Sorong, West Papua

Sorong is the city of West Papua, well known as the gateway to Raja Ampat islands that are famous for diving in Indonesia. Therefore this place serves as a port for travelers to get to the remote West Papua and then connect onwards by ferry or boat to Raja Ampat.

The town Sorong is located at the ‘beak’ of the Papua’s bird’s head peninsula, where you would take as a departure point to Raja Ampat. It serves as an important port for West Papua in Indonesia.

The word Sorong meant “deep and turbulent sea” in the local Soreri language. Sorong is well surrounded by mountains, hills and protected forests all around.

Map of Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

Map of Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

Where is it

At the tip of the beak of West Papua bird’s head peninsula.

Why go

Gateway to Raja Ampat, one of the best diving sites in Indonesia.

Fish Market at Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

Fish Market at Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

When is the best time to go

As most travelers come to Sorong to go to Raja Ampat, the best time to come here is during the good weather for diving which is the dry season of September to June.

What to see

People of Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

People of Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

People of Sorong, West Papua – one of the nearby beaches that are worthy for some chilling and sunbathing

View from Stone Hill – climb the Stone Hill nearby for a panoramic view of Sorong city, beaches and sunsets from the top. This hill dotted with Dutch colonial houses can see as far as the Crocodile Island.

Tugu Arfak – a war memorial to the Japanese. The complex has an obelisk, a bronze Shinto deity and memorial plaques.

What to do

Watch birds of paradise – the famous endemic birds of the Papua can be seen by taking a boat to Batanta Island (about 3-4 hours). You may also stay overnight at Waigeo or Sawinggrai in a tent or local huts while catching a glimpse of these birds.

What and where to eat

Sample some of the local unique West Papua cuisine, which is diverse yet somewhat similar to other parts of Indonesia. Go for the food at stalls around Sorong and eat food like Bakso, Pangsit Solo and Es Teler.

Werur Beach, Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

Werur Beach, Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia

Where to stay

In Sorong you will find some good value and high quality hotels, like the popular Swiss-belhotel Sorong * to some sparse choices of budget places. If you head out to Raja Ampat quickly then it will be better to stay out there where you can choose from many dive resorts of homestays.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Sorong *

How to get there

Fly into international airports in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya or Bali (Denpasar) and then connect by domestic flight to Sorong in West Papua. Sorong Airport is also known as Domine Edward Osok Airport. Some of the Indonesian airlines that fly to Sorong, West Papua are Garuda Indonesia, Merpati, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Air and Batavia air while international Airlines is Silk Air.

Sorong Airport, West Papua, Indonesia

Sorong Airport

How to get around

This town though seem remote is actually one of the fastest growing cities in Indonesia. You can get around in taxi, chartered van and also the usual becak for shorter distance. Angkot are also available just like everywhere else in Indonesia.

Where to go nearby

Pulau Raja Ampat (islands) of course, for most is diving but there are also many things to see and do in Raja Ampat. It is part of the world’s Coral Triangle which is known for housing more than 3000 species of fish and other extraordinary habitats that breeds the biodiversity of its marine life.

Ferry boat from Sorong to Raja Ampat, Papua

Ferry boat from Sorong to Raja Ampat, Papua

Travel Tips

Do not need to stay here for long as there are not much things to do in Sorong, so try to arrange to escape to Raja Ampat islands as soon possible!

Photo credits from top: Rachel, Behan, Doris Muggler, Jacques Beaulieu, Jacques Beaulieu, Jacques Beaulieu and Lakshmi Sawitri

Related Articles:
Diving Raja Ampat
Papua Travel Guide

Is it possible to hike to the site of the Gremlin Special crash site?

Is it possible to hike to the site of the Gremlin Special crash site?
– Brian Donovan

If you can obtain a Surat Jalan travel pass to the interior (from a police station near the Jayapura Airport), you could fly to Wamena. From there, you would have to connect to someone from that part of the valley who knows where to climb. I would recommend Tomas Wandik, who would do so for a fair price. Folks at the Baliem Valley Hotel should know how to get in touch with Tomas, I think (though I can’t guarantee it).
Mitchell Zuckoff

Good luck if you are looking to visit!

