Raja Ampat archipelago is located in the heart of the world’s Coral Triangle and is the center of the richest tropical marine biodiversity in the world today. Raja Ampat regency is part of the West Irian Jaya province consisting of four major islands namely Pulau Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool and more than 600 small islands. Central government was situated in Waisai, District of South Waigeo. The islands are located in the westernmost of main island of Papua, Indonesia stretching over an area of approximately 4.6 million hectares. A team of experts from Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy discovered the existence of more than 540 coral species (75% of total species in the world), more than 1,000 species of reef fish, 700 species of mollusks and the highest record of gonodactyloid stomatopod crustaceans that is 75% of the world’s coral species in Raja Ampat. Nowhere in the world has a number of coral species as much as this.

The Major Islands:

South Waigeo around the Dampier Strait (Saonek-Gam-Mansuar)
Waigeo is the largest island in Raja Ampat. The central part is covered by forest across the lower foot hills and mountains below 1,000 m. The island is consis to flime stone, magma and volcanic. There are three endemic species living in Raja Ampat, they are: Maleo Waigeo (Aepypodius Bruijnii), Cendrawasih Merah (Paradisea Rubra) and cendrawasih Botak (Cicinnurus Respublica). Capital region of Raja Ampat is Waisai, as a center of various tourism supporting infrastructure such asaccommodation, meals, transportation, banks and others. Tourism is growing rapidly, especially for diving tourism In the southern part of Waigeo at around Dampier Strait, including on the island of Gamand Mansuar. However, this regional so presents a variety of tourist attractions for non-diving activities. The various locations are as follows:

Saonek Island
Small islands with clean and beautiful white sand, has a neatly arranged little village. The tourists will find the home industry of salted fish, snorkeling and enjoying the sunrise and sunset. Saonek Island can be reached in 10 minutes from Waiwo or Waisai by boat consist of two 40 HP engine. Facilities of hotels and resorts can be found on the island of Waigeo, butif you want to stay in Saonek, there are several homestay owned by the local community.

Mioskon Island
This small island has beautiful scenery and often fulfilled by big bats that flying at dusk. There is no settlement on this island, it can be reached in 30 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Friwen Island
Small island with its beautiful white sand and a place to see the endemic birds of red paradise (cendrawasih Merah). Friwen can be reached in 15 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Yenbeser
Located on the island of Gam, can be reached in 15 minutes from Waisai by boat consist of two 40 HP engine. The tourists can see beautiful scenery, mangrove and do snorkeling.

Teluk Kabui (Kabui Bay)
It is aquite wide bay located between the island and of Gam and Waigeo, filled with coral islands of varioussizes. In the shallow parts, clear sea will be seen when sunlight shine on it. Kayaking is suitable to be closer enjoying the natural atmosphere. Nearby Kabui, there is acave in the cliff and when low tide it will expose several human skulls scattered there. In the western part of the bay, a narrow canal like ariver flow splitting between the islands of Gamand Waigeo presents its own uniqueness. Kabui bay can be reached within 30 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Arborek Island
Besides the beautiful white sand beach, there is atourist village, Arborek, which is famous with its handcraft that produce hatsor the noken bag. There are several homestay shere that allow tourists to stay. Arborek can be reached within 45 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of 40 HP engine.

Sawinggrai
Sawinggrai Tourism Village is located on the island of Gam with the main attraction is to feed the fish by hand from the village jetty and bird watching of cendrawasih merah in Bukit Manjai. Bird watching is carried outin the morning between of 7 a.m. to 9a.m. or in the afternoon from 4p.m. to 5p.m. Tourists can stay in the village because there are homestay facilities. It can be reached within 30 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of 40 HP engine.

Yenwaubnor
Other tourist village on the island of Gam with the beautiful white sand beach. There is also bird watching of cenderawasih merah. The village can be reached within 30 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of 40 HP engine.

Sauwandarek
A Tourist village in Mansuar island with its white sand Beach and beautiful clear blue sea. How people making woven hats and bags can be seen in this village, visitors can also feeding fish in the sea from the jetty or visit the small salty water lake named Yenauwyau. It can be reached in 30 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine. Embossed Sand, Kri Island (Pasir Timbul Pulau Kri) The spread out of beautiful white sand can be found near the island of Kri as if emerging from the clear blue sea at low tide. Besides its beautiful scenery, also can be seen groups of sea birds playing on the sand. This place is also an excellent snorkeling location with various kinds of fish that can be found. It can be reached in 15 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine. There are near by accommodation facilities such as diving-resorts.

