Express Air offers the most convenient flights to Sorong, the gateway to the Raja Ampat Islands.
Why Raja Ampat?
The Raja Ampat Islands (in West Papua province) are now considered one of the highlights of Indonesia and the next big thing in Indonesian marine tourism circles. Part of the “coral triangle”, they offer amazing diving and snorkelling, as well as secluded beaches and the island’s unique rock formations.
The latest Lonely Planet guide to Indonesia describes Raja Ampat as having:
some of the best – if not the best – diving in Indonesia
It’s like diving in a tropical aquarium!
Its relatively distant and isolated location – see the maps above – is a double-edged sword. The spectacular natural beauty is protected from overexploitation and the crowds of more well-known destinations e.g. Pulau Bunaken (near Manado), but it also means relatively few people are able to enjoy it.
Currently, many flights to the nearest airport – Jefman Airport in Sorong – are overnight. This can potentially leave passengers feeling exhausted and sick; not the best thing before a boat ride.
But now there is an exception:
Unlike their competitors, Express Air flies daily to Sorong (not nightly, not 3 or 4 days/week) from Jakarta, Makassar, Manado, Ambon and Jayapura.
For your convenience, here is the latest schedule (not available on the Express Air website, which was last updated in 2008):
*Local time in Sorong is two hours ahead of Jakarta, one hour ahead of Makassar and Manado.
UPDATE 2013: The Express Air schedule for flights between Jakarta/Makassar and Sorong has changed. You can get the latest schedule for these routes here.
Now flying to Makassar
Now flying to Manado
Obviously, Jakarta receives the most international flights, but there are other choices. Makassar (a.k.a Ujung Pandang) receives daily Air Asia flights from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and the new Garuda flight from Singapore. International visitors can also fly from Singapore direct 4 days/week to Manado on Silk Air. Silk Air is Singapore Airlines’ regional/partner airline, so (like all Silk Air flights) also offers a Singapore Airlines codeshare and earns KrisFlyer points.
3. Baggage Allowances
Express Air flights from/to Jakarta and Makassar use Boeing 737 aircraft (right), and have a 20kg baggage allowance. However, flights to/from Manado use smaller Dornier 328 planes, and have a 10kg baggage allowance. If you are bringing your own diving gear, it would be better to fly from Jakarta or Makassar.
4. Travel Permit (Surat Jalan)
Officially, all foreign visitors to non-metropolitan areas in West Papua province need to obtain a travel permit (in Indonesian, “surat jalan”) when they arrive from the local police station. In Sorong, the nearest one is called Polresta Sorong and is 1km west of the airport. You need to bring:
There is no fee. After you get the travel permit – usually about one hour later – get some photocopies of it made, enough to give one copy to each place/hotel you will visit.
Would you like to visit Raja Ampat? If you’re interested, please fill in an enquiry form.
Or if you have a question, please ask below.
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