surprising wasai, raja ampat

Last Updated on October 19, 2023

Blue River, popular day trip from Wasai (photo provided by Husna)

Wasai (pronounced Way-say) is the largest settlement in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.  We stayed in Wasai for two nights in early July 2023.  We thought it would just be just our jump off point for our Raja Ampat island homestay.  We were surprised that Wasai has so much more to offer than just a stopover point for exploring Raja Ampat.  We would have stayed longer than two nights had we known that there was more to do in Wasai.  

So what is there to do in Wasai?  Wayag and Piaynemo trips can be arranged from Wasai.  Wayag is a group of small islands that serves as the icon of Raja Ampat.  Paynemo is a mini Wayag.  There is also Kabui Bay to go to on days when the sea is rough to go to either Wayag or Paynemo.  There are also diving and snorkeling sites less than an hour away. Island hopping trips are also available from Wasai.  

For those who just want to stay inland, the Blue River is a must.  There is also Saporken Village to explore.  Birds of paradise watching is another activity worth pursuing as these birds can only be found in the Papua archipelago.  Wasai also hosts the four day Marine Festival which is a celebration of the local culture. There are also shops and a small art gallery in town.  Finally, it is always fun to just ride around in a scooter in this small, uncongested town.

Here, we describe each of these activities to help you plan your Wasai explorations. Some of the information written here was from our personal experience and others were from a Raja Ampat tourist information officer that we interviewed while in Wasai.

wayag – raja ampat’s icon

The cone shaped hills of Raja Ampat

If you type Raja Ampat on Google, chances are the image that comes back is that of Wayag.  Wayag is a group of small cone shaped islands that is more than worthy of being an Instagram cover photo.  Wayag is in the northern section of Raja Ampat and more than a four hour (one way) boat ride from  Wasai.

Most visitors that go to Wayag have to stay in homestays on islands that are closer to Wayag.  However, homestays are basic accommodations where there is no air conditioning, no Internet or cell service, maybe a communal bathroom and definitely have to sleep inside a mosquito net.  

For those that prefer the amenities of modern accommodations as opposed to basic homestays, an excursion to Wayag from Wasai can be arranged by contacting the Raja Ampat Tourist information Center (ask for Husna).

The excursion cost depends on the number of people.  There are different boats for different size groups.  The minimum group size is six while the maximum is around 30. It is a 12 hour excursion, leaving at 6 AM and returning at 6PM.  There are no other stops along the way on this excursion. If you do decide to go to Wayag, be prepared to climb up the steep side of the limestone hill by hanging on to ropes and trees. Wear sturdy shoes as you will be stepping on jagged limestone surface.

piaynemo – miniature wayag

Piaynemo from the viewing platform

Paynemo is closer to Wasai than Wayag.  Paynemo is a smaller version of Wayag.  It is still stunning though.  It is a good destination for those that do not have the budget to go to Wayag.

The cost of the excursion to Paynemo is much cheaper than Wayag, somewhere in the neighborhood of half the price.  Being closer, excursions arranged by the Tourist Information have other stops besides Paynemo.  One of the stops is Star Lagoon which is a body of water that looks like a star formed by the surrounding islands that frame it.  Another stop is Arborek or Sawandarek islands for snorkeling and fish feeding.  And if you time your visit to Wasai right, the excursion can stop at Pasir Timbul sandbar which can be exposed during low tide.

Star Lagoon

kabui bay – alternative to wayag and piaynemo

Maridal viewpoint , Kabui Bay (photo provided by Husna)

If the sea is rough, the Tourist Information Center can arrange a full day excursion to Kabui Bay.  Kabui Bay is much closer to Wasai than Piaynemo.  Attractions in Kabui Bay include the Maridal viewpoint, Pencil Rock, a burial cave, rock paintings and island hopping.  Maridal viewpoint takes about 20 to 25 minutes to hike up a series of steps.

