Waigeo Island, West Papua

Waigeo-Island 4

By far the largest island in the Raja Ampat group, Waigeo is home to the region’s capital Waisai as well as a wider range of attractions than any other island. Thankfully, it is also the easiest island to reach by public transport, though exploring its full diversity is still challenging. For those seeking an ultimate adventures it offers diving, rock islands, scenic bays walled in by towering cliffs, a jungle interior offering good bird-watching, all Raja Ampat. All in all, it’s the perfect place to start a tour of the islands for independent travelers.

Waigeo is an island in West Papua province of eastern Indonesia. The island is also known as Amberi, or Waigiu. It is the largest of the four main islands in the Raja Ampat Islands archipelago, between Halmahera and about 65 km to the northwest coast of New Guinea. The other three islands are Salawati, Batanta and Misool.

Its area is 3,155 km², the highest elevation is almost 1000 m. From west to east the island measures approximately 110 km, north-south circa 50 km. The town of Wasai in the west of the island is the capital of the Raja Ampat regency. Since 1997, the island has been the site of a substantial pearl farming operation owned by the Australian company Atlas Pacific.

Waigeo-Island

Waisai

The capital of Raja Ampat Regency, Waisai is a scruffy little town with a definite frontier feel to it. This is not surprising considering that it was established just a couple of years ago! While initial impressions of it may not be charming, Waisai does offer to travelers the widest range of accommodation options in Raja Ampat, at the lowest prices anywhere in the islands, plus a good range of budget places to eat. It’s also a good spot to try and arrange a boat charter for touring other islands, and is home to the very friendly regional tourism office.

Saonek

The small island of Saonek, just south of Waiwo is home to what used to be the main town of the South Waigeo region before Waisai was established. Nowadays it is very quiet, but retains something of a colonial atmosphere with its old houses. There’s also good snorkeling off its wharf.

 Waigeo-Island 2

Waterfalls

About an hour east of Waisai by ojek, you will find 2 waterfalls in a small patch of protected forest. The further one is visible from the roadside, but the more interesting, multi-tiered one a few kms before takes some local knowledge to find. The pools here can offer a refreshing change from swimming in the sea! They are likely to be more impressive after heavy rains – during a long period of dry, sunny weather, they will be reduced to a trickle, as on this photo.

Mayalibit Bay

This incredibly long, narrow bay with its towering cliffs reminds one more of Norwegian fjords than of most other bays in Raja Ampat! Though it is the bay most easily reached from Waisai, to which it is connected by road, it is rarely visited by cruises which prefer to go westwards. Of course exploring the bay, with its islets, cliff burial sites and several villages will require a charter, as usual.

Kabui Bay

This large bay in southwestern Waigeo is the closest place to Waisai where one can see those amazingly shaped rock islands Raja Ampat is famous for. They are scattered right around the bay, and come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes – the diversity here is only rivalled by the rock islets off Misool. Kayakers could spend days exploring this bay, while for daytrippers, it is probably the most rewarding outing from Waisai or Waiwo.

Aljui Bay

Cruises headed for Wayag often spend a night in this long bay in the west of Waigeo. Like Mayalibit Bay, it is quite fjord-like, with towering cliffs on its side. It also has a cliff burial site, and deeper inside the bay a is a huge pearl farm that can be visited.

Sauwandarek Tourism Village

Sauwandarek Tourism Village is located in the western part of Waisai, the capital city of Raja Ampat district, West Papua province. This village is part of Meos Mansar district. Homes in this tourism village with 46 families or about 179 populations have original leaf roofs.

In this village, women, particularly mothers, produce hats and bags made of sea pandan leaf. This village is famous for its beautiful corals. In addition, there is a salty lake locally called Telaga Yenauwyau, which is located behind the village.

Waigeo-Island 3

Getting There 

To go to Sauwandarek Tourism Village, in Meos Mansar, Raja Ampat district, West Papua, you have to take air and land transportations. It is easier for you to take a flight to Sorong first. It is a gateway to Raja Ampat area. There are several flights that can take you to Sorong e.g., Merpati Air, Express Air, and Lion Air.  For sea transportation, ships transiting in Port Sorong are Dorolonda, Labobar, Gunung Dempo, Sinabung, and Tatamailau.

From Sorong, you can take a motorboat from Sorong Fishery Port to Waisai, the capital city of Raja Ampat district. From Waisai, you can continue your journey by using a rented longboat to Sauwandarek. There are two alternative ships from Sorong to Waisai. First, using speed boat for about two hours, or second, using local government’s ship for four hours journey. After that, your journey by longboat from Waisai to Sauwandarek will take about four hours.

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