Pianemo
Pianemo, also known as Panemu is a place name in Fam archipelago, acluster of small coral islands surrounded by clear water and its hills covered by green vegetation. Travelers can do trekking at one of the hills and enjoying a very spectacular scenery. Swimming in clear water of Pianemo also provide its own sensation. It can be reached in 1 hour from Waisai by boat consist of two 40 HP engine.

West Waigeo (Waigeo Barat)
Western area of Waigeo island vast spread of beautiful coral islands in Wayag through the clear seain the Aljui Bay. Landscape above sea level served by this area is the same interesting as the beauty of undersea. A private company has been operating since the mid-1990’s, cultivation of large sea pearl Pinctada Maxima, because of the sea water quality is so good. Here are the locations of the travel pattern:

Hidden Bay and PEF
A beautiful small bay in Gam island, hidden cause covered by luxuriant vegetation. Its clear sea with coral reef under neath, suitable for snorkeling also kayaking. Tourist can continue the trip from Hidden Bay to PEF Island, a beautiful white sand island, its clear blue sea and the land still covered by green plants.

Visitors can climb the hill to enjoy ing a beautiful scenery of the island. Besides that, there is an ancient painting of palms on acliff wall in this island. PEF also a favorite routes for kayaking. It can be reached in 45 minutes from Waisai by boat consist of two 40 HP engine and needs 15 minutes to reach PEF from this island that has a diving resort.

Yeben Island
The island lies between Pef islands and a group of Fam islands, famous with its beautiful land scape and clear sea water. Snorkeling is ideal in this island. It can be reached in 45 minutes from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Wayag
A cluster of coral lime stone islands wide spread over the clear seawater. Wayag is an icon of Raja Ampat. The scenery is verys pectacular, especially ona good weather when the sunshines the sea. The tourists will get amazing landscape after Climbing the hill for 20-30 minutes. Wayag is located quite far away so it takes 3 hours from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Mayalibit Bay (Teluk Mayalibit)
Mayalibit Bay is quite unique, it is a fairly large bay and almost split the Waigeo Island into two parts. Many attraction scan be seen. Tribal life and unique in digenous cultures, a traditional fishing methods, a cave place to store human skull, mountain, and frame air craft that could be used as a dive site.

Other tourist attraction found in Mayalibit bay are woven hand crafts (snat/mats, hats and the noken/bag) ands culpture hand craft (sculptures of humans and animals). Also famous with Yako dance, a kind of war dance performed by men with machetes (cracked) and a small shield/deterrent (milled) as dance accessories, it can be reached in 3 hours from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Batanta Island and surroundings
Batanta is the smallest island of the four major islands in Raja Ampat. Its Middle area is mountainous to 1,000 meter swhile the northern coast full of small bays. This island is a home oftwo species endemic bird of Raja Ampat, they are Cendrawasih Merah (Paradisea Rubra) and Cendrawasi Botak (Cicinnurus Respublica). Some interesting places on this island are:

Dayan Island
Small island with a beautiful scenery and its good sea water for snorkeling also a place to see walnuts crabs. it can be reached within 1 hours from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Wailebet
Located in the southern island of Batanta, here is the place to do bird swatching of Cendrawasih Botak (Cicinnurus Respublica). It takes 1 hour from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

Arefi
Arefi island lies in the northern of Batanta, has a history site of Fort Yenbekaki, located not far from the village of Arefi as a long large stone look like for tress, abeautiful water falls also found, reached by walking on food through the jungle for about 30 minutes. It takes 1 hour from Waisai by boat consists of two 40 HP engine.

 

Raja Ampat Dive Tags and Conservation Fees

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The Entrance Fee Raja Empat
The Raja Ampat Regency Government is proud to announce the introduction of a tourism entrance fee system to help support the conservation and community projects within Raja Ampat tourism. To all tourists that entering Raja Ampat are required to purchase an entrance tag.

The entrance fee for foreign visitors is Rp 500,000/person/calender year (approximately US$55) for which they will receive a waterproof plastic entrance tag featuring a photo from Raja Ampat.

For all Indonesian visitors from outside Raja Ampat are required to pay Rp 250,000 and will receive an entry card. The annual tags and cards will be valid from January 1st until January 31st of the following year.

This tag system has been adapted from the very successful Bonaire and Bunaken Marine Park systems. The visitors are required to carry their tags or cards at all times, these tags can be easily fixed to guests’ snorkeling or diving gear or to their dive bag. The entrance fee system will be enforced through spot checks conducted by official patrols. The money collected is managed by a multi-stake-holder management team (Tim Pengelola) and it is divided between tourism development, conservation, and community health projects.