Pencil Rock, Kabui Bay (photo provided by Husna)

Just like Wayag and Paynemo, the size of the boat and cost depends on the number of people.  The smallest boat accommodates six people.

Rock paintings, Kabui Bay (photo provided by Husna)

snorkeling and diving

The Wasai Tourist Information office can arrange snorkeling and diving excursions too.  The closest diving and snorkeling sites are about 20 minutes by boat while the furthest is around 40 minutes.  Snorkeling and diving excursion duration can vary from half day to full day and anything in between.  

Wasai has a dive center.  People who wish to dive need to show that they are certified.  The diver center performs a competency test before you are allowed to dive. Each dive is accompanied by a dive master.

blue river

Blue River (photo provided by Husna)

The Blue River is about a one and a half hour (one way) ride from Wasai via motorbike.  The cheapest way to get to Blue River is to rent a motorbike or scooter and ride northeast to Warsambin Village.  There are signs at the village directing the would-be explorer to the jetty.

Each visitor needs to pay a 150K IDR admission fee to visit the Blue River.  Board the longboat at the jetty. The longboat with return trip included, is 500K IDR and accommodates five passengers.  It will take the longboat 15 to 20 minutes to the drop off point.  Then its another 15 minute walk to the river.  Swimming is allowed in the crystal clear blue water.  There is no time limit to visit the Blue River.  But just to be certain, check with the longboat driver so you are not left behind. 

The Wasai Tourist Information office can arrange transportation for those that prefer to be driven to the Warsambin Village jetty.  The transportation can accommodate a group of up to six people.  Transportation cost is fixed whether you are a solo traveler or a group of six.

birds of paradise watching

Wilson Bird of Paradise (photo provided by Husna)

There are two species of birds of paradise common in Wasai.  These are the red and Wilson birds of paradise.  Red birds of paradise prefer being up in the trees while Wilson birds of paradise stay closer to the ground. There are separate tours of each species because of the different habitats.  If you can, bring a telephoto camera as your cell phone will not produce a good image of these colorful birds from being taken from a distance.

Both tours can be combined in one trip, but you will still be charged as if you made two separate trips (no savings).  We opted to see the Wilson bird of paradise as we could not do both.  Our guide showed up with his motorbike at our accommodation at 4 AM.  We followed him for close to an hour until we reached the park entrance.  From there we were on foot up the mountain in the dark for about an hour.  We had two guides and they donned headlamps to guide the way.

The distance to the Wilson birds of paradise viewing blind was about 1.3 kilometers.  The first half of the trek was a constant climb up the mountain.  At the halfway point, we reached the junction of the red and Wilson birds of paradise trails.  The red bird of paradise continues to climb up the mountain for another 15 or so minutes, according to our guide.  The Wilson bird of paradise trail continues on more level terrain.

Our guides have several sites in the area and he took us to the one that they recently set up.   We reached the viewing blind around 6AM as it was getting daylight.  We immediately saw a male Wilson bird of paradise that was occupying the area.  We stayed for about an hour and saw another male come by and six females that came and went during that time.

The cost of either tour is 300K IDR per person plus a 150K IDR group entrance fee.  For the Wilson bird of paradise, there is only enough room behind the blind for four people.  Larger group is possible for the red bird of paradise as there is no need to hide behind a blind.

Beside the birds of paradise, trekkers may encounter other animals that live in the rainforest such as other birds, snakes and insects.  This experience is one of a kind and can only be done in the Papua archipelago.

saporkran village

Looking at Saporkran Village’s main street

Saporkran Village is about a 13 kilometer ride from Wasai followed by a 10 to 15 minute walk.  We parked our motorbike at the end of the road and walked on the elevated boardwalk to reach the village.  The locals collect a parking fee of 15K IDR for motorcycles and 50K IDR for cars.