Author: Pearl

Living in Jakarta for more than 20 years now, she still have not manage to cover the tip of Indonesia’s diverse destinations, people and even food! Pearl loves shopping as much as enjoying luxury but she knows all these have to be done sensibly and on a budget. Therefore you may find the best scoop and offers in Jakarta and beyond with her.

Diving Raja Ampat, Papua

Voted as one of the best diving spots in the world, Pulau Raja Ampat / Raja Ampat islands are definitely the next travel destination for not only divers but also nature lovers and travelers alike.

The name itself meant four kings and it is well known for its riches in wild marine life, pristine reefs and corals. It consists of 1500 unique small islands.

Pulau Raja Ampat Islands, Papua Indonesia

Pulau Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia. Photo by Elias Levy

Where is it

Raja Ampat islands are located in the northwest tip of Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya) in Indonesia.

Map of Pulau Raja Ampat Islands, Papua Indonesia

Map of Pulau Raja Ampat Islands

Why go

Diving Pulau Raja Ampat Islands, Papua Indonesia

Diving Pulau Raja Ampat Islands, Papua Indonesia. Photo by Lakshmi Sawitri

Diver’s paradise as Raja Ampat has a vast marine life diversity that would wow even the most seasoned diver. It is part of the world’s Coral Triangle which is known for housing more than 3000 species of fish and other extraordinary habitats that breeds the biodiversity of its marine life. Many scientists still travel there today to discover new species in the ocean. You may well put this place into your list of diving trips!

Also, Raja Ampat is a remote place almost left untouched by development and only touched by explorers that are nature lovers and independent travellers that care and travel responsibly. Here you can also meet with the local Papuan people and directly contribute to their living and get to immerse in their culture.

When is the best time to go

Indonesia being a tropical climate of only two seasons, dry and wet, it is best to visit during the dry season to maximize your marine visibility. You may go around late September until early June, in between June to September will be the monsoon season where there will be a lot of rain especially in the afternoon.l

What to do

Fish and Corals, Dive Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Fish and Corals, Dive Raja Ampat. Photo by Lakshmi Sawitri

Dive, dive and dive!
You trip to Raja Ampat will never be complete without diving here as you have more than 30 dive sites to choose from where you can enjoy thr diverse and amazing marine lives. You may get dive in places filled with coral gardens or walls to mangroves and wreck diving. Some of the famous dive sites in Raja Ampat are Cape Kri, Sardines, Manta Sandy and Mios Kon

-> Check out Raja Ampat liveaboard diving trips *

Snorkel at many of the sites above if diving is not your thing, you’ll be pleasantly delighted that there are many marine lives as well in the shallow area.

Explore the islands by boats or visit the Red Bird of Paradise or the bat caves in Tomolol.

Trek around the island to discover waterfalls.

What to see

Tour around Papua villages to see Asmat artisan’s wood sculptures or their fishing techniques or traditional performance of bamboo flute.

Watch the famous Sea Ghost phenomenon at East Waigeo where at the end of the year where a light would appear from the ocean and wander around the surface for about 15 minutes and then disappears.

Karst rocks at Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Karst rocks at Raja Ampat. Photo by Lakshmi Sawitri

Where to stay

There are some dive resorts and eco resorts in Raja Ampat* dotted around for you to choose from or you may go different and choose the few homestays available in villages. One popular homestays kind of resort here is the creatively named Alter Native Stay *. The other on the more budget side is the TeraAilan Heritage Resort * and .

-> Find your place to stay at Raja Ampat on Booking.com *

What and where to eat

If you did not get a diving package or other packages there that are most likely to cover your food, you may go around and eat traditional local food. Try the special fish soup call Sup Ikan Kuning (yellow fish soup) that are made with local spices.

How to get there

Fly into international airports in Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya or Bali (Denpasar) and then connect by domestic flight to Sorong, Raja Ampat. Some of the Indonesian airlines that fly to Sorong, Papua are Garuda Indonesia, Merpati, Sriwijaya Air, Lion Air and Batavia air while international Airlines is Silk Air.

Corals at Dive Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Corals at Dive Raja Ampat. Photo by Lakshmi Sawitri

From Sorong to Raja Ampat, you may take either the Speed Boat, which takes about 1 hour at cost 2 million Rp or a Long Boat which takes 2-3 hours at cost 1.2mil RP.