For the visitor who want to purchase the entrance tag can directly go to the dive operator on diving spot, or go to the Raja Ampat entrance fee management team which has established a booth at the Sorong Airport during the arriving guests and purchase the tags.

At this time, payment must be in rupiah, though they will endeavor to expand this to at least US$ and Euro in the future. In this case, the guest buys the tag and the receipts are filled in with the following information: guest name, country of origin, tag number, passport number, and email address (optional if the guest would like to receive further information about Raja Ampat conservation efforts). To ensure accountability the guest receives their copy of the 2 receipts, the accompanying dive operator representative receives their copy, and the management team’s copy is directly entered into the guest database.

Conserving Raja Ampat
The Raja Ampat Archipelago is known as the “crown jewel” in the Papuan “Bird’s Head Seascape” (named for the distinctive shape of the northwestern section of the island of New Guinea), an area with unparalleled marine biodiversity.

As of September 2008, current species tallies for the Bird’s Head include over 1356 species of coral reef fish (including 1223 in Raja Ampat alone and at least 25 endemics known only from this region), 600 species of hard coral (75% of the world’s total and over ten times the number of coral species found in the entire Caribbean), and 57 species of mantis shrimp (including 8 endemic species known only from the Bird’s Head). Other important features of the Bird’s Head include karst forests full of rare orchids, birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, regionally-important green and hawksbill turtle rookeries, whale and dolphin aggregations, and the world’s largest Pacific Leatherback Turtle nesting beaches in the Jamursbamedi-Warmon coast of the Northern Bird’s Head.

As more is discovered about Raja Ampat, its global significance continues to grow. There is now clear evidence that the coral around Raja Ampat may be naturally more resilient to fluctuations in temperatures, and thus more likely to withstand the impacts of global climate change. Powerful ocean currents carry larvae from Raja Ampat to reefs in other parts of Indonesia and the Pacific, making Raja Ampat the heart of the “supply chain” of species. This transport may help to replenish other reefs which have been damaged by disease, bleaching, overfishing, and other detrimental activities.

Without question, Raja Ampat and the broader Bird’s Head Seascape rank as global priorities for marine conservation!

Until fairly recently, Raja Ampat’s isolation and low human population have played a large part in keeping its reefs healthy and thriving. However, the region’s rich coastal and marine resources have made it a target for economic development ranging from fisheries and marine tourism, to more destructive activities such as oil and gas exploration, mining and logging. And thus the paradox of Raja Ampat – world unique, globally outstanding, literally bursting at the seams with biodiversity – yet highly threatened.

Local governments and stakeholders require strong support in developing effective, sustainable coastal and marine resource management that conserves biodiversity while benefiting local communities. To date, that support is coming from a highly dedicated team of over 200 international and local conservation NGO staff focused on improving the management of Raja Ampat. Working in concert with the local and national government and other local institutions and stakeholders, two international conservation NGOs, Conservation International (CI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as well as the Indonesian government’s Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Program (COREMAP) are facilitating the management of the 7 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) recently declared in Raja Ampat. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and local NGO, Papuan Sea Turtle Foundation, play a key role in sea turtle conservation in the archipelago. In addition, the three international NGOs—CI, TNC and WWF—have an ambitious partnership throughout the Bird’s Head Seascape.

Together, these organizations have focused on a comprehensive three-pronged approach to conservation in Raja Ampat.

The first initiative has centered on the scientific characterization of Raja Ampat, including its biodiversity and the important large-scale ecological and oceanographic processes that influence this diversity. Besides generating world record species lists and describing dozens of new and endemic species, this initiative has also succeeded in revealing patterns of genetic and oceanographic “connectivity” that are critical to understand in order to develop plans to manage the region’s marine resources in a sustainable manner.

The second set of strategic conservation activities, conducted simultaneously with the scientific characterization of Raja Ampat, has focused on creating an “enabling environment” for effective conservation and collaborative management of Raja Ampat’s rich marine resources. Over the past 3 years, the various conservation teams have worked intensively with the local government and citizens in the 90 remote villages of Raja Ampat to both better understand their development aspirations and align them with a sustainable vision for the area while also dramatically increasing local understanding and appreciation of Raja Ampat’s biodiversity, the threats to it, and the need for local leadership in effectively managing it. So far, the response of local traditional leaders and village chiefs has been overwhelmingly positive. To learn more about some of these outreach and education programs click here.