Saporkren is a quiet village by the sea with homes and homestays lining its one and only street.  There are no motorized vehicles in the village.  This is the place to be If you want to see life in a small village.

maritime festival

Wasai holds a Maritime Festival every October 18 – 21.  This four day event showcases the different culture in Raja Ampat Regency.  The regency is composed of 24 districts.  Each district is invited to participate in the festival.  Representatives of each district perform cultural dances so each performance is unique as well as their costumes.  They decorate their boats for competition.

how to get to wasai

Wasai has an airport but the majority of locals and visitors use the ferry that comes from Sorong.  Sorong is a larger city with a larger airport that admits multiple flights from different cities in Indonesia.  The ferry terminal is less than four kilometers from the airport.

Sorong to Wasai fast ferry VIP cabin

There is a 9AM and 2 PM express (fast) ferry that leaves Sorong for Wasai.  The same is true over at Wasai.  The ferry runs daily.  There are two types of cabins in the ferry, economy and VIP.  The difference between the two is that VIP costs twice as much at 250K IDR, has air conditioning, wider seats and is a little cleaner.  The ferry office does not have a card reader so be prepared to pay in cash.

There is also a slow, bigger but cheaper ferry that runs three times a week that goes between Sorong and Wasai.  This ferry is used mainly by locals.  However the slow ferry schedule changes from time to time.  There is only one boat and it makes only one trip a day.  So when it goes from Sorong to Wasai in one day, it returns to Sorong the following day.  Contact the tourist information office if you want to know the slow boat ferry schedule.

raja ampat entrance permit

Tourists are required to stop by the Tourist Information Center to pay the 300K IDR per person entrance permit.  At least the office has a card reader so we paid by credit card.  Nonetheless, we suggest that you have enough cash in case the card reader is not working that day.

Raja Ampat Tourist Information Center

getting around wasai

Public transportation is non-existent in the town.  It is either Gojek or a pre-arranged transportation with your accommodation as the only means to get around.  Gojek is riding on the back of a motorcycle.  It cost us 25K IDR per person for our Gojek motorcycle to take us to our accommodation about 3 kms away. 

We rented a scooter from our host.  The cost was 150K IDR for the entire day.  Most scooters have automatic transmission so you do not have to worry about any clutch and gear shifting.  Just turn the accelerator and off you go.

On the way to Saporkran Village on a scooter. Don’t forget to ride on the left side.

what is the weather like?

Raja Ampat stays warm and humid year round.  It does not have hot and cold seasons nor dry and wet seasons.  It does have a windy season which normally starts in June and ends in August.  Peak months in terms of visitors in Raja Ampat is from October through April.  September and May are shoulder months.  

We visited Raja Ampat in July and there were days that the wind was hardly blowing making the sea surface look still like glass.  But most of the days were windy, leading to foot high to two feet high waves.  Our long boat (about 35 long narrow boats without outriggers) had no problem riding those foot high waves.  It became bumpy and we got splashed when the waves were two feet or higher.  It seems that the locals view a windy day as an inconvenience rather than a deterrent as there were long boats plying the water all the time whether it is windy or not.

who is husna?

Raja Ampat Tourist Information Officer – Husna

Husna owns Sandy Guesthouse (listed on and also works at the Tourist Information Center.  She cares deeply about Raja Ampat and the community.  She is also a wonderful host and made sure that our needs were taken care of.  She is one of the nicest people we have met on our travels.  Husna speaks good English so communication is not an issue. Husna’s contact information is: +62 852 545 50411 (WhatsApp), email:

other resources

Raja Ampat Tourist Information Office: 

Stay Raja Ampat: 


Wasai surprised us. We did not find much information on the Internet about things to do in Wasai.  Perhaps we did not search hard enough.

There are plenty of things to do in and from Wasai.  The Wasai Tourist Information Office can arrange day trips to Wayag and Paynemo as well as Kabui Bay and to the Blue River.  Island hopping, diving and snorkeling excursions can also be arranged.  Inland activities include birds of paradise watching tours, Sapokren Village exploration, scooter riding and going to the local markets and art shop.  Finally, there is the four day Maritime festival held in October that highlights the different cultures of local people in Raja Ampat.