Accommodation and Food in Raja Ampat – What to Expect
While incredible, the key to getting the most out of your time in Raja Ampat is to have realistic expectations. Here’s the low down on accommodation and food.
Welcome to Raja Ampat. Still off the beaten path of most tourists. The diving is impeccable, with some of, if not the highest marine diversity in the world. It’s remote. It’s pristine. It’s very untouched. However, with all that – comes simple and rustic accommodations.
Hotels and hostels are not the norm here. There are a couple of hotels and one hostel in Waisai. Homestays are the most common, albeit the only choice, throughout the islands. These are owned and run by locals, and as such, you are helping the local economy by staying there.
Get your camera ready! These homestays are often wooden bungalows over the water, or right on the beach. Snorkel right off your balcony, or stay dry and admire the marine life right from the balcony. We have seen walking sharks, baby black tips, rays, and dolphins – just to name a few.
Homestay rooms are basic. Sometimes just a mattress on the floor. They do come with sheets, pillows, a blanket, and a mosquito net. Most also provide a towel.
Bathrooms are even more simple in these local homestays. Most do have flush toilets (although like all of Indonesia, do not flush the toilet paper or any other non-organic products). Showers are often a giant bucket of water with a smaller bucket to use to pour over yourself. Sometimes you will find a western type shower. Water is cool-cold.
You can arrange these homestays yourself – or better yet – sign up for one of our dive safaris to experience a variety of them, without having to plan them yourself. Scuba dive the most awesome sites of Raja Ampat by day, end in a handpicked homestay at night.
Another option here at Scuba Republic is what we call beach bungalows. Two dormitory-style, three-bed share rooms. Three rooms with a double bed. Three rooms with a double and single bed set up. Each comes with an en-suite bathroom. We are also one of the rare places here that have hot water and air conditioning (plus a fan).
Other perks to our resort include being steps away from the ocean. In fact every room you can hear the waves as you fall asleep. We have an awesome jetty to watch the sunset from, as well as a lounging deck area with bean bags and a built-in hammock. You also won’t need shoes, as everything is sand.
The other very popular accommodation option here in Raja Ampat. You guessed it. Liveaboards! Here you are actually living on a dive boat. Dive, Breakfast, Dive, Lunch, Dive, Dinner, Sleep, repeat! Plus a nap or two in there somewhere if you choose. Many boats do have a few secret land-based stops, to see the islands and epic viewpoints of the area.
These boats range from budget to luxury. But we’ll let you in on a secret – they all visit the same amazing dive sites. We have two different liveaboard options.
Jaya is our pirate ship like phinisi. She accommodates up to 14 guests in various twin and triple-share rooms. You can find her in Raja Ampat November-April. She has one itinerary that goes to the best spots in the Dampier Strait over 7 days.
Epica is our year-round more affordable liveaboard. She accommodates 12 guests in twin bunk bed style rooms. With various 7-10 day itineraries ranging from North to Wayag, South to Misool, and everything in between, she offers something for everyone.
Food in Raja Ampat
Typical Indonesian food consists of white rice, fish (sometimes chicken), and a tofu/tempe option. Just about everything comes fried, although sometimes grilled. And almost everything has some level of spice to it. Veggies consist of carrots, green beans and a leafy green. Fruits are often limited to bananas and watermelon. But with an option in each category, there is typically something for everyone.
Breakfast ranges from eggs and white bread to fried bananas, noodles or rice. This varies depending on where you stay. There is no shortage of Indonesian coffee, however, it’s an acquired taste. The standard style here does not dissolve, so stir minimally and don’t take the last few sips! Some places will have Nescafe though as another option, that does in fact dissolve. Tea is common, as is sugar. Creamer is the powdered kind – and while we have it here at Scuba Republic, it’s not as common in the island homestays.
Allergy warning: some allergens like peanuts are avoidable here. Others like gluten could be more challenging, as it’s not as understood well here. Although white rice is gluten free, so at least there is that. When in doubt or if you have an allergy – please let your accommodation know ahead of time and most will do their best to accommodate. However – options here are limited. So it’s a good thing to discuss before.
Dairy is pretty much non-existent. Although there are some pretty awesome cookies to be had onboard our dive boats. Sodas consist of Coke and Sprite.
Alcohol is a rare commodity. Beer/Bintang is available in some, but not all places. You can find some local hard alcohol in Sorong or Waisai, but there is not really a bar or much of a social scene there. People come for nature, and to get away from it all. Wine is also not something you can find. So feel free to bring us some, lol.
All in all, rustic homestays and limited food options are a small sacrifice to pay for the world-class diving you’ll get here in Indonesia. In fact, you’ll be too blissed out from it to care. You can eat whatever you want at home. But can you see mantas, sharks, healthy coral, schools and school of fish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs… the list goes on and on in the most biologically diverse place!
Leave the luxuries at home, and experience a simpler, easier way of life. Come with an open mind. Leave with an experience you’ll never forget.
Written by Nicole Smelson
Pictures by Wander Deeper and Nicole Smelson