The final strategic initiative (based upon the scientific understanding and strong local community support generated by the first two strategies) has been to facilitate the establishment of an ecologically-connected network of marine protected areas (MPAs) across Raja Ampat. In May 2007, the Raja Ampat government declared a network of seven MPAs that together covers nearly 900,000 hectares and approximately 45% of Raja Ampat’s coral reefs and mangroves. Effectively implemented, these MPAs should ensure the long term health and sustainability of Raja Ampat’s marine ecosystems. One outstanding achievement has been the work of the local NGO, Papua Sea Turtle Foundation, which has run a highly successful turtle nest program in the major rookery of Sayang-Piai in the Kawe MPA, effectively eliminating turtle poaching and protecting over 2000 green turtle nests in the past 2 years.

These three initiatives have made impressive progress over the past 5 years, but there is still much work to be done. Raja Ampat’s MPA network needs to be “operationalized” and the restrictions on destructive and unsustainable fishing practices strictly enforced. Marine tourism development must be carefully managed to provide optimal benefits for local communities while minimizing its “footprint” in the area. Perhaps most importantly, we face a continuous uphill battle to impress upon policy-makers and community leaders the need to wisely conserve and manage this area, as the seemingly inexhaustible global demand for commodities ranging from fish to minerals to timber products continues to create strong short-term financial incentives to mine all of these resources from Raja Ampat.

Hopefully, with the continued dedication of conservation NGOs, the local and national government, and local stakeholders, and the firm support of the marine tourism sector, the reefs of Raja Ampat will continue to thrive.

MARINE PARK ENTRY:
As of February 1, 2015 a new Raja Ampat Marine Park entry permit tag structure is in place.

The permit fee for international visitors will be 1,000,000 Indonesian Rupiah (~USD 100.00)

The permit fee for Indonesian citizens will be IDR 500,000

The permit will be valid for 12 months from date of purchase.

Raja Ampat Marine Park entry permit fees are directed to the operational costs of Raja Ampat’s five Marine Protected Areas (patrols, administration etc) and to community conservation and development programs.

Collection of the funds is the responsibility of a new organisation created to ensure the transparent disbursement of funds: The UPTD BLUD, an autonomous unit within the Dinas Kelautan dan Perikanan (the local government Department of Oceans and Fisheries).

The reason for the changes are twofold:
1) The organisation previously responsible for collection of the Marine Park fee was the Dinas Pariwisata – the local government Department of Tourism. The corporate structure of the Dinas Pariwisata provided no framework by which it could legally transfer funds collected to the intended recipients. The new UPTD, being incorporated as a BLUD entity, does.

2) The fees have been doubled in order to provide an income stream that will account for a larger percentage of the true Marine Protected Area operational costs and community development programs. Those costs are currently being funded by foreign donors – a situation which obviously isn’t sustainable in the long term.

The Raja Ampat Marine Park Entry Permit tag (or PIN) has been renamed the Tariff to Support Environmental Services in Raja Ampat and must be paid by every visitor to Raja Ampat.

Where does the Raja Ampat entry fee money go?
The information below explains the changes, why the Tariff to Support Environmental Services in Raja Ampat is charged and shows how the funds collected are used. Click the images to see larger versions.

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Where to buy Raja Ampat Marine Park entry permit tags
There are three authorised distributors of Raja Ampat Marine Park permit tags. Some Raja Ampat resorts will pre-purchase them on behalf of guests. Homestays do not offer this service as yet. Be wary of anybody else claiming to be able to sell you one.

At the Raja Ampat Tourism Information Center in Sorong

Permits must be paid for by bank transfer prior to pickup, or else in cash in Indonesian Rupiah at Sorong.

Contact the Tourism Information Center
Manager: Amy Zarta
Tel: +62951328358
Fax: +62951326576
Mobile: +628114852033
email: info@diverajaampat.org

Contact the JE Meridien Hotel
Tel: +62951327999
Fax: +62951329121
email: jemeridien.sorong@yahoo.com

At the Waisai Port Office Ticket Booth
If you’re pushed for time to make the ferry in Sorong, you can also purchase permit tags at the Waisai Tourist Information Centre on Waigeo. The Information Centre is in the building on the left at the foot of the jetty at the ferry port in Waisai. In the photo below, the office entrance is at the left of the building.

The office is open between 8am and 4pm Monday to Thursday and between 8am and 3 pm on Fridays. It’s closed on Saturdays and Sundays except for a half hour or so when ferries arrive, so you should always be able to get an entry permit tag there when arriving by ferry.

You may be approached on arrival by men checking to see if you already have a permit. They’ll guide you to the office if not. Don’t pay anywhere except at the office counter.

At the UPTD KKLD Office in Waisai
The UPTD Office address is Jalan Yos Sudarso, Siwindores, Waisai. Any ojek (motorbike taxi) or vehicle driver should be able to take you there from the harbour.

The office phone number is +629513170089