How to get around

You can mostly travel around by boat here, like from Sorong to Wasai, on longboats, speedboats, liveaboard or dive boats. For land travel on the islands, you may normally cover by walking or hop one of the ubiquitous ojek (motorcycle taxi). Going on a liveaboard diving boat is also very popular here as it is an amazing way to explore the remote islands.

Liveaboard diving boat at Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Liveaboard diving boat at Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Lakshmi Sawitri

Where to go nearby

Get back to Sorong and then proceed to discover the rest of Papua. You may fly to Jayapura and then discover Baliem Valley and Lorentz National Park.

Since Raja Ampat is in the tip of Papua of Indonesia, it is near to the Maluku Islands, you may arrange to head there for further dive trips and exploration.

Travel Tips

Before able to go to dive spots, you would need to get a permit from the local Papua police station. Bring 3 copies of your passport page with Indonesian Visa.

Recommended tours *:
Raja Ampat Liveaboard diving

Related posts:
Diving Bunaken Island
Diving Togian Islands
Top 10 Best Diving Sites in Indonesia
Sorong Travel Guide

Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya)

Lorentz National Park, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Indonesia. It is a protected area but open to travelers to visit. It has the tallest island peak in the world which is the Mount Carstensz Pyramid (Gunung Puncak Jaya), at 4884 metres tall on the Jayawijaya range, and it is surrounded by beautiful glaciers.

Where is it

It is located in the southwestern and central Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya) of Indonesia.

Map of Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia

Map of Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia

Why go

Birds of Paradise in Lorentz National Park, Papua, Indonesia

Birds of Paradise in Lorentz National Park, Papua, Indonesia

Lorentz National Park is the home to more than 630 species of birds and 123 species of mammals. 70% of bird species in Papua can be found in this park! Few of these are the famous birds of paradise, tree kangaroos and pig nose turtles. It also stands as a testimonial to earth’s history, geological transformations and features. If you are an animal and nature enthusiast, this is the place to go.

Also it has many indigenous tribes still living here including the Asmat (Nakai), Dani, Amungme (Damal), Sempan, Komoro and Nduga. These tribes go back to thousand of years in existence and still follow a semi-nomadic lifestyle with basic agriculture. They can be found in lowland rivers and swam and it would certainly be a wonder to meet them.

When is the best time to go

Best time to visit Lorentz National Park is between August to December.

What to see

Bird watching at Lake Habbema at the plateau of Habema Valley.

Visit the Asmat villages where you can meet the indigenous tribe of Agats that are famous for their wood carvings.

What to do

Climb the Carstensz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya), one of the world’s seven ultimate summits. The climb will start from the basecamp in Tembagapura Freeport. Please note that this is a highly technical and tough mountain to scale, so please do prepare yourself and get the right guide to do it.

Carstenz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) at Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia

Carstenz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) at Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia


Where to stay

There are several cities near Lorentz National Park that you can stay – Timika, Wamena, Fak-Fak and Merauke *.

How to get there

Flights
Best way to get to Lorentz National park is by flying into Wamena, Biak, Jayapura or Timika and then make your way to the park. Wamena is the best choice as you may get your permit to enter at the Forestry Conservation Office (or you may get it done by a local travel agent). You may fly to Wamena via Jayapura with Trigana Air.

Boat/Ship
Though not really a preferred method, you may also take the Pelni ship to Timika, Agats, Fak fak or Merauke.

Where to go nearby

Baliem Valley – Find cultures (mummy and tradings) and fashion (traditional penis gourd attire) unique to the Dani people, who are famous for their tough and warm spirit. Also marvel at the mountain views, rivers, and vast green fields.

Travel Tips

Always wait to be invited into the home of the indigenous tribes before you consider yourself welcomed as a guest.

Tribe People of Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia

Tribe People of Lorentz National Park, Papua (Irian Jaya) Indonesia

Photo credits from top: Rachel, Luc Viator, Luc Viator and DMahendra

Related articles:
Diving Raja Ampat
Baliem Valley, Papua
Jayapura, Papua